Happiness is our business at 4Seeds, which means that we know the powerful benefits that it can bring to your team morale, motivation levels, productivity, and overall organisational performance.
Sadly though, happiness is still an elusive topic for many managers, which often leads to stress and confusion about how to lead teams towards more joy, satisfaction, and happiness in the workplace. Most organisations have challenges, deadlines and ongoing developments, which means that ignoring employee happiness on your strategic agenda can reduce your team’s resilience and increase their stress which in turn will lead to high absenteeism rates and staff turnover. It is therefore essential for any company’s profitability to increase their employees’ happiness.
At 4Seeds we aim to make team happiness not only possible, but practical and sustainable through our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop. It takes place over four half days (or two full days), and introduces the best practices based on the latest research in the Science of Human Happiness.
There is a plethora of research exploring the benefits of Positive Psychology for the workplace, however, this article will unpack the key approaches included in our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop, and will share some of the latest findings about how these practices can benefit your employees, teams, leaders, and your organisation.
Why Crafting Your Team Happiness is essential to your business
Increased positive emotions at work
We are all aware of the impact that negative emotions have on our motivation, our health and our desire to socialise, and recent science shows that the exact opposite of this is true for positive emotions. Positive emotions such as joy, contentment and gratitude at work can radically reduce our stress levels. This, in turn, results in less sick leave and lower rates of staff turnover; two of the biggest costs of any company.
Positive emotions are also contagious and make us more “likeable”. This likeability translates to increased leadership following and building more positive relationships in the workplace.
In our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop we unpack the true nature of emotions, we do emotional intelligence self-assessments, and learn some of the key practices to increase the number of positive emotions we experience at work.
Capitalised character strengths
Our character strengths are those behaviours, talents and skills that come so naturally to us that they are effortless to express, build our confidence and help us to excel. So why wouldn’t companies want their employees to use their strengths at work?
Unfortunately, humans have a natural tendency to focus on weakness. This means that we take what we are good at for granted, and focus on where we can improve; the impact of which is actually detrimental to employee performance. A large-scale research survey performed by UK’s Corporate Leadership Council found that leaders who focused on an employee’s weaknesses to assist their development actually reduced their performance by 27%. It is apparent that focusing on weaknesses is not the key to employee productivity, so why not try a strengths-based focus?
Employees who use their strengths are 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs. This seems to be reason enough, however, research performed by Gallup (an American analytics and advisory company based in Washington, D.C.) shows that it also increases company profits by between 14% and 29%.
Using strengths in the workplace has profound benefits for the individual employee as well as on team performance. Strengths help us be more confident and focused, and assist us to become more collaborative when we see the benefits that everyone brings to the team’s success.
Our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop uncovers the value of each individual’s character strengths, and helps teams to recognise the unique profile that each person can bring, and how they can capitalise on these to succeed both individually and collectively.
Optimised engagement through flow experiences
Employee engagement has been a hot topic in industrial psychology for the past decade. The concept of Flow psychology has also become a common term. It is described as the sense of competence and control, loss of self-consciousness, and such an intense absorption in the task at hand that you lose track of time (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
These flow experiences result in increased intrinsic motivation, a higher level of work commitment, and of course high levels of concentration, focused attention and long experiences of selective calm which can combat everyday work stress (Goleman, 2013).
Flow experiences can be few and far between in the bullpen environment at work, however with the practical advice we share in our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop, you can not only increase the flow experiences of your employees at work, but in turn boost your overall team engagement, sense of achievement, and life satisfaction. Powerful stuff, right?
Finding and pursuing meaning at work
We have moved away from meaning and purpose being concepts kept to religious institutions or conversations with close friends. Recent research shows that meaning and purpose are key parameters of why people choose to stay in a certain organisation or why they choose to leave, and that meaning actually trumps compensation in terms of the reason someone stays at their job.
Generating a sense of meaning and purpose in your employees can help increase their commitment to company objectives, their level of engagement, and their overall sense of happiness and life satisfaction.
In our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop we uncover the core values of each individual in the team, as well as their individual sense of purpose. We also unpack how these translate into the meaning they experience at work and how this can be increased on a team and organisational level.
Crafting Your Team Happiness – creating conditions for the future
The key principles of Positive Psychology that we introduce in our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop are not only important to develop individual happiness, but do in fact boost your bottom line as well. Companies are no longer just a place to work and receive a salary; they are where we spend most of our day, and the ideal place to introduce the principles of Positive Psychology.
If you are interested in our Crafting Your Team Happiness workshop, or would like more information on how you can start to boost positive emotions at work, harness your team’s character strengths, increase your employee engagement, or bring more meaning and purpose into your organisation, then send an email to email@example.com.
Happiness is core to the future success of any company who wants to stay relevant and thrive. We wish you all the best on your journey.
Kindness and Civility: A Context
Instilling kind, respectful and civil behaviour among co-workers in an organisation is so important to having an engaged, creative and motivated team. However, this is a culture that needs to be implemented and actively driven, or exactly the opposite will occur and we’ll have bullying, mobbing, rudeness, complaining, and gossiping; things that are exceptionally draining and unproductive in the workplace.
It may be standard etiquette to say please and thank you, and to greet people, but when it comes to our working environment, this etiquette often falls away. Common courtesy doesn’t seem to prevail. Often, the language used among co-workers is hard, negative and pessimistic. You can see this in their verbal communication as well as in their written correspondence. Our external environment does shape our minds, which means that we become negative in our thoughts, actions and behaviours. It infiltrates so slowly that we don’t often notice it or know where or when it started. The negativity filters through to our work ethics, productivity, performance, care for each other, and affects our health and mindset. It’s not a healthy environment to be working in, however, it is a reality I see very often in organisations. Organisations expect exceptional performance from their staff, but don’t provide the ideal positive environment for them to flourish.
