Are you taking care of the ‘whole man’ as a boss?

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When asked how to improve the output of their employees, most managers will think first about better skill training. Although that is a viable part of the equation, it is just a single component in achieving the desired result.

You must first learn what motivates people before you can raise their level of productivity. The idea here is to go beyond the obvious fallback of just doling out more money. That’s not thinking far enough outside the box. Providing good pay is a bare-bone basic tactic. You have to pay good people well if you want to retain and motivate. After all, it’s something that most of your competitors will be doing to lure the good workers. However, money simply says, “you’re worth X amount,” and nothing more. It’s an impersonal way of scratching towards the goal of getting the most out of someone. Humans are spiritual beings with a soul. Money only satisfies one part of the many faceted and complex nature of who we are.

A good analogy to draw a comparison is how an athlete prepares for competition. Even those with naturally gifted skills have to follow certain steps in order to achieve a high ranking. Their preparation must include physical conditioning, mental exercise and a keen awareness of teamwork — things that will help us better understand how to think in terms of applying the whole-man concept.

Physical conditioning

You might not be responsible for how an employee takes care of their body, but it should be on your radar. Understanding this whole-man abstraction means caring for all aspects of the people that work for you. This would include providing a good healthcare plan, but probably more important is to actually encourage good health. I don’t mean handing out an article on healthy eating habits and how to reduce the risk of heart disease. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the advice is likely to go in one ear and out the other. Plus it does nothing to show you really care about the employee as a person.

Instead, how about doing something like putting up a basketball hoop in the parking lot. And when thinking outside the box like this, don’t just say, “Here you go, have fun.” Get out there yourself and start a pickup game during break. People need a leader who rolls up their sleeves and gets dirty with them. If you take recreation serious, so will they. People need something more than just punching the time clock, doing the mundane work (that you require of them, by the way), and collecting the cash at the end of the day.

I am a firm believer that it is the responsibility of every employer to care for the person, not just the employee. It starts with erasing the notion you are doing them a favor simply by providing employment. Instead, you need to see them as doing you a favor by agreeing to even work for you. Employees usually choose who they work for, not the other way around.

Between the ears

Athletes have to “get their minds right” to be at their best. They must be free of distractions and be goal-oriented, which pretty much describes the ideal employee. To achieve, a manager has to be part leader, father and coach. The idea is to lead with a set of rules, encourage with a father’s support and coach by example.

Team building

This is a catchphrase that gets used quite a bit in the corporate world. It’s a process that teaches employees the importance of bonding together. Its value cannot be understated. Going on retreats teaches each team member how to rely on each other. It’s a great way to increase productivity, motivation and positive vibration in the office. But, let’s face it, unless you have a large company with a comfortable nest egg in the coffers, you might not be able to spring for such a venture.

The good news is that you don’t have to do anything that elaborate to build teamwork with the whole-man concept. Remember, we’re talking about ministering to the entirety of the human-resource population. That means the owner as well the employee. Whole man is designed to reach the spirit, soul and body of each individual and must be all-inclusive.

Ministering to the whole man means becoming less like the impersonal rigid boss and more caring as a fellow human. I’m not advocating becoming everyone’s best friend; but why treat people like cattle? It’s really about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

You’ll never be able to create a positive whole-man approach to management if you’re not practicing it in your own life first. If you take care of yourself and provide everything within your power to succeed, you are ready to implement it with others. 

David Getts is a certified kitchen designer and owner of David Getts Designer Builder Inc. in Seattle.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue.

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