An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) takes a unique approach to management studies. In addition to traditional and contemporary business subjects, students in this program explore the intersection between human factors in the work environment and managerial effectiveness.
Human factors are complex and less quantifiable than technical business skills and practices, but they can greatly impact employee engagement, creativity, efficiency and productivity. Human factors are central to how managers connect with, motivate and influence employees’ behavior positively, thus supporting short- and long-term business success.
As such, understanding the following six human factors and principles of employee-centric leadership can help professionals be more effective in any management role:
- Situational Awareness
Managing human factors in work environments takes a great deal of empathy-driven emotional intelligence. A fundamental component of this is situational awareness, which is recognizing the human factors at play and how they affect the employee experience, behaviors, drivers, etc.
This could be recognizing how simple environmental factors like ambient noise or lighting impact employee concentration or mood. Or, it could be a deeper level of awareness, detecting emotional turbulence or lack of engagement in employees, and working to identify and address root causes.
Regardless, situational awareness helps managers fully understand the employee experience and take proactive steps to improve it. This drives positive outcomes like intrinsic motivation, productivity and higher employee retention.
- Team-Based Actions
Positive collaboration is chief among the human factors that can drive diversity of creative ideation, innovation, collective motivation and engagement.
Collaboration can be nurtured and encouraged through incorporating various team-based actions, from team-building activities to integrated collaborative processes. Strengthening employee bonds and teamwork in such settings fosters a culture of collaboration and inclusion, a hallmark of thriving businesses today.
Managers make strategic decisions that will invariably impact employees. Employee investment in implementing decisions and change will invariably impact the realization of desired results. Other human factors like biases, heuristics, tunneled thinking and situational context can further affect decision-making.
To address this, managers can actively elicit employee input and consider other human factors and situational context when making decisions. This fosters employee trust and investment in decision-making. Plus, incorporating a diversity of opinions in decision-making helps curb limiting biases and narrow, tunneled thinking.
Clear, concise and authentic communication is critical to effectively manage individual employees and teams. Managers should encourage and model open, dynamic, two-way communication and active listening in the workplace.
This gives employees clarity in expectations and performance feedback. Plus, it fosters an ongoing dialogue, eliciting genuine employee input and constructive self-reflection. As a fundamental human factor, strong communication facilitates employee development and investment as well as a collaborative, supportive culture.
Underscoring every positive human factor in the employee-centric work environment is authentic, committed leadership. Good leaders motivate and inspire their employees by modeling constructive behaviors, providing guidance and support and striving to help employees grow and flourish.
Genuinely valuing employees’ needs and celebrating their contributions and accomplishments drives engagement and the desire to exceed expectations. Putting leadership first as a manager’s primary purpose humanizes managerial efforts, provoking collective empathy and cooperative motivation to achieve shared goals and positive change.
- Work-Life Balance
Management models that encourage traditional work-till-you-drop ethics and quantitative rewards and punishments are becoming relics of the past. Today’s top talent increasingly prioritizes a positive work-life balance over monetary incentives.
This is not to say that the new generation of workers lacks commitment to work or the drive to excel. They are primarily motivated by challenge, flexibility and opportunities for growth and development. But a healthy work-life balance is essential to sustaining this motivation. Leading companies recognize that employees’ holistic well-being drives the innovation and engagement needed to succeed in modern business environments.
Managers play an integral role in modeling, promoting and incorporating healthy work-life balance practices. This is another component of positive, authentic leadership based on situational awareness of employee needs and drivers.
All the above human factors are interconnected and should be addressed with emotional intelligence and empathy-driven action. In intentional practice, leading with understanding can vastly improve the employee experience and the overall effectiveness of management practices.
Learn more about Southern Illinois Edwardsville’s online MBA program.