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As people across industries leave their jobs for a range of motives—from mediocre work cultures to chronic stress to the desire for greater job autonomy—leading in ways that cultivate the capacity of people to thrive has become one of the biggest leadership imperatives. That includes building the capability to hold skillful conversations about thriving with others, as well as asking those same questions of ourselves.

For many leaders, talking about wellbeing can be uncomfortable, revealing, and a departure from the norm. And it requires being on the wellbeing journey, a path of inquiry and practice that can be upending and transformative. It can be difficult to go there. And may mean stepping up your leadership game to hold personal conversations about thriving with your team and the people in it.

You can start with these four steps:

1. Encourage people to set aside time to think about what thriving in life and work means to them, as well as how they are doing today. 

Try this exercise to help your team tap into their stories of thriving. Then, listen to what your employees have learned about themselves. When you listen sincerely—not for what you want to hear, but for what is true for them—you may find many people are struggling: they’re overwhelmed, stressed, lonely. Yet, other people may be flourishing: they’ve found a whole new way of living and working remotely that fits their life phase. When it comes to questions about thriving, you can’t assume that everyone is the same.

Thoughtfully done in a team setting, this exploration can also be great way to strengthen team bonds. Check out this case study at the international food company Barilla for a great example.

2. Assist employees in adding “thriving” as part of their performance objectives, development, and career plans.

Prioritizing thriving isn’t about a place we finally reach some time in the distant future; it is about using the stresses and complexities we’re in today to cultivate our capacity to be well and grow as human beings. Ask each employee to integrate their vision and goals for thriving as part of their focus on performance, learning, and growth.

3. Notice the moments of opportunity to provide real-time coaching for thriving.

Coaching for performance is important, for sure; yet, coaching for thriving is about making performance sustainable. A stressed-out colleague, an energy-depleted team member, an employee who is languishing—you can help your team recommit to making their work a source of wellbeing through your competent coaching support. Not sure you’re ready to coach for thriving? Use this checklist to see if you’re on track.

4. Encourage the team to lean into the resources available through your organization or their community.

These can be excellent reinforcements for embracing thriving in the work culture and as a personal way to live. Many organizations have a robust system of support, as examples: employee resource groups, employee assistance programs and mental wellness care, smart-working technology, healthy food and fitness activities, medical assistance, financial literacy programs, outdoor environments, mindfulness education, brain training, etc. As a positive consequence of the pandemic, the communities in which your employees live also likely offer a range of mental, emotional, physical, and social wellbeing resources.

 

Around the world, the chaos of the pandemic had a few silver linings; one of those is that we are dedicating more conversations and resources to support our collective ability to thrive. Whether you experiment with the suggestions above or discover approaches on your own, we hope you’ll initiate thriving conversations with your team. (And please let us know in the comments below how it goes!)

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