Claude M. Steele is the author of the book – Whistling Vivaldi, in it he tells the story about how while working towards his doctorate in Chicago, when he walked home he would make it a point to whistle well known, uplifting tunes that ranged from the Beatles to Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’.
Claude is an American social psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. He is elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Board, the National Academy of Education, and the American Philosophical Society.
Instead of crossing the street as he approached or everting their eyes people smiled at him, as his whistling took the ‘threat out of the air’. In case you are wondering, Claude is a black man, and I purposely didn’t lead with that, I positioned him with his credentials and his professional contributions, because in the world we are in it matters.
His book, Whistling Vivaldi, is about the psychology of stereotypes. Many people in our organisations are wearing themselves out whistling Vivaldis or carrying proverbial flags and placards that say ‘this is who I am, I’m professional, I’m safe, I’m not angry or dangerous etc.” depending on their identity. This is where we still are, but this cannot be our future as people working together.
As organisations continue to become more global, diverse, and digital, the future of people in organisations requires new frameworks, strategies, and capabilities for success. The management of people has long been delegated to a function of the Human Resources Departments, which handle the recruiting, hiring, engagement and development of people in organisations. More and more organisations have embraced the title of Director of People to refer to the Human Resources Director, which is a great move.
However, only seeing responsibility of managing people interactions in organisations as the role of HR greatly diminishes the challenge and opportunities of doing this right. The future of people requires that all of us in organisations think and care deeply about some of the factors that are required for success and to be well versed in them.
What are some of the keys to successfully navigate the future of people in organisations?
- Honest and Courageous Conversations
The story of Professor Claude M. Steele in whistling Vivaldi highlights a phenomenon that is very familiar to some people and completely foreign to those who have never had to think about how they present themselves in different environments. People working together in organisations today continue working in environments filled with blind spots for some and glaring challenges for others. What makes it difficult to address these issues is that nobody wants to be honest about what’s going on and so people continue working in same environments but in different worlds that continue to widen. The first key to success is creating platforms for honest and courageous conversations that will help people fully understand the status quo and then deal with it.
- New Ways of Think About Teams
As the world changes, we also have to change the way we think about teams, their make up and how successful teams work. There are numerous frameworks that are out there that help us understand how different workstyles, personalities and preferences shape the way people work and how these can be better organised for success in teams. The future of people will require us to continue employing and implementing these sense-making frameworks like DISC, Enneagram, and others. But as people increasingly move into global hybrid teams we will also need new ingredients to foster healthy hybrid teams.
- Creating Cultures of Inclusion and Belonging
People will continue to demand more inclusion and belonging in organisations as we move from just ‘diversity’ which is about representation of difference (only because this has become a basic requirement to play). The differences (diversity) that people bring into organisation demands that organisational behaviour, structures and policy be more inclusive. Inclusion is about creating an environment where differences are not only tolerated but expected, celebrated, and leveraged for success, productivity, and innovation. A culture of inclusion is about understanding that having diversity is not enough but leveraging that diversity for success requires ongoing work. Belonging looks at the psychological safety that all people in an organisation have in the environment. Belonging encourages authentic voice, deep engagement and leads commitment.
- Managing Implicit Bias With CQ
With all the above put into consideration the next level of the future of people has to do with equipping people with the capabilities to successfully navigate the changing landscape. People still operate on biases that either explicit (the ones they know and own) or implicit/unconscious (ones they are often unaware of), and these play a big role in people-to-people interactions. People need to continually learn how to manage these biases, so they don’t negatively affect interactions and decision making in organisations. Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a proven developmental framework for people to increase their capability and effectiveness in multicultural interactions. As people navigate Age Diversity, Gender, Ethnic, Race, Ability and Orientation Diversity; CQ can equip them to manage biases and be more inclusive.
- Navigating Intersection of People and Technology
Technology will continue to play an increasing role in people’s lives and within organisations. The intersection of people with technology will take on a more pivotal role and requires us to intentionally think about how this can be managed without undermining the value people bring to organisations. As technology becomes prevalent in augmenting human capacity and productivity more will need to be done to equip people with this intersectionality.
The way we think about people working together in organisations continues to change. We need to apply new ways of thinking about all aspects of people working together: Teamwork, Organisational Culture, Belonging, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. That’s what the future of people is about!
Buhle Dlamini brings his extensive experience in organisational culture, diversity and cultural intelligence to help you navigate the future of people in a changing world. Chat to us about booking Buhle for your upcoming conference or event.