by Bernadette Chua
When was the last time someone at your office said “thank you for…”? Or when did you last express your thanks to a colleague?
In our fast paced of never-ending to-do lists and responsibilities of day to day business dealings, many of us have forgotten the decency and joys of being a human being to our fellow colleagues. Yet the irony is that the workplace is where we spend a large percentage of our time in. Because we often forget the being part, that gives rise to a sense of disengagement or conflicts at work.
In a company we consulted at, one of the issues they had was that of staff retention. The majority of the team was there for less than 2 years. An initial initiative was to engage the employees in “conversational sessions” by departments centred on value branding and bonding, and also to listen to their joys and woes of working in the company. The conversations opened up new spectrums of insights and effect relational changes almost immediately.
Colleagues got to share and listen to each other’s strengths and values. Affirmations create positivity while sharing about values allows for greater understanding of people’s motivation and actions.
A few weeks after one department’s session, the HR manager shared with me the remarkable difference in one of the manager’s demeanour and attitude. This manager had started to smile more and was more patient when dealing with others. And when I invited her to join us for a group coaching session on management skillsets, she was open to learning (a surprise to her colleagues). During the session, the manager shared that she realised that when she was caught up in the busyness of work, she often has a serious look. Which may have made her seem unapproachable. When her colleagues quip that she was smiling more, she replied almost innocently, “I smiled because you were all smiling at me every day. I just had to.” And she gave us a beautiful smile.
This was a manager who was driven by her value to ensure the company was profitable. Because if the company couldn’t survive then her colleagues will not have a job. Prior to the conversational sessions, she never had the opportunity to articulate and share about her values. As such, her colleagues often misunderstand her actions and queries on finance matters. In turn, she heard the sharing from her colleagues on how positivity and smiles are important for them.
That one conversation opened up opportunities for change and growth. It was an opportunity for colleagues to just be.
We were not surprised by the result as we have seen this happening again and again. In numerous journeys, with different clients.
No matter how toxic a business culture may have become, there is possibility for change. When the core returns to a state of positivity, shifts start to happen. And the core is always made up of people. And so we begin with that, to build and affirm. Followed by changes in processes and systems to sustain the change.
The being part of us always give strength to our doing part.