A Guest Post by Vanessa Fudge from Leading Well
How does it feel when your ‘being’ is ‘well’?
For each of us it’s different, but typically we may feel an abundance of energy, centred yet expansive, positive, creative, alive, flourishing and connected – like all the parts of our ‘human system’ are ‘in flow’. And for each of us, we keep refining our understanding of what we need to do, or stop doing, to support our wellbeing.
Now, let’s zoom out and take an organisational view of wellbeing. Every company comprises functions, teams, roles and people filling those roles, working together to create and deliver products or services to meet a societal or market need. And those organisational connections extend beyond the company to a whole range of external parties – suppliers, stakeholders, service providers, markets, competitors, governments and customers!
When all these internal and external elements are ‘in flow’ the organisation can successfully fulfil the purpose it was created for and it can continue to flourish in a positive forward movement towards its future. And, this shows up in metrics – employee engagement, customer satisfaction, share prices and business performance. And of course, the opposite is true too – when the wellbeing of the organisation doesn’t have the care, attention and visibility, blocks in flow may start to appear making it much harder to achieve outcomes and resulting in poor commercial and cultural metrics.
Typically, wellbeing sits with People & Culture, HR or Health and Safety functions or perhaps with a dedicated wellness function where educated staff who are skilled at reading the organisation and its people propose initiatives to raise the overall wellbeing of people in the company and hopefully create a feel-good factor for coming to work.
However, accountability for the overall systemic wellbeing of an organisation sits primarily with leadership and it includes both commercial and cultural elements. It asks of a leadership team to hold the entire wellbeing of their system in their hands and to act from a place that seeks to respond to what the organisational system needs from them in order for all these different elements to be ‘in flow’.
This is a very different leadership perspective and of course, the outcomes are obvious – employees who love working together to achieve great things that your market is seeking. So how do we get ‘organisational wellbeing’ on the leadership team agenda? Here are four pointers to get started:
1. Top Down: While wellbeing initiatives targeting individual leaders such as Executive coaching and Executive wellbeing assessments are useful, only collective leadership initiatives such as team coaching, top team wellbeing assessments or group based leadership development will create accountability for change and peer support to sustain the change
2. Link to Strategy: while wellness is a nice to have it will be out-prioritised by other things and ultimately dwindle during unplanned change. Join the dots between the customer experience and staff wellbeing. Make wellbeing a business KPI and not just a personal KPI. Anything that talks to the top line and not just the bottom line reliably sparks the attention of the CEO!
3. Create Role Models from the Top: Ideally starting with the CEO. This gives permission for everyone to prioritise their wellbeing without being nervous about limiting their career prospects. When an Executive speaks about his or her family and how they are taking steps to put that first, everyone listens!
4. It’s a Learned Skill. Make it a leadership topic not a staff tick-box. Get wellbeing onto the leadership development curriculum – not just personal wellbeing but organisational wellbeing. Educate leaders on how to read the dynamics and wellbeing of the system as an indicator for future performance. Highlight how common leadership mistakes can interfere with human performance drivers such as belonging and fairness. Equip leaders with systemic intelligence to jumpstart their vision and their purpose across silos and understand how to build loyalty to a brighter future.
For leaders reading this article, congratulations on owning your own wellbeing, now it’s time to own it for the whole as only you can do!