Making work personal to support change and wellbeing

I’m well thanks I said, when someone asked me how I was the other day. The words came automatically. Hold on I thought, what am I actually saying?

I reckon it’s timely to revisit what being ‘well’ actually means. Last year knocked us for six. On many days, my best was coping ‘well’ and I reckon I had it far easier than some other people I know.

We are human beings not human doings. My friend Sally told me “It feels just the same this year Toni, I mean working from home still feels like I’m living at work”.

Being in survival model takes a lot of resilience.

We’re all dealing with stuff, in and out of work. Whether it’s surviving in our working environment, dealing with self-sabotage, being treated poorly by someone, or something else, we do what it takes to get by and hold it together. We learn to normalise stress and pressure. We have an amazing capacity to survive and show a positive front to the world….and say, ‘I’m well thanks’.

Integrating our lives between work and home life isn’t easy when you want everything compartmentalised nicely.

Work and life is becoming increasingly more blended.

Being well is more than just doing well enough. It’s more than the transactional feeling of getting your ‘to do’ list ticked off, getting to Friday wine o’clock and feeling like you’ve survived the work week.

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Being well allows you to live well. Living well means you can bring your whole self to work, be the best version of yourself in line with what success is to you. Then, living well means you can lead yourself – and others – well.

You know when you’re being and bringing your best. When people bring and be their best selves at work, they perceive they can succeed and know they are succeeding. They:

  • Bring a growth mindset and choose to take responsibility
  • Have a functional relationship with uncertainty and fear and change
  • Have thinking agility to choose helpful perspectives versus perspectives that are judgemental / ego fuelled
  • Manage and regulate their emotional state
  • Set healthy boundaries for themselves
  • Have rituals and routines in place for self-care
  • Support and champion colleagues around them in building an adaptive and resilient culture.

Organisations need to reshape ‘employee experience’ to ‘life / wellbeing experience’.

According to Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, employers who support employees with their life experience see a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health.

What does this focus mean for leaders?

Work is getting more personal

Basically, we need to recraft the ‘what’s in it for me?’ conversation at work. Leaders need to create a narrative centred in what people care about according to their measures of success in life and connect that to team / organisational goals. In doing so, they need to help their reports build self-knowledge and self-awareness through their contribution pathways that deepens engagement and shows how the organisation has their best interests and wellbeing at heart.

Organisations that want people to show up as their whole and best selves need to play a role in helping people define what that looks like, what skills and capabilities are required, and how that aligns to organisational values and goals.

Moving from surviving to thriving

Here are some things you can do to help people step into the best versions of themselves:

  1. Start 1-1’s with ‘whole of person’ conversions before you get into tasks and issues. Find out what is ‘on top’ for people.
  2. Understand what people value and want to experience at work
  3. Explore what motivates people
  4. Create space to explore what people are really thinking and feeling about things.  Just because they may not be expressing feedback, doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it. What conversations are not being had? What elephants in the room can you call out?
  5. Communicate change in a way that addresses how people can continue to grow and develop with what they want to achieve.

In short, change success needs to expand beyond the organisation and customer to include the team member. We need to frame change on a personal level in order to have people want to engage in change.

We can’t talk to change and expect people to buy into it. Change happens ‘within’ people. We need to go deeper and address hopes, fears, and what’s possible for people to experience in line with what success looks like to them. That’s when we make change real and meaningful.

How will you frame change over the next month to support your team’s growth and wellbeing. I’d love to know.

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