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  • Janet Tierney

A more humane way of working



I’m drawn to the Sooner Safer Happier purpose: “A movement enabling organizations to achieve better outcomes for all and a more humane world of work.”


I’ve found it’s not enough to care about people. It’s critical my colleagues truly believe I care about them and want to see them win. And because it’s so rare in the professional world, I need to both say it and show it constantly.


When people start working with me and every time they are assigned new work, I do four things:


I tell them why I chose them for the work. I note the skills and experience they have, then connect them with opportunities to grow and help others grow.


“This assignment needs your knowledge and critical thinking skills. I’d like you to work with your teammate on this assignment so they become familiar with the latest tools and practices. They’ll help you prepare and practice delivering presentations.”


I ask, “What do you want to gain from this?” and do everything I can to make it happen. I might suggest additional opportunities for them to gain skills and experience, but I consider what they want to be at least as important as what I want for them.


“I understand you want to gain experience and visibility to get promoted. I’d also like you to consider getting certified in your current work. It will help you now and better qualify you for future promotions.”


I ask, “How can I support you?” then negotiate in their best interest. We discuss what they feel they need from me and what I feel they need from me to be successful. I follow the Platinum Rule of treating others as they need to be treated, which may mean I’m more or less involved than they would like.


“I know you would be more comfortable if I contributed to the design, but you haven’t needed my direction in our last two reviews. Rather than reviewing this with me, review it with your teammate so they can learn. You’re ready to lead this.”


I commit to provide the support we discussed. My role is to support their growth as well as their ability to deliver outcomes.


“I’ll send an invitation to meet 30 minutes each week to talk about this assignment. I’ll attend when you present it to the customer and, after every customer presentation, I’ll offer my feedback. If this is showcased in the executive review, you’ll be the presenter. ”


When the assignment is concluded, we talk about it (NO slide decks or other presentation materials!). I ask them to tell me what they gained, then tell them what I think they gained. If we disagree, we talk about it. Once we’re aligned, I ask if they got the support they needed. I use their answer to improve and adjust how I support them during their next assignment.


All of this creates a constant feedback loop that says and shows I care and want to see them win. I’ve seen it create teams that care about each other and want to see each other win. I’ve been fortunate enough to see it become fundamental to the way my teammates lead when they get promoted.


Let’s create a culture where we care about each other and want to see each other win. Please tell me what you think- especially if you think I can improve- and share how you tell and show your team!




by Janet Tierney, 20/10/22

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