ARTICLE: H’you’man

Originally published on Linkedin:

Managers, you may manage projects and people, but do you manage people as human beings?

Business success Mark Cuban has it right in my opinion, kindness in business is a huge value. Not just with clients or business discussions, but also with staff and mentorship. Kindness builds trust. It builds honesty. It builds a sense of purpose and loyalty that will bring staff to you before the problem to ask for help, argue the point with you instead of just agreeing with you without thought, defend your company or product values and enjoy their work more. It doesn’t mean they will get all they want or that it will all be sunshine and lollipops. But it will be honest and real. The more you enjoy the work and people you do it with, the harder it is to convince yourself the grass is greener somewhere else.

And if the grass does turn out to be greener, how you as a manager or you as an employee give notice says a lot too. I have always had more respect for the bosses I resigned to when they were happy for me regardless of what it may do to the company. That boost of moral and confidence in a moment that is heightened by guilt, self doubt and fear can built a iron bridge between people rather than burn it down. I have also tried for those who have resigned from working with me to wish them luck and truly mean it. I miss those who have left, we worked well together. I miss those I have left. That act of kindness leaves an impact.

Often as you manage more projects and eventually teams and departments, you become a gate keeper to protect your teams values and efforts but also to still look out for the goals and strategies of a company, client or project. It can be so easy to fall out of kindness and forget that people are at the end of ever decision and will be effected in different ways.

A couple of years ago we started to use Predictive Index (PI) at Vicimus. It has helped us understand each other and what we each individually need and as a manager of people more and projects it has helped me understand my team and myself. I have 1-on-1’s monthly with my team that are meant to force a talk. I often refer back to the indexes to remind myself. Doing the PI survey I was labelled me as having a “Scholar” profile:

“Scholars tend to be quiet and solitary, but if you get them talking about their area of expertise they will be authoritative and informative. They are cautious and analytical—both about how they process information and in how they make decisions.” 

I’ve been told by others that it is an odd trait to see in a creative director but here I am. For me it appears to be very accurate. And as a manager it also reminds me of what I need to personally watch out for to ensure I am in the present and not in my own head. Whether that is setting times to go out and talk to my team, regular personal touch points or checklists for gathering as much information as I need to make the right decision. It makes sense why I have always worked in creative fields but have also gravitated to logic, strategy, tech and complex roles and tasks as well as creative thinking. I am just as comfortable thinking about an idea as I am building a requirements document, a complex user flow and a wireframe to prototype, then over thinking it for days and trying to think on every possible angle before anyone else does.

It doesn’t matter if you do self evaluations, team evaluations, reviews or something more complex and established like PI, as much as it matters you evaluate and look at people as people. Our nature as a very destructive, self-important species can cloud that sort of thinking in the work place in favour of a ‘make it or break it’, mentality. We can easily fall into self pity or bitterness that taints our thinking and undoes any good we may have done. Initiating small efforts in your review process with your team to include more than “accomplishments” and “responsibilities” such as behaviour, personality traits and emotional needs of staff has a great impact.

We really should all care more, not less.


About The Author

Todd Lawson has worked as an gallery artist, commercial artist and a creative leader in advertising, design, illustration, CGI, publishing industries and software product design. As well as a leader in the automotive marketing space since 2002, Todd has been fortunate to have done some great work, worked with some great people and been recognized globally for it. He works with companies at all levels of development to lead, mentor, ideate, grow teams, guide projects, face to face interaction with clients, partner with vendors, seek out new technology and trends, plan and execute. See artwork, marketing projects and more articles at