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How to Intentionally Foster Resilient Individuals and Workplaces as We Settle into Our “Next Normal”: Book Club Session 4

During our final virtual book club for Rehumanizing the Workplace, we convened to discuss lessons learned from the book and how we can apply what we’ve learned. We spent a great deal of time exploring what it takes to be intentional to create a culture and environment where everyone can show up fully human and thrive.

Here is a summary of some of the collective wisdom that emerged from the book club community:

Thriving Organizations Don’t Happen By Accident. The businesses that are effectively navigating these VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) waters are anchoring on their purpose (part of the Build a Lighthouse principle we discuss in our book) and using that to help provide clarity, calm and a renewed sense of energy in the midst of the storm. They create deliberate practices to keep their core values at the forefront and act as guiding principles for everyone to show up as leaders. They don’t jump to quick fixes or Band-Aid approaches. Instead, these businesses are leaning into the discomfort, having the difficult conversations they need to have, and using their purpose and values to pivot and chart a new course. As one community member put it, we must move away from “random acts of culture”!

Intentional Communication Matters! Yes, it’s imperative to be clear, transparent and deliberate with the information we communicate to people. After all, in the absence of it, our minds fill in the gaps with stories – that are usually full of unnecessary worry, judgment and self-protection. It is critical to LISTEN during these times (and in the months ahead). Before we jump into agendas and opt for efficiency, we must remember we are HUMAN. Riding this rollercoaster of COVID-19 has ups and downs that we must acknowledge. If you haven’t already, start making listening sessions a common practice. We outline how to do this in the book. During these sessions, you ask questions and listen to understand (no solutions, no problem-solving). You will better understand what it’s like for people, what they’re experiencing and what they need to show up as a leader.

We Must Be Thoughtful About Fostering Ongoing Human Connection. The need for physical separation in the midst of the pandemic has illustrated how important honoring our DNA as humans is; we are neurobiologically-hardwired for connection. Many people have created practices to check in with staff regularly and expand meetings, huddles and virtual gatherings to include a broader group of people. 

When employees feel safe, cared for and connected—they are more effective. One simple, yet powerful example is Envision (one of the companies we feature in the book). Their leadership wrote a love letter to all Envisioners expressing their gratitude and appreciation. As businesses slowly adapt to the next normal, we must continue to recognize the value of making time for thoughtful human connection throughout our work week.

The Health of Organizations is Inextricably-Interconnected with the Health of its People. With home and work lives becoming chaotically intertwined, it brings to light how critical it is to recognize and honor the importance of fostering work-life harmony. For people working from home, we must acknowledge that this may cause excess stress and trauma; not everyone has a physically and psychologically safe home environment. We bring our personal experiences into the work environment (and vice-versa). What we each need in order to show up as our best, fully authentic selves varies greatly. So we need to create fearless environments and listen to people to find out what they need and what is meaningful to them.

We Must Pivot How We Support Individual Wellbeing. As human beings, we are hardwired to rebel when told what to do, and our autonomy is compromised. Just look at what’s happening with some of the reaction to COVID restrictions. If we think reactions will be any different when we force people to jump through hoops to support their health and wellbeing,—we’re mistaken. Just as every business has had to pivot in the face of COVID-19, so must employee wellness/wellbeing efforts. This is a perfect opportunity to move away from dehumanized “wellness or else” programs and hit the reset button. 

Unfortunately, some vendors are doubling down on their pre-pandemic strategies with claims that healthier employees have better immune systems—and are at lower risk of being adversely affected by the virus. Let’s hope that common sense, science, and sanity prevail instead!

As we wrap up four weeks of incredible connection, community-building, and thoughtful discussions; we asked everyone to share one thing they plan to apply or do differently, based on the book club discussions. I am incredibly energized, inspired and humbled by this community!

Here are some of the takeaways people shared:

  • I will start thinking of myself as a leader – even though my role with the company doesn’t define it as one in the traditional sense. Who cares! I can be a better leader than some of the designated ones.
  • Self-gratitude journal every night.
  • Work on developing and communicating the key principles for what it takes to have quality leadership.
  • Help create fearless environments by listening and supporting vulnerability.
  • Commit to influencing change and be a Lighthouse for others!
  • Push the boundaries of my comfort level to connect with people who can help me learn and grow.
  • Be brave in sharing.
  • Continue reading, learning, and ensuring this conversation continues within our executive team and board.
  • Be more confident with having a human-focused approach and speaking up about it. It helps so much to know that there are other human-focused HR leaders out there.
  • Take more action and speak up to create social change in the workplace.
  • Keep advocating for the user – the HUMAN voice.
  • Encourage people to show as a leader, regardless of their job title.
  • Apply an Outward vs. an Inward mindset and find connections to people.
  • I’m inspired to be with like-minded people and hope we continue to tie wellbeing to culture and climate.

I hope these recaps are insightful for you. And remember that you can use the discussion guide to foster your own learning or start your own book club and share your insights with others.

We’d love to hear from you!

How are you leveraging (or planning to leverage) the principles in the book to show up as a leader and influence positive change?

Please comment or drop us a note. This is not a solo journey! Be in community. Give yourself and others grace. And be a bright spot in someone’s day as you lead and influence positive change.

Stay HUMAN. Stay connected. Stay safe. Show Up as a Leader.

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