One rude encounter can ruin your day. You expect people to behave professionally at work and to a very large extent, they do. People share information or give direction without being pushy. Importantly, their words, gestures, facial expressions convey respect. People accept you as part of a community with a shared mission that may be creating a project, interacting with clients, treating patients, or developing new knowledge. They act as if you are all working together on this mission and everyone has something to contribute.
But not always. Some encounters are really unpleasant and those events have a huge personal impact. Even when they occur rarely, they have the power to shape a workgroup’s enduring culture.
Leaders cannot rely on these situations fixing themselves. Recovering from a culture of disrespect requires ongoing and deliberate action.
The workgroup process, Strengthening a Culture Of Respect and Engagement (SCORE) was developed to help workgroups overcome forces that weaken their culture of civility and respect. SCORE targets the workgroup culture by helping workgroups to build on positive interactions and improve how they work together.
Western Health runs three major public hospitals in Melbourne’s fast-growing and culturally diverse western suburbs. After a scathing 2015 Victorian auditor-general’s report on the health sector’s poor management of bullying and harassment, Western Health launched a positive workplace strategy, called ‘Don’t Walk Past’. This strategy combined with a range of educational initiatives on each person’s responsibility to manage themselves and speak out against inappropriate workplace behaviour, and annual surveys of Western Health’s 6500 staff, had generated improvements but hadn’t effectively tackled the whole team approach.
“It was a wake-up call for all of us,” says Suellen Bruce, director of people, culture and communication at Western Health. “To not just deal with issues on a case by case basis but to look at root causes. We all needed to lift our game because there were significant OH&S issues for staff and major concerns about the effect on patient outcomes.”
This is when Steople introduced Western Health to Michael Leiter’s SCORE program. Michael Leiter is a global expert on workplace civility and job burnout, designing a world-first “civility intervention”. So far, the results are extremely promising.
The first participating units of the SCORE program points to signs of success. Suellen Bruce, the Director of People, Culture and Communication at Western Health sent out a baseline survey to the five groups that agreed to be in the trial. The two groups with the highest response rate and lower levels of civility were selected in the first wave of the SCORE program.
Preliminary results show that the two groups have improved significantly more than teams who were not participating in the program. This includes significant improvement in supervisor trust, coworker trust, and management trust. Attendance of the first three non-compulsory sessions also exceeded 90%. While the final data is yet to be formally announced, Suellen confirms that the signs are very promising.
In the end, it all comes down to respect. As the Australian workforce becomes more diverse in culture and age, it is important that we understand what respect looks like for each individual. It is not enough to just stamp out bad behaviour within the workforce through redundancies and restructures. Organisations need to actively encourage positive interactions between employees to make sure their staff are fully engaged. This will enable employees to achieve maximum levels of productivity and performance.
How would you rate the wellbeing of your team members? Are you doing everything possible to care for their wellbeing as well as your own?
Psychological wellbeing is a key ingredient in any workplace. Research has consistently shown that when organisations invest in their employees’ wellbeing, they are more productive and innovative.
Increased creativity levels have also been shown to increase general wellbeing. In a study conducted at Otago University in New Zealand, 650 people said they felt a substantial increase in their wellbeing after taking part in a creative activity and they viewed their relationships with other people more positively. The research also indicated that creative outlets have lasting effects on wellbeing.
Wellbeing and creativity have a symbiotic relationship with each other, and both will increase simultaneously. So how do you encourage a culture of wellbeing and innovation within your workplace?
There are several steps you can take to immediately increase innovation and wellbeing. Among these are:
Creating trust and fostering psychological safety are especially significant. Psychological safety is when employees feel safe expressing themselves without fear of embarrassment, rejection, or punishment. In 2016, Google analysed teams as part of their Aristotle Project to find the most optimal team composition. They analysed their own company using 50 years of team research for two years, and the top predictor of team performance (based on revenue) was psychological safety. Cultivating this is important to encourage the introduction of new ideas within your company and create high-performing teams who are not afraid to push the boundaries and elevate themselves to new heights.
