Why Humanistic Management is Critical in Times of Disruption

The dominant style of human management is what is termed as the Homo economicus standard. Homo is the Latin term for “modern man”, while economicus refers to the economy. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that we are Homo sapiens. We’re driven by a separate set of innate needs – hence, a grievous mismatch of values.

Under the Homo economicus model, we’ve got corporations and governance focused on two exclusive motivators while discounting other human drives. These two motivators are none other than wealth and power.

Unfortunately, society is capable of sweeping humanistic concerns under the carpet in lieu of material progression. That is until an international crisis presents itself, which challenges the very structural integrity of the status quo. The COVID-19 outbreak has stopped many businesses in their tracks, and have them questioning the feasibility of a strong remote-work infrastructure.


But perhaps more importantly, the outbreak has got leaders re-evaluating what truly matters. When all the wealth and power in the world are unable to cease the daily rise of casualties and infection – the Homo economicus system starts showing its cracks. We are forced to turn to something else that truly matters. We’re refocused on the essence of being Homo sapiens.

And as Homo sapiens, we can benefit from the Humanistic Management approach. .

COVID-19 and the Future of Work

The outbreak has placed a renewed emphasis on remote work. Bloomberg has touted the situation as the World’s Largest Work-From-Home-Experiment. In truth, remote work has already seen a steady climb in recent years, even before the advent of the outbreak. Remote work website, Flexjobs, reported that between 2005 to 2017, there had been a 159% jump in the number of remote positions.


What COVID-19 does, however, is convey a sense of panic and emergency. It forces organizations to react to a situation where remote work is seen as a rule rather than an exception. Even the titans in tech were left with little choice but to join the recent exodus toward the promised land of remote work. And it has been overwhelming for leaders to adapt to a paradigm shift in such short notice.

While it isn’t practical to force the concept of remote work upon all and sundry, it is important to optimize productivity while the crisis warrants remote work. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has already downgraded its 2020 growth projection across all economies. Ironically, the solution to improving the economy might rely upon an ideology that places people above the economy.

Humanistic Management During Crisis

Humanistic management is centered on the belief that we’re all driven to defend, acquire, comprehend, and bond.

Individuals bear witness to the diminution of power and assets while the global economy and markets take a hit. However, dignity and well-being (major characteristics of being human), are not all at once removed. In fact, the work-from-home method might prove to be the ultimate test of organizational loyalty, trust, and motivation.

Humanistic management prioritizes the need for social engagement and its influence on success. However, humanistic practices strongly posit that each individual is also driven by a natural child-like curiosity – to explore and learn on his own. A successful leader should be able to maintain strong communication with staff while encouraging independent diligence.

Meaningful communications through telecommuting are integral. Kanban sites such as Trello can help facilitate workflow structures with ordered checklists and pipelines. Platforms like Skype and WhatsApp are dependable communication tools for conference calls and quick meetings. The crux however, lies not in the level of technology but the approach.

Humanistic Management at Work

Humanistic management prioritizes the integrity of the individual. This is even more prominent during a crisis. Under the economic, mechanistic, or traditional management models, employees may be treated merely as resources for the growth and development of the organization. As such, managers might deny paid-time offs without much consideration, so the organization remains highly productive during the crisis period.

Alternatively, the humanistic management approach values the integrity and innate drives of employees. Under this approach, managers are more likely to be empathetic and less resistant about employees requesting time-offs. Managers may also offer the flexibility of unpaid leaves during the crisis so employees can bond with and defend their families. More importantly, humanistic managers are more likely to initiate remote work in early stages so as to keep employees safe, despite understanding the complications of remote work that may reduce organizational productivity.

The dire hour of remote work provides leaders and managers with the golden opportunity to understand and engage their staff. The lack of physical boundaries means that intimidation, slave-driving, and teamwork simply will not work. If the temporary disruption is an indication of the future landscape of work, humanistic management might very well be a priority.

The International Humanistic Management Association aims to redefine management practices by protecting human dignity and promoting well-being. We’ll help harmonize organizational values with humanistic goals for optimal performance and worker satisfaction.

About the Author

I have been a copywriter and online content developer for over 2 years, working with a bunch of advertising agencies and media companies in delivering powerful branding campaigns. My past clients and I believe in profitability through the art of effective storytelling. Everybody has an interesting story to share, which can be monetized with the right strategy – we show them how.

Laurenzo O is a freelance writer who writes about business.

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