Terry Newman wants to help build healthy workplace environments. She is the founder of Newman Management Consulting, and has created a flourishing career around the idea of helping “leaders and teams to achieve higher impact in their roles.” What this means is that she wants to discourage the classical workplace where employees are afraid of their employers, and employers feel a disconnect between themselves and their staff. Instead, Newman believes that teaching “the human side of effectiveness” will foster much more productive, comfortable, and stress-reduced workplace environments for employees and employers both.
Newman’s game plan
Newman advocates for human-effectiveness as opposed to the more traditional “task-oriented” effectiveness. The difference, she explains, is in tone. With task-oriented effectiveness, a tenser tone is in place and is actually encouraged. We are traditionally taught that this tone will keep everybody in their places. Newman argues that it only reduces the potential of employers and employees as well. She recommends, and teaches workplaces to replace this classical “task-oriented effectiveness” with “the human side of effectiveness.”
With the human side of effectiveness, not “authoritativeness” but instead things like empathy, learning, and trust are emphasized and valued. Newman stresses the importance of establishing “psychologically safe” workplaces: one that encourages its employees to admit when they are stuck on, or do not fully understand, a task. A psychologically safe workplace is one where people can admit to having a problem, or to needing some help. Where they can ask uncomfortable questions because their leaders understand that greater communication is not a hindrance to company effectiveness but in fact paves the way for the production of the best ideas.
One of the ways in which Newman helps leaders and teams “achieve higher impact in their roles” is by way of company retreats. During these retreats, Newman helps coworkers get to know each other better, to understand one another more fully, and most importantly, to trust each other. On these retreats, Newman facilitates the telling of personal stories, sometimes childhood stories about difficulties or challenges, and creates an environment that makes it easy for coworkers to connect on a more personal level. Being vulnerable with one another, Newman says, is actually a path to being more productive coworkers. Sometimes she even has them write down on sticky notes what it is that they believe is getting in the way of them trusting one another.
Newman’s thoughts on tech in the workplace
While Newman is not all-out against technology in the workplace (obviously she understands that it is essential at times, and even can be a great asset), she does, however, believe that it is sometimes an excellent idea to step away from it if possible. For instance, little things such as replacing that phone conference with your employees with a video conference can make all the difference in terms of engagement and personal connection. A little bit of the human touch, as Bruce Springsteen would say, can be a great tool for any leader hoping to create a more productive workplace environment.
“But shouldn’t you be authoritative in the workplace?” David Grasso asks Newman. Her answer is a resounding no. Although employers must absolutely understand how to lay down the law when a situation calls for it, Newman throws out a fancy term called “procedural justice.” The concept is pretty rational. Employees are more likely to be productive and obedient, and indeed will want to be productive and obedient, when they feel like they are being heard, valued, cared about, and understood. When asked what would be her three pieces of advice to any emerging entrepreneur when it came to interacting with their employees (or interns), Newman advised: 1) talk less, 2) ask more questions, and 3) find a way to connect outside of the workplace. Plus, she adds an extra one: have more fun with each other!
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