There is a greater emphasis on personal mental health currently highlighted in the media, causing public awareness of this issue to be at an all-time high. Workplace health and safety is becoming increasingly legislated to protect employees. Competition in the employment market is making it harder than ever to keep the best team members. It is important to ensure that your workplace makes the necessary improvements to boost employee satisfaction. The best part is that none of these steps are too costly or too lengthy. In this case, less is more. By acting to address areas of improvement, your workforce will be more creative and more productive. To make your organisation the best that it can be, contact a PeopleScape wellbeing specialist today to teach both leaders and team members the key elements of wellbeing amid the intense demands of the workplace.
“Is wellbeing a fad?”
We were asked this question recently and our instinctive response was “We hope not!”. Not given how much positive change we have seen come about through the recent focus on wellbeing. But, thinking more about it, it’s a fair question. Wellbeing/wellness programs and initiatives have popped up like mushrooms all over workplaces – and in some quarters, this could feel a little like ‘jumping on the bandwagon’. But our true response is a firm no – that like many other ‘themes’ of recent times (diversity, psychological safety, even engagement), wellbeing is an essential ingredient in creating a workplace culture where people do their best work, are creative and innovative, collaborate effectively and perform sustainably at a high level to meet organisational objectives.
There probably are people within organisations addressing wellbeing as a fad, perhaps implementing a few ‘lunch ‘n’ learns’, supporting a ‘get fit’ campaign and encouraging healthy eating at work. Nothing wrong with any of that, but they are unlikely to achieve lasting change in behaviour. Or, for that matter, any of the desirable outcomes from seeing a real uplift in wellbeing – such as reduced absenteeism, increased engagement, innovation and retention, and sustainable high productivity and performance. (If you are yet to be convinced that these are the outcomes that investment in wellbeing can bring, then please ask and we can guide you to the evidence). That’s because these programs, by and large, are not very ‘sticky’ – and, without fundamental shifts in how the leadership of the organisation engages with wellbeing, are doomed to under-achieve, if not fail.
For wellbeing to stick, and for organisations to see the benefits, it needs to be embedded in the expectations and behaviour of all leaders.
We all know that initiatives in organisations have to be supported from the top to stand a chance of getting off the ground, surviving and achieving their objectives. With wellbeing, we would like to see this go one stage further – indeed, we believe this is fundamental to realising the cultural shifts required to truly embed wellbeing.
It’s time to view wellbeing as an essential leadership capability.
Organisations expect leaders to have well-developed skills in people leadership, emotional intelligence, stakeholder relationships, strategic thinking, problem-solving and so on. In this day and age, shouldn’t we also expect leaders to be capable of developing wellbeing?
And by developing wellbeing, we mean:
Here is our attempt at a fuller definition of ‘enabling wellbeing’, and we offer this up as a gift to stimulate your minds on what might work in your own organisation: “Making purposeful and well-informed choices to optimise wellbeing for self and others, role-modelling wellbeing as a priority, embedding reliable disciplines and influencing positive change in the system for others.”
To make wellbeing an essential skill, it needs to be documented within your organisation’s frameworks and integrated into performance reviews.
We propose you:
Leaders who role-model and prioritise the wellbeing skills and behaviours taught to them will become an organisation’s most powerful enablers of improved employee wellbeing and all the possible benefits that come with it. But it’s only strong leadership, behavioural and cultural change driven by wellbeing data that will deliver.
As many of you know, this last year has been quite a roller coaster for my family. My dad’s diagnosis and eventual move into a memory care facility has turned our world upside down. The last six months have consisted of auctioning off the family farm equipment, selling my parent’s home of 45 years, and getting my mom packed up and moved into a newly renovated house. I know my family and I are not the only ones out there dealing with significant life events such as death, loss of a job, divorce, a major illness, bankruptcy, etc. We have all been a part of or known circumstances in which bad things happen to good people.
I recently read a book that was extremely impactful in helping understand and sort through some of the feelings that come with such life-changing events. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, written by Sheryl Sandberg recounts the story after her husband tragically passed away when a friend offered to go to her children’s parent-teacher conference with her. Through her grief, she stated that she did not want her friend to go with her…at that moment she only wanted her husband. Her friend wisely said, “Well, Option A isn’t available, so we are going to kick the sh** out of Option B.”
