Change that sticks. Finally.

What does it mean to re-humanise the workplace?

Posted February 10, 2015

We don’t have to be researchers from business schools to realize that something is not right in the workplace. Our friend “the burnout coach” says: “According to a recent study by the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) 1 in 3 UK employees are threatened by burn out.”

We work with many executives, and more often than not, we talk about how they suffer from “the imposter syndrome” – here they are, well-functioning, successful executives in charge of big business decisions, and they feel like frauds and are afraid of being found out.

In one group of executives, 9 out of 10 admitted that they still were concerned about proving themselves to their father.

Technology is also challenging us. We are online all the time, using emails, text messages, tweets, facebook updates – constantly bombarding our brain with information. Leaving less and less time to actually process the information. To think.

Our work-groups are getting more and more scattered, virtual and in different time-zones and we get more and more tasks to deal with and less and less time to build and sustain the team spirit.

So: we are always on, afraid of being left out or let down, with little time to reflect and working with people we have never met in person. In this situation, we are expected to be more creative, more receptive to change, more effective and have more job satisfaction.

Business cultures need to change. It is possible, it is necessary and it will create better business results. And there is no quick fix.

We know from neuroscience a lot about how our brain works and how we can train and strengthen our pre-frontal cortex to get better at controlling the limbic system’s fear reactions. It is possible to get better at non-judgemental awareness and mindfulness – if we practise. It doesn’t take gurus or special off-site trainings in resort-style training environments, either. We can make it OK to spend some minutes per day thinking, noticing our thoughts and choosing our actions.

We know that people are not machines. They do not respond well to micro-management and leadership by fear. We want our people to be creative and that is possible in an environment where they feel valued, cared for and appreciated; where they have a sense of belonging. It is possible to create this in the workplace – without having costly and un-focused team-buildings off-site.

Culture is what people do.
Business culture is formed by what gets rewarded.

We know that a culture can change – and we know it takes time. We can change it if we want to. We can create a culture where it is OK to take a time-out to think. Where it is OK to have a disagreement that does not deteriorate to quarrels and dirty politics. Where people are OK to share half-baked ideas that others can develop further and where it is OK to fail – for the purpose of more creativity.

This is part of what we mean by re-humanising the workplace.


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