Recently, I was given the opportunity to manage an amazing team in my job at Infor. I really wanted a leadership opportunity but was also nervous! I want to do it right. Leading for wellness and creating a positive work environment is important to me. We talk about the research all the time. Now it is time for me to put it into practice.
Today, I want to spend some time summarizing my favorite research that is particularly important in creating an environment for wellness. I’m so lucky to be starting from a good place since our overall department is very positive. But, I want to ensure I am keeping my team happy and thriving. Specifically, there are three key areas that I believe lay the groundwork for a great workplace.
First, let’s talk about psychological safety. We’ve talked about this concept before but, basically, it’s all about creating a safe space. A workplace has psychological safety when employees feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their opinions or ideas. Leaders and coworkers support and encourage this type of open dialogue. There are no risks or consequences for sharing your ideas.
I really want to foster psychological safety on my team. I want everyone to feel like they can come to me with anything, be open, and have no fear about judgment or consequences.
If you want to know if you have a psychologically safe workplace, ask yourself a few questions.
- Is it easy to discuss difficult issues or concerns with the team?
- Has anyone ever been rejected for being or thinking differently?
- Is it easy for your team members to come to you for help?
- Are mistakes held against you or your team members?
Answer key for psychological safety: Yes, No, Yes, No.
In my new role, I’m trying to keep these questions top of mind. I think it’s good to come back every few weeks to these questions. If you aren’t actively checking yourself, it’s easy to make mistakes and fall short of the ideal.
With psychological safety often comes inclusion. That’s the goal for me. As we’ve talked about before, diversity, inclusion, and equity are all important topics for well-being and positive work cultures. I want my team to feel included and empowered to meet their potential.
Part of inclusion is authenticity. For example, we know being authentic at work is linked to well-being but only if others accept you. Therefore, it’s critical to create a workspace where employees can be authentic and accepted. I want to create an environment where everyone is accepted and able to be authentic.
Additionally, transparency is critical for inclusion. I am striving to be open and honest with my team at all times. I want them to know they can count on me to keep them in the loop. Furthermore, I am trying to include them in decision making as much as possible. The goal is to ensure all team members feel informed.
In sum, I will be checking in on how inclusive I am being in this new role. I know inclusion leads to wellness and productivity so it’s a win-win for everyone!
Finally, I want to focus on freedom or autonomy. We know freedom is linked to so many positive outcomes. Employees want to have control of their work. Feeling micro-managed can be incredibly stifling. Employees that are able to manage their own work and tasks and how they do them are much happier and more productive. My goal is to stay far away from micro-managing. I am lucky to have a super high performing team so this should be easy! I will definitely be checking in with them from time to time to make sure I am living up to this standard.
Freedom also is tied to flexibility. For example, employees that can work from home some of the time are generally better off. Lucky for me, our company supports remote work so I can easily provide this type of flexibility to my team. I will always try to keep an open-mind with any other flexibility requests I may receive. Ensuring my team members’ autonomy is very important to me! The research has really hammered this point home so I need to practice it in my new job.
Leading for Wellness
So, to sum up, my focus as a new leader is to ensure my team feels psychologically safe, included, and in control of their own work. While there’s a lot more that can be done to create a well work environment, I know this foundation is a required necessity. Pretty much everything we talk about from a workplace wellness perspective is not possible without these three fundamental concepts. In leading for wellness, my goal is to keep my team thriving, happy, and engaged for the long-term!
Now I want to hear from you! Any advice as I start on this new leadership journey? What’s worked for you in creating a positive workplace for your team?