The “Soft Side” of Business

August 28th, 2015, by Francia Guzman, Managing Director, FBG Consulting

 

I not only lived in the corporate world for 36 years, but in my line of work I get to interact with those who still do. The corporate world is synonymous to ROI, volumes, clients, markets, competition, revenues, expenses and products. That’s what we tend to consider the “hard stuff” . We use the term as if it were expressed in an isolated context to mean “free of people”.

 

Even when you translate this into the HR spectrum we tend to call the Total Rewards areas (compensation, benefits), HR Operations the “hard” sub-functions of HR. In an effort to blend in, even we as HR professionals tend to categorize ourselves as “working on the soft side of HR” to address our role as dealing with talent and the emotional side of the relationship with others.

 

When you talk about people, feelings, emotions, aspirations they are looked at – in whatever context (clients or employees) as “touchy, ‘feely’, softy”. They are called the “SOFT SIDE” of anything you do. This is not ever acknowledged in business, to the point that I’ve never heard the phrase “the soft side of business”.

 

This tends to be seen as detrimental, marginalized, weak, unimportant and not what we need to deal with to accomplish the business goals.

 

I dare to differ. Everything we do in life…AND I MEAN EVERYTHING…has to do with people. People have the same basic composition regardless of their roles. They have the common denominator of being human beings dealing with human beings and sharing their emotions, at times not in a good way.

 

CEOS, clients as well as employees have feelings.-although many pretend they don’t. They may even have physical emotions as a result of triggers, events or behaviors. Many times it’s about being responsive and in others it’s about being the trigger of an event. We accomplish things when we are in tune with others (the touchy, feely stuff of others and our own). Here are a couple of examples of where the soft side becomes instrumental for the hard side.

o   When we want to satisfy a client we have to go to what makes sense to them, how they feel about a product or service and expectations they have. That is “soft and it’s what makes the sales volumes and increases our client list

o   When we want to ensure engagement and enabled employees we have to be in tune with their career aspirations, expectations of the employer-manager-employee relationship, how they feel about the work environment and their role in it. That is the “soft” but their satisfaction will ensure good service, marketing our brand and business

 

People are the ones producing the results and they do so in the context of feelings, emotions (touchy, feely stuff). Thus, more focus should be placed on these things when we are considering the execution of business and dealing with our employees.

 

Empathy and social awareness is key to corporate success and to just plain be a good human being. So, next time someone makes a weird facial expression when you or they refer to people and what builds them feel free to say I WORK ON TOUCHY FEELY STUFF OF BUSINESS and I’M PROUD OF IT.