5 Human Principles in Business

July 9, 2019

5 Human Principles in Business

We’re in a perfect storm. Increasing economic, social, and political demands on businesses around the world are intensifying—and must not be ignored.

Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report found that CEO’s number one measure of success today is “impact on society, including income inequality, diversity, and the environment.” Impact on society was rated above customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and retention, and financial performance.

That’s a huge swing from typical measures of success. This new focus is proving to be a huge disruption to the way organizations do business today—and how they’ve done business in the past. Although CEOs recognize the need for change, few have figured out how to quickly shift their organizations to embrace this new focus.

Nor are all members of organizations ready to make changes happen. In a 2019 study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, CEOs reported that “organizational and employee inertia” is the top cultural impediment to needed transformation of their business. In the same study, CHROs reported that only 51 percent of their workforce have a sense of where the organization is headed.

Organizational and employee inertia won’t fix itself. Lack of strategic clarity and understanding of the organization’s mission and purpose won’t fix itself.

We’re at a crossroads. Old ways of leading, communicating, and working together will not solve the problems businesses face today. Leaders must learn to lead, communicate, inspire, and structure work differently—and quickly.

Deloitte believes that the time for reinvention of our organizations is upon us. And, that reinvention must have a human foundation. Their study presents five human principles that Deloitte calls “benchmarks for reinvention.” 

Reinvention requires more than different structures, roles, technology, and systems. It requires a completely different work culture, one founded on trust, respect, nimbleness, change, creativity, and growth (personal and organizational).

Deloitte’s five human principles include:

  • Purpose and Meaning: moving beyond profit to focus on good things for individuals, customers, and society.
  • Ethics and Fairness: using data and systems in an ethical, fair, and trusted way; ensuring systems and decisions are fair.
  • Growth and Passion: designing jobs, work, and organizational missions to nurture passion and inspire creative personal growth.
  • Collaboration and Personal Relationships: creating effective teams built on personal relationships, human connections, and collaboration.
  • Transparency and Openness: sharing information openly, discussing challenges and mistakes, and leading with a growth mindset for the business, teams, and individuals.

These are ideals that have been discussed for decades but now these five human principles are business imperatives. Implemented effectively, they will change how the business operates, in every corner of the organization.

The problem—and the reality—is that senior leaders don’t know how to implement these principles. They’ve never been asked to do that. Senior leaders need help with this huge task. A combination of internal and external resources can help teach, mentor, and support senior leaders in leading these changes and in implementing these changes.

The single most prepared—and passionate—internal resource available to senior leaders in most organizations today is HR. HR understands the need for change and, more critically, has the tools available to propose policies and procedures and provide training, coaching, and more to support the implementation of these human principles.

HR leaders must engage the C-suite proactively and steadily, helping senior leaders to:

  • Create business operations that are nimble and adept in new ways to partner with technology providers, with complementary organizations, with workers who are of different generations and who may live far from their employer, and more.
  • Create a purposeful, positive, and productive work culture, every day—making respect as important as results. That builds trust, respect, and relationships and enables cooperative effort to solve business challenges.
  • Inspire proactive skill building at all levels, from leaders to team members to project specialists and beyond.
  • Experiment with new tools and approaches, shifting reliance from established, linear processes to experimental, innovative processes—with team members gaining new skills in both the new tools and new ways to partner with peers.

The crossroads is before us. Help senior leaders understand that doing nothing is the pathway to disaster. Doing the right things—embedding Deloitte’s five human principles—is the pathway to learning, growing, partnerships, and success.

The Authors: 

S. Chris Edmonds is Founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group.