Covid 19 and Thinking Beyond Digital Disruption

Over the last several years I have heard the term “disruption” crescendo like the climax of a great symphony. It seems all organizations are striving to be a disruptor of their respective industry. Ironically, everyone is seeking it in the same place – through technology (only). I am not discounting technology; it has great promise to advance the lives of all humans and “disruption” of our world through technology needs to be pursued.  However, could there be another disruption not intimately connected to technology?

Has anyone else noticed a peculiar, dare I say competitive, relationship between the advancement of technology on one side and healthy human relationships on the other. Competition is like a 2-sided scale (think of the scales of justice) – as one side rises the other falls in equilibrium – this is the essence of competition (outside of game theory). And it is not hard to see how this competitive relationship between technology and human relationships has played out. As advances in technology pick up steam healthy relationships are harder to come by.

Carefully crafted “avatars” have taken over.  Lives are displayed (online) as one exciting experience after another. Disputes play out (often viciously) through social media – not face to face. Young people gather in online game rooms not living rooms…or backyards.

This is noticeable in business as well. As technology has become more relevant to the success of business, employees are seemingly becoming less relevant. The fabric of corporate cultures seems to be unraveling. Employees are too often viewed as a means to an end as they are being squeezed for every last ounce of personal efficiency. At what cost? Business seems to care more about technology disruption than the people that work to support the organization. Sure, there are those that work on the front line of technology disruption and those considered “top talent” that are paid well and maybe even well cared for, but the rest I am not so sure. And yes, some companies are far and away better than others with their employee relationships; but…

This all seems like a great paradox. Technology has the unique ability to connect us in ways never seen before. So what has gone wrong?  How do we course correct the problems that have arisen?

Now here we are, all of humanity, on the precipice of a full-fledged AI (technology) world. What will happen with human relationships I wonder? And suddenly everything has changed. COVID 19 has arrived as the great human disruptor. Is it irony or some benevolent providence? Is this our opportunity to slow down and course correct?

We have been forced to retreat to our families; forced to go deeper into relationships – which allows us to more clearly see what a human fabric should look like. What should a human fabric look like? I think we get a glimpse of it in the wake of this pandemic; the collective human cry has been to “stick together”, to “be united”, to “care for your loved ones and neighbors”, to “sacrifice personal desires for the good of others”, to “overcome this great challenge as one”. If we understand the ramifications of this disruption in the light of human response, we can see what matters most in our world.

Surely technology will elevate our ability to navigate this global crisis but doing it UNITED is what ultimately unleashes the power of humanity. Pursue disruption in technology? Yes! But, disruption on a deeper human level always needs to be at the forefront of how we exist as humans. People are NOT a means to an end! We need to understand and disrupt the “means to an end” surface-level relationships that have become so prevalent. Looking into someone’s eyes matters! AI is correctly named; ARTIFICIAL; it is not human. Find “disruptive” ways to keep your organization connected…ONE.

Relationship disrupting ideas from Fr. Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries and Author of Tattoos on the Heart.  

“We should stand in awe of the weight gang members have had to carry in their lives and not in judgement with how they have carried it.”It is vital to know your employees beyond simply the work they do for you. They may be missing deadlines because they are carrying a great weight in their lives. Can you understand their burden and help carry the baggage to make it only temporary? Would not this mutuality create great loyalty?

“When youth are filled with violence, hatred, anger, resentment; that is all they will have to give. If you desire they give something else, YOU must fill them with what you desire they give; love, compassion, trust, understanding.” At least 90% of your employees are NOT “top talent”. If you minimize their work or show a general disinterest in them, what gets reciprocated is less than full engagement (the stats bear this out). Fill that 90% with what you would like from them so it becomes possible for them to give it. Dedication, compassion, loyalty, effort, trust…there is much to be “poured into” your employees.

“People go to the margins thinking they will rescue the people there, but ironically they always find rescue.” Humans are most self-actualized when they are in service to others. There is a circularity that exists in healthy human relationships – a giving and receiving best defined as “exquisite mutuality” by Fr. Boyle. How can you tap into this truth to elevate human relationships and human outcomes? Are you stuck in the rut of relating primarily to your top employees – the “in” crowd?

“The thing that quenches God’s thirst in the end is our union with each other…that we be ONE.” Does your organization foster an us vs. them culture? Leadership vs. everyone else? Top talent recognized while everyone else’s efforts slip away without recognition. Build a culture of exquisite mutuality; a culture that understands we are all in this together.

After all, this has been the collective cry of the world as it responds to COVID 19.

HansenBack believes in “exquisite mutuality” between an employer and employee. We foster a recruitment process that delivers on this ideal and it has set us apart. 50-60% turnover rate in executive placement is the norm. HansenBack’s rate is less than 3%. Let’s go deeper and be better!

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