Workplaces have had two broad, competing philosophies: Bring your whole self to work. And encourage work-life balance.
The very point of people centricity is not that one is better than the other. Instead, the point is noting the choice is very personal. Workplace cultures will tend to lean one way or another, and so leaders are meant to listen to employees to ensure a healthy balance of the two. A workplace that becomes too personally intertwined gets complex. A workplace that removes all personality gets stifling.
So, then, in an era of partisanship and in a year of extreme external stress, leaders have a tricky challenge: Are we creating space for important topics, or are we forcing our teammates into uncomfortable conversations? One choice might be right for one workplace but wrong for another; one conversation could be helpful for one employee but hurtful for another.
The point? Build and maintain relationships, get honest feedback and listen.
That’s the focus of this week’s episode of The TWIJ Show, an interview series from Technical.ly on building better workplaces. To get at this idea of talking about external stress at work, I spoke to Anthony Vaughan and Angela R. Howard, the cofounders of E1B2, a business consultancy with an eye toward what they call “employee centricity.”
- Should leaders talk about external stress, like politics? Yes. Leaders have to create space for employees to speak about stress to normalize it. That means at all-staff meetings or in private team groups. Make this normal.
- How do I know if I’m doing too much or too little? Ask your employees! Have conversations.
- Take a stand. This is made trickier still because leaders can no longer hide by making no stance at all. Employees are expecting for stances that are consistent work organizational culture.