The executive leaders of an accounting firm called us into their organisation to assess what was happening with their staff. They saw and felt the negativity within the organisation, with people complaining endlessly but not proactively doing anything to solve matters. Endless problems without effective solutions seemed to be the norm. Corridor gossip was around every corner, and regardless of how many corrective reprimanding actions were implemented, people never raised the bar of their performance or productivity. The executives were at their wits end, and admitted that the punishment approach for poor performance was not successful; quite the contrary. They hoped and trusted that we could assist them in changing the negative and toxic environment within the organisation.
Staff were demotivated, uncommitted, disengaged, and made countless errors in their work. The negativity could be felt by everyone, even outsiders interacting with the organisation for the first time, and it filtered through to every business unit.
We were called in to help this organisation to instill a culture of kindness and civility throughout the organisation.
Approach and process
We engaged with the organisation for a year as changing a culture is exactly the same as acquiring a new habit. It takes time to accept that change is needed, and to unlearn and then relearn new behaviours. In addition, the new culture had to filter through from top to bottom as well as sideways in the organisation. Co-workers who were resistant to the change required additional time to air their concerns and opinions. And, to truly complete the cycle, the new culture had to be documented in all procedures, policies and training materials. It is not a quick fix approach, however the six key items we focused on were:
- Kindness board: I’m aware that this sounds rather cheesy, but it works. We mounted a large white board in the organisation’s corridor, where people were able to write thank you messages and stick Post-it notes up for people they wanted to thank for the support they had given them during the week. They had to list the person’s name, what they did, and what impact it had on them. It could vary from a co-worker assisting them with a task, to taking over their shift, handling a difficult customer situation, to bringing them a cup of coffee. On Friday mornings, the team would gather around the board and read the comments, often adding more notes. The board gave them a place to consciously acknowledge and say thank you to each other. It raised people’s positive emotions, and they started to pay kindness forward. That’s the amazing thing with kindness – if you receive it, you want to pass it on to someone else.
- Sharing resources and knowledge was our next approach. Resources are always scarce in an organisation, and we begin to hold onto them. The same applies with knowledge – we are not generous with sharing it! For resources and knowledge to be shared, trust has to be present, which is why we needed to first build it up. Trust can only be built at work through consistently doing what we have committed to. We started with exactly that low base of ensuring that people deliver their work to one another on time, every time. If an unforeseen situation arose that would cause a delay, they had to inform the person waiting for the work, and brainstorm how resources or knowledge sharing could be applied.
- Providing specific feedback and recognition was definitely underutilised. The motto in the organisation was that if nothing was said then it was a job well done, and if not you would know about it. Communication here needed to be a two-way street. People wanted to receive regular feedback on their tasks so that they know what was appreciated, and so that they were clear on how to repeat that specific action / behaviour again. Recognition is saying thank you to a person for work done. It means: “I see you, I validate you, I recognise your work, and I thank you for it.” Everybody had to learn to provide feedback and recognition to one person every day while being specific and detailed in doing so.
- Starting meetings on a positive note was unheard of. Meetings were generally started with what hadn’t worked on a certain project, what complaints were on the table, and any urgent decisions that needed to be made, etc. Meetings were started in a reactive, negative mindset which led to staff going into problem-solving mode and not into opportunity-thinking mode. Things were fixed, but they weren’t solved in a creative manner. We asked that every meeting start off on a positive note, where either they thanked people for excellent work, shared positive news, or expressed gratitude for projects / tasks that had gone well. The result was that they focused on how this positivity could be repeated, and they felt safe which led to everyone being innovative and creative. The tough decisions were still made, but from a different approach.
- Apologising for mistakes appears to be difficult in the workplace. Instead, stories are formed on why something couldn’t be achieved, and looking to pass the blame. This process is an exceptionally negative downward spiral process, and is futile. We spend hours trying to pass the buck, whereas sometimes it’s often about taking ownership of the mistake, as you are likely to be part of it, and finding solutions to fix it. We instilled the concept that they had permission to challenge each other when they went into storytelling and blaming others. They had the code word “stories”, and as everybody knew what that meant, they were not permitted to go on with their story but had to sit down and ask introspective questions that we had taught them.
- Addressing issues of incivility and disrespect meant that people were given a voice to raise, either in writing or verbally, issues that had occurred in the workplace to the Kindness Committee. The committee would look at each matter raised regardless how significant or not it may appear. They discussed what needed to happen, and responded in person to the person who had raised it. In addition, the committee informed the entire organisation at their monthly information meeting of the matter concerned and how they had dealt with it. It was always done in a positive light, upholding integrity and confidentially where needed.
This six-step process over a year transformed the organisation’s toxic negative working environment to a neutral and positive one. As I do with most of my clients, I build long-lasting relationships with them, supporting them in the transformation and holding them accountable.
The journey has not been easy for them and does require constant attention, but that is what culture is – it demands ongoing care and awareness. Their working environment has remained positive, and if they feel they are falling back they have the tools to go back to.
If your team is experiencing similar challenges and you would like our support, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our expert team.
Whether it’s a fun day out, or a more in-depth process, team building is essential to training and maintaining your staff while building relationships in your organisation. However, all too often, these events can become costly and do not reap the rewards they were intended to. In fact, in some cases, team building events can actually cause further damage to the relationships within an organisation. While there are potentially countless reasons why your team building doesn’t work, there are some strategies you can adopt when preparing for your next team building intervention that will ensure that your organisation gets the results it needs.
Because of the complicated nature of team dynamics, the costs involved, and the time lost, there is often a tendency to avoid planning regular events. However, effective team building does not need to become a burden. At 4Seeds, we are experts in organising effective team building interventions with sustainable results. In this article, we will share our four strategies for effective team building which will help you prepare for, and run, your next intervention successfully.
How to Make Team Building Have Sustainable Results
Why are you organising a team building? The reason why many team building interventions fail is because the purpose of the intervention is unclear. If you don’t know why you want to engage in team building, you are unlikely to get results. Gaining an understanding of what the underlying needs are of your team is essential.
By brainstorming, doing a survey, or asking your team directly, you can uncover what is wanted and needed from their work, relationships and team dynamics. From there, you will have the clarity to start researching the best options for your team building intervention that will address your needs more effectively.
Deciding what kind of activity is the most suitable for your team intervention takes some effort. Having a good sense of what your team needs will help to support this process – however, you will still need to answer two key questions: “Should the intervention be short- or long-term?”. For example, if your team needs stress relief then a short-term intervention is sufficient, but if they are struggling with effective problem solving, a long-term intervention will probably be more suitable to increase the collaborative efforts and overall morale in meeting the challenge effectively.
The second question is: “Should the intervention be organisation-wide or team specific?”. Most organisations go for a specific team intervention, however in cases where organisational trust needs to be developed or a team needs to align their values to the organisation’s culture, a whole organisation approach is the only effective way of getting sustainable results.
Whole team participation is essential to effectively building strong relationships at work. Without the whole team being part of the decisions made, you will not get the buy-in needed in order to get long-lasting results.
Once the needs of the team have been identified, and you have researched appropriate options, start to consider what is most suitable for the whole team. Can everyone participate? What is the level of physical fitness needed for the activity, and does your whole team have what is needed to take part? Finding activities that will foster a healthy sense of competition without fear of failure is key to effective team participation, and the best fit for the team is best decided by the team instead of for the team.
Sustainability of team building processes is essential in order to really get results in the long-term, however often team buildings occur in isolation from the working environment. Retreats, days out, or work-away experiences are a fantastic way to restore the morale and energy in a team, and often this is when the most creative ideas are uncovered and the strongest bonds are made.
Unfortunately, in many cases these amazing results quickly dissipate on returning to the workplace. If the ideas which were formed and the relationships that were built are not supported in the working environment, people will become jaded and are likely to engage less and less with each team building event. So, in order to have sustainable improvements after a team building event, it is essential to incorporate changes, introduce structures, and support the individuals after the event. Having regular check ins with the team to build onto the work that has been done and to note any further needs, is a cost effective strategy to get more sustainable team building.
Are you planning on running a team building intervention? Are you looking for an accountable and professional team building partner?
4Seeds is a consulting company which supports the development of happiness in the workplace. We believe that only with satisfied individuals can teams thrive. We have made it our mission to provide short- and long-term team building interventions that support this vision. With our team of playful and professional facilitators, we are the ideal partner to support your teams and organisation to thrive.
Get in touch with us now for a free 30 minute consultation. Email us at email@example.com to get started.
An organisation is an organism – a (hopefully functional) system of individuals working together in teams to achieve the overall objectives of the business. However, each individual is different, and we all have our own beliefs, behaviours, strengths and desires. It is inevitable that the moment we work with others there will be conflict – conflict that we will all understand, perceive and behave differently towards. Here are just a few examples of what makes us different:
- Gender/identity/sexual orientation
- Cultural background
- Belief systems
- Personal values
- Life experiences
- Work ethic
- Personality profile
- Character strengths
In a positive organisation, diversity is considered an asset, as the more differences that exist in a team the more innovative, effective and representative the business becomes. Positive conflict resolution thus plays a vital role in ensuring people see eye to eye and work collaboratively to achieve business outcomes.
Positive Conflict Resolution
So what is positive conflict resolution? It involves the willingness of all parties to forgive each other without punishment, to seek understanding and compromise and find ways to respect and tolerate each other for the greater good of the organisation. While this may sound like an ideal, and difficult to achieve, it all starts with the collective desire to grow ourselves and others, to bring out the best in the people around us and believe that that they are doing the same for us.
Below are 3 fundamental strategies to start making conflict your friend and start bringing positivity into your working environment.
Organisations have a vision and mission, and each individual forms a vital part of achieving these goals. It is this common shared purpose that makes people show up for work, achieve their individual tasks and feel a sense of meaning from their contribution. This is the common ground which supports positive conflict resolution; however, this shared purpose needs to be communicated clearly (both verbally and written).
Another perspective to consider when driving home the idea of unity, and one of the fundamental principles of Buddhism, is the acknowledgement of our common humanity and our shared suffering. This takes empathy and may not be easy for everyone, but a good starting point would be “I recognise your humanity, I acknowledge that we are all trying to do our best, I respect your suffering because I too am suffering in my own way.”
While this may seem a bit fluffy, it is beginning to build a culture where everyone is heard, respected and validated. By having your employees acknowledge their similarities, a sense of unity is built, and people can resolve conflicts easier with the objective of reducing suffering and achieving the shared mission and vision in the organisation.
Trust in an elusive concept and can truly make or break an organisation’s employee job satisfaction and retention. Trust in an organisation involves each individual holding the firm belief in the reliability, integrity and capability of the organisation to meet their needs without doubts and suspicions.
Trust is developed over time from an ongoing sense of psychological safety – with colleagues, leaders and from the overall actions of the company. In order for employees to feel confident to trust, their Triune Brain needs to be satisfied.
The theory of the Triune Brain states that in order to learn, explore and grow, an individual’s reptilian brain – which supports their survival – needs to be satiated. They need to be out of fight or flight mode in order to really thrive. Conflict, while necessary and inevitable, is one area where unnecessary stress can build, and if not managed correctly can affect the individual’s ability to contribute and be productive.
Thus in order for employees to develop trust in the organisation, there needs to be:
- Healthy, honest and transparent communication
- Consistency in the enforcement of company policies across the board
- Timeous reparation of confusions or misunderstandings
- A shared belief in the organisation’s capacity to do good, for the good of their staff
Implementing a positive conflict resolution culture in your organisation requires consistency and a set of standards and expectations for all individuals, with no exclusions or special allowances – the CEO is as liable as the grounds staff to manage conflict in a healthy way. In order to implement an effective conflict resolution policy, it is important to write down your organisational values and how these translate to the treatment of employees. Have these written up, signed by staff, and posted around the office to remind everyone of how to treat each other.
Another strategy is to encourage ongoing conversations where employees can air their concerns or questions. This makes them feel included, important and respected and can set the tone for the way the organisation’s culture grows. When people are heard and respected the differences in their opinions are more manageable as people do not need to fight for power and can build the psychological safety and confidence needed to really bring their best to work.
In Conclusion: Differences into Potential
Conflict is your friend.
It is through conflict that we learn more about each other, gain perspective on ourselves and harness the power of diversity. We are all different and conflict is inevitable; however, with a shared sense of unity, a strong trust in the organisation and a culture of healthy and safe conflict management, your employees will find their voice, express their best ideas and become more productive and collaborative. This culture of positive conflict resolution will enhance the overall effectiveness of the organisation to grow and thrive in expected and unexpected ways.
We’ve noticed that a new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) has popped up in many Leaders’ Performance Assessments, namely the measurement of Return on Relationships. If it is not on yours yet, it will be coming soon!
In the 80s and 90s, we measured Return on Investment (ROI). In the early 2000s the entire IT platform dominated our world, and now the new buzzword is Return on Relationships (ROR).
What do we mean when we talk about Return on Relationships? Is it networking, socialising, or customer liaison? The answer is “all of the above” – but it is also much more, including building, nurturing, trusting and maintaining connections with our teams. A Meaningful Leader will know the value of positive relationships and will spend a fair amount of time nurturing good team relationships.
Connecting with people mainly covers giving people our undivided attention and time; communicating through dialogue and listening deeply to each other’s needs. When we mindfully connect with others, we build rapport, trust and loyalty with each other. By doing these we remove judgement, bias and perceptions about one another, therefore allowing us to work together in an optimal team environment. We would be willing and open to provide feedback to each other, brainstorm new solutions to complex work situations, and challenge each other’s thinking. Connecting with people reduces conflict, misunderstandings and having arbitrary, meaningless conversations.
Humans are social beings, which means that we need social interactions and connections with other people. If someone has been deprived of social connectivity they withdraw and become unmotivated and unengaged with work and life. In an experiment conducted on baby monkeys, the babies were given the choice to either be deprived of motherly affection or food. It came as a surprise that the babies did not choose to fulfil their primary need for food, but rather chose motherly love. This indicates their instinct that connections matter more than actual food.
Improving Organisational Relationships
You might be thinking that this is all well and good, but how can you improve or enhance connectivity with your team? How do you build relationships especially with team members that you don’t know or even particularly like? The answer is – and you might not like it – deep listening. Make a concerted effort to spark up a conversation with them and then listen beyond the noise. Listen with openness and curiosity. Listen to find meaning in what the person has to say. Ask questions to clarify and understand. Discard any perceptions and do your best to put yourself in their shoes. That may be a good starting point to build relationships.
After that, shift the dial on intensity and frequency until connecting with others becomes a way of working. The benefits, in the end, are far greater as people will support you on your own tasks and challenges through their insights and ideas, which will deepen the connection. Nevertheless, in the beginning, you have to invest conscious effort, practice and discipline. If, as a leader, you are sincere about people being the most valuable and valued asset, connecting is a brilliant starting point.
As February is the month of relationships, we encourage you to have belly-to-belly conversations with your teams. Let us know how it goes!
While the ever-present stress of working in today’s world puts strain on individuals and organisational cultures, there are some fundamental environmental and cultural factors which can ease the pressure. Unfortunately, even though we may want to do our best work and have a positive work experience, this is often compromised by factors outside our control, and these unresolved conflicts impact overall organisational culture and business success.
Most organisations don’t plan on being negative environments for their employees’ well-being; however if they don’t pay attention to the unseen culture of the organisation, it can lead to some serious negative side effects, including:
- High absenteeism
- Stress-related health conditions
- Reduced productivity
- Unhealthy and toxic communication habits
- Politics and internal conflicts
- High levels of dissatisfaction
These side effects speak for themselves in terms of the impact they have on organisational culture and employee well-being; however, what often happens is that we leave them untouched hoping they’ll resolve themselves. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and prolonged negative work environments usually lead to:
- High staff turnover
- Reduced work satisfaction which impacts commitment and motivation
- Low staff morale and team unity
- Higher amounts of HR issues relating to employee conflicts
So how can we tell that we’re working in a negative work environment? Well, there are a range of factors, but the truth is – you’ll feel it. Mistrust, closed communication, reduced collective problem solving, increased discomfort and reduced motivation are key indicators that your organisation is on a downwards slope.
But how do you know if you’re working in a positive organisation?
In South Africa there appears to be a lot of focus on logistical elements of organisational management which, while important, can lead to the people focus being less highly regarded. In this article we aim to highlight the key signs of whether you’re working in a positive organisation, and through it we hope to expose you to the often unseen elements which impact your employees and, in the end, directly impact your bottom line success.
Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture
It is all well and good to have a values list stuck up on a wall in the office, however truly positive organisations bring their values to life. It’s simple to say, “we value diversity”, however is your organisation really upholding this value? Does everyone have equal representation? Can everybody share from their personal viewpoint without being shut down or silenced?
Value integrity comes in many forms from the words said, the actions performed, and the morals upheld in the organisation. These will differ depending on the values of your organisation, however one of the key indicators of whether you value integrity in your organisational culture is whether your own personal values are in accordance with those laid out by your organisation. If there is a connection on a personal level, it will filter out into every level of the organisation.
- A Relaxed and Productive Environment Organisational Culture
While it may seem obvious that we need to work in an environment that is conductive to concentration and productivity, this may not always be the reality. Bull pens, casual interruptions, social media access and colleague conversations can all have an impact on our capacity to do the “deep work” that truly improves organisations. Another area to consider when reviewing your working environment is whether you’re relaxed in your work space. Our brains require a baseline level of relaxation before we’re able to fully commit our attention to the task at hand, so notice whether your work space allows you to relax and concentrate fully on your tasks. A positive organisation should be encouraging a conducive environment through physical, sensory and mental conditions, as much as is possible within the given industry.
A positive organisation prioritises quality as much as quantity when it comes to outcomes for its clients. This is a balancing act and requires attention to both features when considering employee performance. While this may seem obvious and most organisations already have quality audits to ensure they’re producing the best products, what can often be forgotten is the people side of what it takes to achieve excellence. A positive organisational culture should be supporting the employees within the organisation to upskill, learn, and progress in their careers, and experience personal development through their roles. When an organisation commits to the individual improvement of its employees, the overall quality of their outcomes grows exponentially. Is your organisation committed to excellence?
- Open and Honest Communication
Corridor talk, internal politics and a lack of transparency are just some of the common problems experienced in many organisations. When open communication is not present, this can often lead to mistrust, a lack of psychological safety and employees wanting to “vent” to their peers which fuels the cycle to continue. Open communication can be either formal or informal, written or verbal. A positive working environment and an organisational culture with open communication will be easy to identify as there will be fewer cliques, less gossip, rumours, politics and uncertainty.
- Collaboration and Support
A healthy and positive team environment is one that supports creativity, problem solving and collaboration. There will also be compassion, respect and understanding underlying interactions. If you’ve ever been in toxic team environment you’ll know the signs – taking credit for someone else’s work, backstabbing, rumour spreading, unequal opportunities for expression, and bullying. A positive team environment is perhaps one of the key elements to creating a positive organisational culture because once teams are working together effectively and supportively, it can quickly spread into the culture of the rest of the organisation. If you want to identify whether you’re in a positive organisation, start to notice whether you have collaboration, peer support, learning through doing (reflection and problem solving), and both formal and informal meeting opportunities.
“A good sense of humour is an escape valve for the pressures of life.”
In South Africa we’re incredibly lucky to have a culture of humour. To laugh at ourselves, at what doesn’t work, at our frustrations and at each other in a kind way is one of our biggest weapons against the potential slip into negativity. A good sense of humour creates a light and playful culture within an organisation and can really be the antidote to daily stress as it releases endorphins and reduces cortisol (our stress hormone) built up throughout the day. Do you laugh enough in your organisation?
Unfortunately, in the traditional working paradigm, the elimination of humanity is standard operating procedure. A progressive, positive organisation considers the individual, and with that comes a flexibility in management of resources, time, expectations, methodology and differences in outcome – of course without compromising the quality of the organisation’s objectives. Flexibility while challenging to manage can be a vital way for employees to experience autonomy and acknowledgement because when we’re seen and heard as ourselves we’re more in control (over time use, task completion and work-life balance) and will experience a rise in intrinsic motivation and commitment to the organisation.
- Emphasis on environment, family and health
In this millennial world, the nature of our organisations has changed. From CSI (Corporate Social Investment) initiatives, family fun days, unconventional team building events and wellness programmes, there’s a revolution happening when it comes to an organisation’s responsibility to support, respect and act towards improving the lives of its employees and the greater community. This is becoming more common in organisations across the board, but provides a good indicator to see whether you’re in fact working in an organisation that has positive intentions.
Take Home Message
There’s a lot of pressure to be a better organisation, a better leader and a better person. This article is not intended to cause guilt, blame or negative sentiments towards your organisation because it doesn’t meet these criteria. Rather, it may help to explain why you’re experiencing conflicts and chaos at work and will hopefully give you a starting point to begin making positive changes in your work place.
If you’re not sure where to start, then don’t worry. 4Seeds is passionate about building skills and resources for happier workplaces in South Africa and we’d love to help you.
We’ll gladly come to your office for a FREE 30-minute Positive Workplace Talk to help start the conversation and to build awareness about how you and your organisation can become healthier, happier and more successful. If you’re interested, or know someone who may need us, then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to get involved.
The times are changing and we’re here to support you on your route to success.
In the workplace there is little room for civility and kindness unless it is ingrained in a company culture. Business tends to lean towards being hard-nosed and competitive with people adopting the “what’s in it for me” attitude. This has resulted in an unspoken culture of incivility in companies, a behaviour that we’ve all probably engaged in from time to time but one which we don’t approve of. Incivility means that we’re disrespectful and undignified towards others, and express this by not listening attentively, by looking at our phone while someone is speaking to us, working on our laptop while talking, taking credit for a job that we didn’t do, blaming others and not taking ownership when we make a mistake, walking away from people while they’re still talking, publicly mocking or belittling people, being dismissive towards others, ignoring or excluding people in conversations, and withholding information. We may not be doing these things with malice but rather from a place of ignorance; however, in a workplace environment incivility in a company culture comes at a high cost. It doesn’t matter if you’re directly involved or if you’re observing incivility towards a colleague, it affects you just as much!
Incivility can be summarised as being blatantly rude towards others and not respecting diversity. Most leaders are actively doing their best to promote and get a healthy balance within their teams and using diversity to appreciate and leverage off each other’s many and varied talents, skills, strengths, ideas and perspectives. Incivility simply pours ice cold water over diversity. Research shows that incivility within a company culture results in decreased work performance, reduced creativity and brainstorming by up to 39%, disengagement in meetings, a lack of attention to instructions, and emotional exhaustion. Incivility comes at a high cost to organisations, but it is seldom ring-fenced as such. We think that people are under pressure to perform and busy with work tasks which makes multi-tasking acceptable, when in actual fact it is not. We’ll start to see little cliques developing within our teams and will notice that some of our colleagues are more isolated from the team than they should be. We all see it, but we don’t always take the time to stop, think about it and reflect over its impact on others, the team and our organisation. We may be directly involved and know how emotionally draining it feels to be sidelined or bullied by others, but we don’t often stand up for ourselves. We see it, we hear it, we feel it, but we don’t do enough about it to stop it, and we allow this uncivil behaviour of others to wash over us. Incivility in the workplace is not ok and it’s not acceptable. The change can come from leadership and be filtered down, but it can also start with you and be filtered down to your co-workers.
To shift the lever from incivility to being civil and respectful can start with being kind and empathetic towards others by using these tools.
- Saying thank you can go a very long way. These are two very simple and easy words that we only use 10% of the time at work. Be civil by thanking the people around you for their contribution, for their ideas and for their commitment. Thank you is also about acknowledging the person and being respectful of their work, time, ideas and resources. It’s about not taking other people for granted. Make a conscious effort to thank people more often.
- Share resources and knowledge: At work we often hold onto our knowledge believing that if we share it with others it may make us perhaps dispensable or vulnerable as others can use our work, ideas and concepts. Quite the contrary is true! When we share our knowledge and resources, we make room for innovation and allow for creativity with new ideas and concepts. Sharing is definitely caring, and often through conversation entirely novel ideas emerge. Not to mention that nowadays most of the knowledge can be googled and doesn’t have the prestige and power it did 20 or 30 years ago. Share your time and knowledge openly, frequently and generously.
- Give feedback generously and express gratitude: Giving someone feedback goes a level deeper than simply saying thank you as you have to be more specific. Articulate clearly what you liked about what they did and want more of, or what you think could be improved on. The art here is not to be general, but to really take the time to be specific about their behaviour, language, skill or process as that depth helps people to make the necessary change, by either repeating a behaviour, tweaking it or mastering it. Also, share what you’re grateful for in the person, and acknowledge them for the strengths and values they bring to your work.
- Attentive listening and attention: How often do you catch yourself listening with one ear, nodding away to the person talking, but already thinking of something else? It’s an unhealthy habit many of us have developed that is completely rude. We know very well what it feels like to be on the receiving end and we don’t like it at all, so be civil and don’t do it to others. Stop what you’re doing and honour what the person has come to share with you. Listen attentively to them about what they want or need from you. Tune into their mind and way of thinking so that you can solve a problem quicker or address their concern without miscommunication. Listening saves time and demonstrates respect towards the other person.
The time has come to reduce incivility in the workplace and to shift into humane engagements that value respect and honour diversity and kindness. Don’t wait for others to kick-start this; be courageous and start with your team and your co-workers.
Take this brief civility assessment to establish what your score is as well as areas that you can improve on: http://www.christineporath.com/take-the-assessment/
Do your bit to change your workplace into a happy environment.
We know that times are changing. From being brazen in our industrial pursuits, there is now a growing awareness for the environment and the impact we have on the earth. We see this shift in our attention within the workplace too; from more dogmatic, hierarchical frameworks, we’re now moving into a more flexible, non-linear organisational structure. And along with these changes, we’re seeing a change in the way we work, interact and innovate.
Without wanting to disregard any other reasons, we believe this shift is primarily because of a movement from a patriarchal system to a more matriarchal approach. We’re speaking from the point of view that we all have both masculine and feminine qualities within us, and that we need to learn to include and embrace our feminine values. We do not need to overpower our masculine values, but rather bring both equally into everyday life so that we experience more balance and harmony inside and outside the office.
The Difference between Feminine and Masculine Values
Without going down the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus path, it’s important to unpack the difference between masculine and feminine values. It’s also important for us to recognise that we (yes all of us) have both masculine and feminine qualities. We’re all able to direct rational action towards a considered goal, as much as we’re capable of caring for an injured friend. We can fight the enemy as much as we can nurture those who follow in our footsteps. We can organise and control as much as we’re able to endure the ever-changing economic climate with grace and hope. The point is that we’re all capable of great power, and in the past, we’ve been more tuned into the masculine side. The shift that’s happening now is a call for us to respect and enable our feminine values to bring ourselves and our companies into balance. Thus, creating a healthy, happy and prosperous future.
A Call for Feminine Values in the Workplace
In the past our companies have been built on power, strength, perseverance and hard work. And while these are essential characteristics in a successful business, we can no longer negate the need for the feminine values of democracy, collectivism, social intelligence and communication. These values have often been, and are still considered, second rate in many workplaces. They are low on the list of priorities when we consider the bottom line, and independence, personal gain and individuality are the behaviours that are rewarded.
With burn-out, stress, chronic fatigue, data overload and as we become an even more detached society, we need, more so than ever, to embrace feminine values in the workplace, and in our daily lives.
8 Feminine Values We Need in the Workplace
The importance of having feminine values in the workplace is essential for the success of companies going forward, and the attitude with which we embrace this new shift will set the innovators apart from the rest. In the list below, we offer you eight fundamental feminine values that you need to consider and embrace to get the most from and for your team. The list includes the work of Anne Litwin and Joyce Fletcher, authors in the field of the feminine at work.
Let’s dive in!
Value 1: Intuition
Did you know that you have as many neurons in your gut as in your spinal column? That’s why you need to “trust your gut”. However, we’re taught from an early age to counter our intuitions with cognitive reasoning, as if these belly intuitions are less valuable than their brainy counterparts.
There are two levels of intuition: the gut response or a “feeling” you get about a situation, and the judgement calls you make. These both need to be brought to your attention before taking action, or the impulsivity and indecision will leave your team feeling frustrated.
The Lesson: Trust your intuition and make careful judgements.
Value 2: Holistic “360-degree” Focus
There is a large body of research that substantiates how women think differently to men. An appropriate analogy is: the male brain is like a filing cabinet (everything in its right place), while a woman’s brain is like a messy spider’s web (everything connected to everything else).
This quality is often thought of as unfocused and less effective, however, this style of thinking allows for a more holistic perspective where everything is considered to ensure the best solution for all. This style of thinking often leads to increased creativity and innovation when problem-solving and can be especially helpful when doing strategy and business development.
The Lesson: Consider your problem from all possible angles, including the web of impact it will have on those within and outside the company.
Value 3: Democratic Collectivism
The saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is exactly what this value is all about. The essence of collectivism is about finding the best situation for everyone involved. Clearly, this value was left by the wayside by almost all pioneering industrialists of the past – which is how we’ve ended up with the social and environmental repercussions we have now.
To consider the collective is to ensure and empower the voice of every individual within your organisation. A democracy may be “ineffective” in a business setting; however, your staff are the first interaction your clients have with the company. If they’re unfulfilled or neglected, do you think they will provide the best service to your customers?
The Lesson: Respect each part of the machine that is your company. A validated collective is better than any single individual.
Value 4: Connection
Relationships are the number one reason why people leave or stay in their job. This means that the connections made at work will directly determine how committed a person is to the company. It’s, therefore, an essential component to any successful business to enable and encourage healthy, professional connections in the workplace. Open, transparent communication which provides clarity, unity and motivation is sure to bring out the best in your team, and in turn, they will trust and support your decisions.
Another valuable point here is that every individual has capabilities which will expand and enhance your company’s mission. When these skills and strengths are known and enabled in each individual, the organisation’s potential increases exponentially.
The Lesson: Make a conscious effort to connect with each individual in your company.
Value 5: Empathy
To understand another’s suffering and provide support and space is a truly feminine quality. And while you may feel that this may “not be appropriate for the workplace”, you’re sadly mistaken. We’re only one person and having a work personality and a home personality is tiring and is, fortunately, becoming outdated.
Having empathy for your employees means you will recognise the difficulties they experience, and this will translate to your clients as well. If you practice empathy, you will become more in touch with your customers wants and needs.
Empathy with your team can practically come down to flexibility – with time, hours and commitments. Flexibility increases engagement and staff morale and reduces absenteeism and staff turnover.
The Lesson: Practice empathy and the rewards will be double what you put in.
Value 6: Mutual Interdependence
This value is perhaps one of the hardest to incorporate into a traditional corporate environment because of the built-in hierarchy and independent culture. However, a high-performing team will always outperform the individuals within the group and knowing the impact that every team member has on each other’s success is a valuable step in creating mutually beneficial and high-quality outcomes.
Another point to consider is that when there is a culture of interconnection, there will be a greater number of perspectives, opinions and ideas which, when harnessed, can create far superior outcomes.
The Lesson: Harness the power of interdependence and move upward faster.
Value 7: Emotional Engagement
For many of us, emotions are things that are left at the door, or in a lot of cases not even expressed behind closed doors. The skill of engaging emotions in the workplace is an artform and will take years to perfect, but we have to start somewhere.
Emotions are part of all of us and getting along is not always easy. It is inevitable that people won’t always get along and this friction can be the source of most dissonance in the workplace. This does not end well and can lead to people leaving the company or disengaging from their workplace, creating an unhealthy culture.
When we can openly own our emotions, they lose their power and we become more honest and authentic. This word authentic is not so simple to achieve, but it is a value which we need to strive for because when we bring our whole self to work we perform, connect, engage and innovate better.
The Lesson: Encourage emotional intelligence through open, constructive communication and non-judgemental listening.
Value 8: Supportive Leadership Style
We’ve all experienced it – the boss that makes our life a living hell. And hopefully, some of you will remember a leader who was a mentor, who saw your unique potential and helped guide you to become a better version of yourself.
These are the kinds of leaders we need in this world – ones who support weaknesses and nurture strengths so that the workplace becomes a place of learning, growth and development.
The Lesson: Be the leader you wish you had.
Embodying feminine values is no longer a “nice-to-have”, but rather they’ve become necessary to remain sustainable, successful and balanced as a society. As a disclaimer before you go out and practice them: for each of the values mentioned above, there is a masculine counterpart that needs to be present for a good balance to occur. Please also remember that these are not female (gender) qualities, but rather the feminine attributes which are within all of us. You have the ability to become a powerful person for your family, community and company, but this requires the awareness, intent and knowledge of both sides of the coin.
This article is written for anybody who wishes to embrace the shift and create a healthy balance in their personal and professional life.
We wish you luck. We’re here to support you on your leadership journey.
It’s the end of the year, and we are pushing to close off our tasks while feeling exhausted and ready for the summer break. It is at this time that the mundane roles of everyday life become challenging, stressful and even overwhelming. And while the phenomenon of “I need a holiday” is inevitable across individuals, teams and organisations there is still a way to end off the year on positive note.
The concept of gratitude is everywhere, from social media to books and T-shirts, we are in flux of gratitude quotes, paraphernalia and requests. And while we are seeing it everywhere, how much are we really experiencing it in our work and personal lives? Gratitude, when felt as a physical sensation, can produce feelings of well-being, social connectedness and thankfulness.
Now you may be thinking that this is just not possible at this point in the year and just the idea of adding more onto your and your employee’s metaphorical plates is just not feasible. However, the end of a busy year is the perfect time to celebrate, show gratitude for the actions of each individual in meeting this year’s goals and creating a culture of recognition and appreciation.
There are many benefits of expressing gratitude at work. Gratitude is “the perception of a positive personal outcome that is due to the actions of another person” (Emmons & Shelton, 2002). With this definition in mind it doesn’t take much to see the positive by products of expressing gratitude in the workplace. Firstly, due to the interpersonal nature of gratitude it will help build team communication and morale. Secondly, gratitude elicits a sense of commitment to “repay” the kindness offered, which translates into increased organisational trust and commitment.
Gratitude is simple, and at the end of the year when the mundane comes a mountain is the perfect time is begin expressing gratitude in your team. Here are 3 proven methods to begin cultivating gratitude at work, encouraging team building and job satisfaction:
During your year end function or at your final meeting, have everyone write down, three good things that happened at work in 2017. Ask people to share their list with the group. The process of reflecting positively, writing and sharing can be very powerful in shifting peoples perspectives away from the negatives of the year, and current moment, to an appreciative and optimistic attitude. You can also choose to display these notes somewhere in the office, reminding people of what they have to be grateful for.
There are two ways of doing this activity. First, you can ask each person to write a letter to someone in the company for whom they are grateful. Ask them to take the time to unpack why they are grateful to that person for their actions. The second way is a more superficial, team building exercise. Give each person a piece of paper, and ask them to each write something they are grateful for for each individual in the room, they must go to each person and write on their paper. They can fold the paper to keep it confidential and it can also be anonymous. Every person should receive and write a message of gratitude for each other individual in the room. This is great activity to elicit feelings of gratitude in a group, and can help to counter the individual conflicts which may have transpired over the year.
This may be in the form of secret Santa or adhoc. Allocate each individual in the team a person for whom they must do random acts of kindness. No one must know who their “angel” is and this “angel” can be creative in finding ways to anonymously support, gift and show kindness to their person. This is an effective method to encourage team participation, building a culture of consideration, sharing and support.
All three of the activities mentioned above have had proven benefits on team building and organisational commitment whilst boosting individual well-being. They are simple to execute, cost nothing at all and are sure to create a culture of celebration and appreciation especially when December is in the air. Have fun with it, and thank you for reading😊.
Written by Stephanie Diepering.
Corporate transformation often happens under pressure when a company is forced to make changes to survive economically. It seldom happens because it is strategically planned which means that often transformation is regarded as a defensive and negative process. In the 80s companies would realign and redesign themselves every five to seven years; since then the business world has evolved, which forces companies to transform every three years. Three years is a relatively short time span, especially if you take into consideration that a successful transformation process can take three to five years to roll out effectively. In that sense, organisations are in a continuous transformation and change cycle.
Organisations struggle to transform because they don’t invest in proper workplace intervention strategies (H2)
Statistics show that organisational transformation has a very low success rate of 40%, which raises the question of whether the hard work is worth the desired outcome. There are key factors that cause the low success rate but if companies apply these “common sense” tactics the success rate shoots up to 80%.
Setting clear and aspiring goals – The underlying reason for the transformation needs to be planned in detail, step by step with clear milestones, goals and deadlines. This will be a huge process that impacts on people, systems, processes, values, and clients and we are well aware that change comes with resistance, unless it has a well-developed and thought out plan.
Exercising strong, authentic leadership – Leaders need to get together and collectively agree on the transformation process. They should keep in mind the motto of “One for All” during this initial process. After this has been decided, leaders must play a critical role in openly communicating the transformation steps to their teams, not once but often. In order to get their teams to accept and see the benefits of the change, leaders need to inspire and provide support. There is no space for secrecy or withholding information. The role leaders play during the transformation process cannot be highlighted enough.
Creating a clearly articulated structure and framework – The changes need to flow and happen in logical sequence. Each stage can vary in its roll-out phase and some can take several months to re-align; when people and systems are involved the focus is on gradual but continuous change.
Maintaining high energy and proactive employee involvement – This is a common area that is overlooked and a core reason why organisational transformation fails. Change might lead to redesigning the culture, values and norms and people need to be supported to change their behaviour and attitudes. Leaders should inspire people to see the growth potential and the opportunities in an improved working environment.
Change is not linear – The transformation process is not a one-directional, but rather a circular parallel process. Everything should happen simultaneously which is the reason for the energy and zest needed.
Some people will find the process confusing, chaotic and unclear. This is normal and healthy if it’s in accordance with the detailed framework. There might be gaps between perception and experience, and leaders must effectively attend to these and re-align people.
Success comes from positive transformation and change. Changing under pressure is associated with crisis management and seldom leads to well thought through processes. Support your teams to see that the transformation will make good results great, and be sure to take your entire workforce along on the transformation journey.
Contact us for more information about organisational transformation and workplace intervention.