We all want to live in a world in which we get to live Option A. It’s a magical world where everyone stays married, we are uber successful in a job we love, no one gets sick and no one dies tragically. Option B is more realistic and is comprised of a world in which the worst happens and we have to adapt and lean on our friends and family. None of us escape Option B at one time or another…and so, of course, much of what happens in our personal life then negatively impacts our professional life. That is why we set out to answer two questions in this blog: How can we, in our own life, handle those tough times in a more effective way? What can we do or say when our friends and co-workers are experiencing a significant loss or life-changing event?
Two years ago, Sheryl Sandberg was leading a good life. She was the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the legendary New York Times bestseller Lean In. She was a renowned business leader and a role model for women around the world. She was happily married to Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey, and they had two young children. Then the unthinkable happened. On a family vacation in Mexico, her husband, Dave, died unexpectedly of heart failure while exercising in the gym. He was 48.
Since that tragic event, Sandberg co-authored her new book with Wharton Business School professor, Adam Grant, chronicling her own progress from a state of overwhelming, paralyzing grief to being able to appreciate life in a new way. Grant was already an acquaintance of Sandberg and her family, and attended the shiva, the Jewish period of mourning, at Sandberg’s home. As the guests were leaving, Sandberg asked Grant to stay. “I was thinking, OK, he’s a psychologist…. I looked at him, I’m sure hysterical, I was like, ‘What do I do? How am I going to get my kids through this? Tell me what to do.’”
His response was something that might not have worked for everyone, she said, but for her was “incredibly comforting….He started summarizing research.” (Sandberg is a self-described “geek” who holds a B.A. in economics from Harvard) She said, “When anyone gives you any steps you can take — particularly for me, ones that social scientists had studied that they knew worked — that was a lifeline.”
What Sandberg learned, with the help of Grant, was that there are three myths people cling to that make it harder to spring back from adversity. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, bases the three myths on research. He is widely considered the founding father of the positive psychology movement. Seligman proposed that our ability to deal with setbacks is largely determined by three P’s: Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence.
Keeping these three P’s in mind can have a positive impact when you do have to deal with your own Option B. But not only do we have to know how to survive these times ourselves, there will be people in our life that are dealing with negative events and knowing how to help those we care about can be significant. These are five tips that Sandberg suggests in order to acknowledge those difficult times:
Acknowledging our own and other’s struggles can be powerful. We hope some of these thoughts and ideas help you in some small way.
If you want to create a culture that is thriving and flourishing, you need to work on both Leadership AND Wellbeing together.
Since the Global Financial Crisis, there has been a steady increase in stress, bullying and harassment claims in Australia and New Zealand.
Leaders and Managers have been tasked with driving productivity and performance which is only possible if employees are held accountable. Future leaders need to be highly agile and able to deal with the highly volatile and uncertain world that is rapidly changing. This requires an ability to drive performance and also a thriving culture over the long-term. However, if managers are not properly trained, this process can leave employees feeling increasingly stressed and sometimes bullied or harassed.
Many organisations have responded by establishing Wellbeing programs that include gym memberships, fruit bowls, massages and the more sophisticated programs including psychological resilience and mindfulness training. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t deal with the true cause of the problem.
Leaders and Managers play a crucial role in creating the right environment for their people to flourish. If their approach is too heavy-handed they get compliance rather than commitment; too soft and they find it difficult to drive productivity. Leaders need to learn how to simultaneously drive better business performance through creating a culture of wellbeing.
At PeopleScape we have built a program of activities designed around a 360-degree assessment tool called the PeopleScape Leading for Performance and Wellbeing Survey. This development program is designed to analyse and increase seven key characteristics that have been proven to produce sustainable performance by increasing trust and wellbeing.
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Today’s tip highlights the importance of looking after your personal wellbeing when faced with a career transition.
It is really important to take care of yourself from a mental , personal and psychological wellbeing perspective when going through a career transition. This is typically an unusually stressful period in your life due to the uncertainty of the future and the lack of control you may experience whilst you are searching for the next great role.
There are some key elements to any CT process which might include:
Over and above these standard elements is the need to take care of yourself consciously. Some general tips include:
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