Human First in Collaboration
By: Anna King and Catherine Saar
Organizations don’t accomplish objectives, the people in them do. So, when organizations put humans first, good things can happen. Contrary to what old school, institutional thinking tends to espouse, work is personal. When an organization can acknowledge and nurture the human side of the work equation, they find time and time again, that they achieve far better results.
This notion of humans-first is core to our Peer Learning Group Facilitation practice at Integrated Work. Whenever we bring people together with a shared purpose and engage with them in collaborative, hands-on activities, inclusive dialogue, and encourage them to fully share their experiences, we witness magic happen.
At our recent Face to Face peer learning meeting in Washington DC, we invited participants to introduce themselves to their co-collaborators by sharing their superpower and a specific need by using vision cards (tiny, beautiful photographs) as a prompt. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable. The activity allowed participants to create relationship and connection by acknowledging and naming their best selves in relationship to their work. We find that when folks feel energized, and are allowed to show up fully, their motivation to both level-up their contribution and their commitment to implementation follows.
As facilitators, it is our work to create a safe container for the many voices in the room, allowing collaborators to be fully present in their human experience. This sets the stage for honest and sometimes difficult conversations to occur. By starting where they are, and free to be who they are, collaborators access more creative freedom. This creativity and relaxation open the door to more effective articulation of issues and increases their capacity to more skillfully address the challenges they face. In so doing, the once seemingly insurmountable obstacles that stalled forward movement get cleared away. The energy, the connection, and the results that ensue from this humans-first approach are truly magical – and a privilege to behold.