Performance and productivity has long been the goal of businesses everywhere – always aspiring to do more, better, faster, at less cost. But how do we truly achieve this? Especially in a world where the pace of innovation continues to accelerate?
Often, we think about the key to performance as removing friction, but what if there is an important opportunity in friction? At our recent Attune Summit we had the privilege of hearing from the inspiring Dominic Price, of Atlassian.
Dominic delivered an energetic and insightful session about the importance of getting good at change and investing in ‘fireproofing’ your organisation – not only focusing on getting it right now, but also about putting in the groundwork to ensure businesses continue to get it right in the future.
One of the things that Dominic spoke about was the tendency of many leaders to hire people similar to them. People they can easily relate to and with whom they can get stuff done quickly, with the least amount of conflict.
But good things don’t come easy – and the real wins, the ones that make a long-term impact on a business’s success, are borne out of friction. Out of challenging the status quo and questioning ways of working.
I strongly agree with Dominic when it comes to this — the most critical thing in enabling the discussion and debate in a team is high emotional wellbeing, which includes psychological safety. This means that employees feel safe and empowered to share controversial ideas or conflicting viewpoints. This ability to encourage and accept different viewpoints, to engage in respectful conflict, is where new ideas are born.
So how can leaders achieve this level of emotional wellbeing? It can be tricky when most companies have a strongly ingrained culture of focusing on productivity above all else. According to Dominic, the first step, as with many change initiatives, is to take stock of where you currently are. It’s important to assess organisational values and think about which of those provide necessary anchors in a period of change, and which are just weighing you down. In some cases, there may even need to be a period of unlearning unhelpful mindsets and practices.
But it is not just down to the leader to make these assessments. In order to build a truly strong and emotionally well team, everyone needs to be involved in the initial health check process – which means identifying strengths, weaknesses, and how the team can work together to improve. It is important at this stage that all team members feel safe to give honest feedback, which means ensuring a level and diverse playing field.
Of course, at the heart of all of this, from assessing where you currently are to hashing out the ideas of where you want to be and how to get there, is the ability to listen.
This is perhaps the most important element in ensuring that employees feel valued and included. They need to feel that they have a voice. This strikes at the very heart of what we at SocialChorus are all
about and it’s essential that businesses everywhere acknowledge, if they haven’t already, that the days of the hierarchical top-down traditional communication are numbered.
The new generation of employees, who have been raised to be curious and questioning, has more of a ‘network’ mindset. Everything they are involved with outside of work is based on a network, and it stands to reason that they have the same expectation of how they will be engaged within the workplace.
This means that generalised mass communications that are simply cascaded to inform the workforce of business decisions just won’t cut it. Instead, there is an expectation that communications are personalised and meet employees where they are – regardless of role, location, shift pattern, or even access to the network.
The pandemic saw a sudden focus on emotional wellbeing across businesses worldwide. It is now incumbent on leaders to continue with this momentum. Investing in the emotional wellbeing of teams will not only result in engaged employees who will have a more dramatic impact on the bottom line than any productivity targets but will also help to future proof your organisation by making challenging the status quo the norm.