Nurturing a Truly Humanistic Workplace and Team Culture

Book Club Session 2 Recap

During the second session of our virtual book club for Rehumanizing the Workplace, we convened to discuss what it takes to nurture a truly humanistic culture – at work (physically or virtually), on teams, and in our communities. If we want people to be able to show up as their full, authentic selves, we must be deliberate about our actions so that people feel “enough” just as they are while working to become better versions of themselves.

As we continue to adapt and navigate through this pandemic and usher in whatever our next “normal” will be, we can apply key learnings and principles that honor what it means to be human and live and work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.

Here are some considerations from the collective wisdom of the book club community:

  • “Freedom with Parameters” is Relevant Now More Than Ever. Even before COVID-19, effective businesses were moving away from rigid hierarchies. Most of the influence, gifts and talents within an organization do not align with the boxes on traditional organizational charts. With many people working remotely, it becomes even more critical to be more intentional to support our innate need for autonomy and what it takes for us to leverage our gifts to add value.


  • Even in Remote Teams, We Must Create Fearless Environments. The most effective teams are intentional about nurturing psychological safety. This means we are inviting people to show up without armor and share ideas, admit when they’re struggling, and ask for help. Part of this includes focusing on equipping people to enhance their ability to self-lead and self-manage and relearn what it means to be human; we need to support EVERYONE to show up as a leader!


  • Building a Common Language That is Inclusive and Humanistic Matters. Being able to name our experiences and emotions is key to processing through things (which requires a fearless environment). Creating deliberate practices to build and nurture a common language to help unite and align people is important. So many of the words we habitually use can lead to people feeling devalued.


  • Thriving in a VUCA (and VUCA-Extreme) World Demands We Upgrade our Inner Operating System. In order for people to thrive in a world where disruption is the norm, we need to support people in wading in the messy middle to lean into the discomfort inherent with shifting our mindset (and our Inner Operating System that guides our actions). We have to recognize what triggers us to be reactive, armored, and judgmental; practice pausing; and then rewrite our inner narrative that keeps us safe and small so we can maximize our positive impact on others. This includes being able to let go of any “stigma” we have regarding who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.


  • We Need to Recognize the Emotional Impact of Disruption. Trauma has a considerable impact on us; we all experience it and react to it differently. COVID-19 is sparking a variety of trauma responses for people. And, as we’re seeing, there are incredible disparities based on zip code and where people live. Now and in the future, we need to look at how to nurture resiliency in individuals and for organizations.


  • We Must Shift Where We Look for Work Value. For people who are not used to working remotely, it can be challenging to reframe how we know if we’re adding value to our organization. Some people are finding themselves stressed trying to “prove” that they’re productive working at home. “Productivity” has shifted with many people balancing competing life priorities. Instead, we can shift to focusing on being effective and where we can add the greatest value. Even as physical businesses start to reopen, focusing more on effectiveness can help foster a sense of fulfillment and alignment with the organization’s purpose.


For those of you who are not participating in our live book club sessions, 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 have the opportunity to usher in a better, more human, and more sustainable future. When we all choose to show up as leaders and influence positive change, remarkable things can happen! We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights as you’re reading the book and leveraging the principles to navigate during these times and to plan for the future.


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

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