by Ramin Sedehi
Most organizations have had a tough year of staying afloat, surviving amidst the pandemic. The downturn in the economy, supply chain problems, and the sheer emotional cost of people dealing with the pandemic, have taken a toll on our organizations. The brief period in the early summer where it appeared that the availability of vaccines would result in the rebounding of the economy and that work would resume its pre-pandemic pace gave us hope. But soon, the pervasiveness of the delta variant and its impact, once again, changed our trajectory. Add to this the shortage of talent, and we have organizations that literally do not have enough people to operate and reach their business goals effectively. For example, in the case of hospitals, we see the closure of units due to extreme staff shortages, which exacerbates the already epidemic of burnout.
So, given all of this, why should we focus on thriving when all we can do is survive? This is a question we hear often, and it is valid and understandable. Of course, surviving is critical but, it is crucial to go beyond that to set your organization on a path for success.
The survival mindset is a fear-based response for the most part. The fear of a worst-case scenario pushes the organization through the difficult times, employing an all-hands-on-deck mindset which, while effective in the short-term, is unsustainable once the crisis is over. Burnout, quite common among many of our “first-responders,” is now being seen in other professions. The rate of individuals taking themselves out of the workforce continues at an alarming level. Survival mode quickly sets aside long-term strategy, plans, growth ideas, and innovation, all for the sake of just getting to the next quarter – this is sure to have long-lasting adverse effects for your business and the people in it.
On the other hand, the thriving mindset is courage-based, focused on dreams and aspirations, not on fears. In such an organization, everyday survival fills only part of any given day. Growth strategy, innovative ideas, creativity, and engaged employees drive toward achieving the organizational vision. Holistic and systemic understanding of issues, opportunities, and the people in the organization is the prevalent trait observed in flourishing organizations.
Thriving is a wellness mindset. And as we all know, wellness is not just the absence of illness but rather a level of being that is capable of doing so much more. The basis of organizational wellness is the presence of trust and psychological safety. Those, in turn, can only occur when individuals are capable of emotional connection with others they depend on in getting their work done. Emotions are a language foreign to the workplace which we are not comfortable using. Contrary to our belief that we often act on logic, emotions drive much of what we do.
People who are emotionally connected with each other spend less time in conflict, are more capable of forming productive collaborations, and show resilience in meeting uncertainties. Businesses report reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, and less stress. When we connect with others, we satisfy our most basic need for attachment with other humans; we move beyond ourselves to build collective strength and fulfill shared obligations.
At EmC leaders, we teach the language of emotions so people can interact with each other in familiar terms to create a place where emotional safety can be nurtured. Thriving organizations foster strong emotional bonds to form durable relationships that allow their employees to prosper and for the company to reach its ambitious goals.
To help your organization have a thriving mindset:
Do consistently discuss your vision and outline the path to achieve your ambitious targets. Encourage collaborations and cross-departmental conversations. Be an idea champion and encourage others to do the same. Use the language of emotions to establish a deeper connection with all the people you work with. Learn to respond to emotions being expressed to create the safety needed to hear from people and to convey their importance. Your emotional balance will pave the way toward greater psychological safety for your teams so they can freely share ideas and approaches.
Don’t allow any conflicts to brew and fester. Unaddressed conflicts create a destructive negative cycle that will eventually impact the quality of work and the team’s productivity. Don’t let expertise create an intimidating environment, so people with good ideas are shut out. Don’t confuse management with leadership; the former is for control; the latter is to inspire. Don’t be satisfied with financial results as a sign of organizational health; create emotional safety to learn about people’s feelings, fears, and hopes.