I have nerded out big time this month, and its been amazing! My nerd partners have all provided great ideas that have advanced my own thinking - and here is my attempt at integration.
More than ever, teams are coming forward, looking for help: Meetings are not hitting the mark, people are disconnected and are not feeling safe. Work is stagnating. Teams are facing what they feel is an insurmountable challenge to “fix” how they are operating. Leaders are not sure where to start.
Compassion is an asset, conversation is a resource, and self-development is the vehicle, but culture development is a team sport.
With giving grace in all the different analogies I have come to in one short sentence, to me this statement captures some of the guiding principles for teams and organizations to get “unstuck”.
Compassion is an asset
In the financial world, asset management is the practice of increasing wealth through the acquisition, maintenance and trade of investments so that the potential to grow in value is achieved. Your RRSP does not grow because you wish it to – it requires attention.
Compassion is the act of noticing another persons’ suffering or struggles, and the desire and ability to help reduce that struggle. It is reciprocal with positive benefits for the giver and the receiver. But what does it do? In healthcare, compassionate interactions have been found to significantly impact all areas of health care quality – the clinical outcomes, the experience of the patient, the experience of the provider and the cost of care. The impacts are rooted in the neurochemical and hormonal changes we experience as social creatures – so are not limited to healthcare. Building the capacity for compassion in ourselves, others, and the system is an untapped resource, and one that is often intentionally rooted out of systems as it is seen as “feelings” or “fluffy” (hint – it is actually “energy” – see previous blog!).
Conversation is a resource
To cultivate compassion, we need to create safe environments. Safety is not a “thing” – it is energy. It is a feeling that people have that it is safe to take a risk and not be ostracized by the group. It is made visible in the ways that groups listen to, respond to and inquire in ways that convey: I really want to know what everyone thinks! It is supported with skillful “containers” for conversation that allow the group to gather the input in the room and get to what is right, not who is right.
Self-development is the vehicle
How do you show up in groups? How do you pay attention to others, and how do you attune to and regulate yourself? How do you park your opinions to simply understand the perspectives of others in the group? How do you respond to others in ways that convey a sense of safety? How do you inquire in ways that support the thinking of the group? This is not easy work – but necessary human skills if you work with people.
Culture development is a team sport
While the work of self is needed, it is not a solo sport. We are all responsible for ourselves and for how we contribute to the culture – and how we show up. As social creatures we learn best with others. The skills of working with others cannot occur in isolation – it occurs by doing the work with others. Culture is the sum of individual parts and how they work together, so no one is off the hook.
Is any of this easy? Nope. Is any of this simple? Sort of, but not. The beautiful thing is – once you start, the work of teams slowly becomes manageable.