The following is an excerpt from Peoplework: How to Run a People-First Business in a Digital-First World by Austin Allison and Chris Smith.
Historically, people have thought about businesses like business, allowing revenue, expenses, and cost sheets to dominate their time. This does not, however, leave much room for people. To be a Peoplework company, you need to see your business through the lens of a human being.
The act of building genuine friendships and building a successful business aren't that different from one another. Stop for a minute and think about the reasons that you enjoy spending time with your family and friends. As you think about them, a smile will probably cross your face. Yet your thoughts about business don't evoke the same thoughts or responses. For some reason, it's not typical to think about businesses as people.
Peoplework businesses understand that they need to be human. Business traits during the people revolution should be human, like honesty, transparency, forgiveness, and encompassing of a genuine personality. If you were moving to a new city, how would you make friends? You would be human and never look at them as a transaction. The goal of friendship is to create a lifetime bond, not make a quick buck.
A Peoplework company thinks about its customers much the same way, as friends and family, because people connect with humanity. So being a human business means that you'll more effectively connect with your customers.
Blood Is Thicker Than Water
When you run a human business, you treat your customers like family. Friends are similar, building on the same foundation that makes familial bonds so strong. A deep level of care, trust, and transparency is required for a strong friendship. And over time, not only does the level of trust grow between friends, but more things surface as well. Close friends begin to develop common passions and interests.
Unlike family, an added benefit to friendship is that you get to choose your friends. Peoplework businesses choose their customers, too. You're probably thinking, "But I do care about my customers." Ask that in the context of how you care about your friends. If a friend called and asked you to pick up her daughter from school, you would not start calculating reimbursement for the miles you had to drive. You would do everything in your power to help because you care. Caring shows you are human and want to be cared for.
Let me be clear, though, not all friends receive the same level of care, nor can all customers. But they all can be treated with genuine respect and selflessness. Whether it's friends, family, or customers, treat them like you care and strong bonds will follow.
The Human Factor
Genuine morals and values, plus knowing exactly whom you want to attract to your business, will go a long way in the people revolution. Being a human company also helps you attract customers because they know you have their back as well.
Academic books have not been written on this concept, but you have to start somewhere. The same rules that apply to connecting with people should apply to business, too.
Traditional education does not tell us how to be a likable person with lots of friends. People learn that on their own, by being human, making mistakes, showing they care, and developing emotional, sometimes physical, connections with those around them.
Most businesses think only about quantity, while most people think about quality. Once you start treating your business and work like your friendships, you'll have crossed the first hurdle. When your business is human, it will create infinite opportunities.
For more information about Peoplework visit pplwork.com.
Adapted with permission of Peoplework LLC from Peoplework: How to run a people-first business in a digital-first world by Austin Allison and Chris Smith. Copyright (c) 2014 by Peoplework LLC. All rights reserved.