Direct Marketing Article
To Drive Performance, Manage the Whole Employee
By Marty Martin Psy.D.
The term "human resources management" is essential in business. But have you
noticed that the majority of the literature about the topic focuses on the
"resources" and the "management" aspects but barely addresses the "human"
element? As a result, most managers see their employees as resources to be
managed, and not as a whole person that can contribute so much more.
Managing the whole person means acknowledging that everyone is
multi-dimensional and has numerous roles to balance in life—all of which
affect job performance. However, this goes much deeper than simply work-life
balance. It's about recognizing all aspects of an employee to ensure a
work-life "fit" that benefits the company and each individual. In fact, when
you focus on the whole person rather than just on an employee's work
performance, you build more meaningful connections with employees, which
results in greater loyalty and productivity. Following are some suggestions
for better managing the whole employee.
See the input, not just the output, of each employee.
When managing the whole person, you need to look beyond the person's job
description. Look beyond the output (the deadlines, the expectations, and
the day-to-day job duties) and start looking at the input factors, as these
determine the quality of the output.
Input factors are the drivers and drainers in the employees' lives that
affect their job performance. Some typical input factors include:
• The employee's best time of day to get work done
• What's going on in the employee's family
• The employee's physical, mental, and emotional health
• Other stressors the employee has, such as being a caregiver to aging
parents, being pregnant, being the only income-earner in the home, etc
• What community or hobby events the employee is committed to
Basically, it's about paying attention to all of the different drivers and
drainers of what motivates employees to either perform at the level of
acceptable performance, to go above and beyond an acceptable level of
performance, or to underperform to expectations. Because all of the various
inputs affect the overall output, being aware of the input makes good
Acknowledge that everyone is multi-dimensional.
Many managers believe that finding out about their employees' lives outside
of the work role is intrusive. They don't want to ask personal questions for
fear of appearing nosey. The good news is that you don't have to ask
questions to find out about people. You simply have to acknowledge the clues
that are all around you.
For example, if you see photos of children in someone's office, you don't
have to ask, "Are those your kids?" You can simply comment, "Those are
beautiful children." With that one acknowledgment, most people will open up,
tell you who the children are, and offer lots more personal information.
Likewise, if you see sports gear stashed away in a corner of someone's
cubicle, you don't have to ask, "Do you play tennis [or whatever sport is
evident]?" Instead, you can comment, "I've always been interested in
tennis." Again, the person will naturally start talking about the sport, the
team or league she's on, her accomplishments, and so much more. While it's
true that most people don't want to sit through a session of 20 questions
with their manager, they do enjoy being acknowledged—not just for their
work, but also for their other interests.
Look at the big picture, not just the day-to-day details.
The average full-time employee works 2,080 hours per year...at the office.
That doesn't include time the employee puts in at night and on the weekends.
With all of today's technological innovations, more and more people are
connected to work 24/7, even while on vacation. As the separation between
work and life becomes narrowed—what many people are referring to as a "blur"
of roles—a person's ability to focus intently on any one role becomes more
difficult, resulting in errors and burnout.
In many organizations the managers set the expectation for this blur because
they're not looking at the big picture of what the organization
accomplishes; rather, they are focusing on the day-to-day stressors, the
errors, the requests for time off, or the employee's lunch hour that was
really an hour and a half. By keeping your eye on the day-to-day details,
you're missing the big picture of what your people really contribute. In
essence, you're adding undue stress on everyone—including yourself. Of
course, details are important, but it's also vital to take a step back and
look at the big picture so you can see your employees as people and not as
parts of a machine to be fixed.
Take Management to a "Whole" New Level
When you put the "human" element back into human resources management,
you're acknowledging the needs of the employees so they can perform better.
When employees feel recognized as more than just a number on a monthly
report, they tend to give you more discretionary effort or what's called
"citizenship behavior," where they're supportive of other employees and of
the organization as a whole. As an added benefit, when employees are more
supportive of their managers, the manager's workload becomes less stressful
too. Ultimately, the sooner you recognize all the drivers and drainers that
impact people and then manage them, the sooner you'll be able to create a
About the Author:
Dr. Marty Martin, known for his state-of-the art content presented in an
engaging, dynamic fashion, has been speaking and training nationally and
internationally for many years. His second book, Taming Disruptive Behavior,
will be published by The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in
2013. He is currently working on his third book, Do You Have Career
Insurance? Dr. Martin is the Director of the Health Sector Management MBA
Concentration and Associate Professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul
University in Chicago, Illinois. For more information to obtain a free
chapter of Do You Have Career Insurance? please visit his website: