How are you? That question has become nearly a replacement for
hello. We toss it into greetings whether we want to know the answer
or not. If we asked in earnest, and listened in detail for the
answer, we might hear information that could help our team or
organization move toward higher individual and group performance.
But listening takes time, and we dont always have (or make) time.
Instead of avoiding the question completely, however, we can adopt
a shorter but powerful group process that gives us vital, headline
information on one another.
At team meetings in our office and with clients, we start with the
question How are you doing as a human being on earth today? People
respond on a scale of 0 to 10: 0 being not good at all, 10
being very good. As a follow-up, we ask the individuals
who share a low or high number to describe the reasons for their
number (if they feel OK doing so) and explain how what their number
represents might affect the way they interact, perform, contribute,
or work that day.
This simple activity makes an impact far beyond the few minutes
needed to practice it. Sharing feelings or energy level each day
gives people the opportunity to be heard and seen by their
co-workers. This act of inclusion establishes trust and connections
among people. The more people trust one another, the more
efficiently they interact and the faster their knowledge transfer,
contributing to higher individual and team performance.
Just as important, the activity signals how people can best support
and work with one another. If I am at a 3 because of a personal
situationfeeling frustrated, but not with those at workpeople can
adjust their expectations of me and know that the frustration does
not stem from them. Perhaps together we can discuss how they can
best support me today. They also might respond with more
understanding when working with me, or postpone a scheduled
discussion to another day, when we can bring our best selves to
On the other hand, if I rate myself a 3 because work is
overwhelming, people can look for opportunities to step in and
help. When the work flows to where the energy and capacity are, the
team moves forward more effectively.
In contrast, when people do not share information about their
current feelings, concerns, and energy levels, it is difficult for
them to understand one anothers behaviors. An out-of-character
response seems to come from nowhere. This lack of understanding of
the reason behind behavior detracts from the ability to trust. The
less trust we have, the more barriers to collaboration and
knowledge transfer. Performance suffers.
How are you doing as a human being on earth today? also enables
people to look within themselves. By stopping to consider how I am
today, I become more aware of my capabilities and limitations for
that particular day. If I am a 4 and one of my projects must be
completed today, this simple check-in alerts me that I need to
marshal my limited resources around that (or find a partner to
share the load). If I am a 10, that realization might motivate me
to lend support to other team members who need it.
How are you doing as a human being on earth today? should be used
daily, first thing in the morning, so people can adjust their
expectations and interactions from the start. It is not
intended to solve issues of chronic low energy or underperformance.
People who are consistently in the 2-5 range may need a personal or
job adjustment. Rather than addressing these issues, asking How
are you doing as a human being on earth today? simply acknowledges
the natural rhythms that come with being human and adjusts the flow
of work and interactions accordingly.
This has two effects. In the short term, by matching work with
energy, it enables individuals and teams to operate at peak
efficiency. In the long term, people feel more valued and known for
who they are as a whole person, which better enables them to do
their best work. A simple question can have a huge payoff.