"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not."

Dr. Seuss


Hello!

I hope this finds you well. Here in Ireland we are emerging from a very long Lockdown which - timed with the beauty of spring - has given us a renewed sense of hope. It has been a challenging time for all, and a harrowing time for some. Let’s hope that there is light ahead for us all wherever we are living.

Working from home has been the norm for many people these past 12 + months and potentially returning to the workplace in the near future is seen with excitement by some, and concern by others. Many are looking to a "hybrid approach" of dividing the week between work days at home and in the office.

I’ve taken a dislike to the term ‘new normal’ but we all do wonder what a post-covid (or at least a new stage in the pandemic) will look like. For good or bad, we won’t be picking up where we left off in any sense and this is surely a time to navigate our futures.

The concept of a Kind Workplace has been in my head for weeks now, and questions posed on Linkedin recently drew a great discussion of what it means. Everyone agreed that effective leadership was needed, and that a tone of kindness and support really did come from the top. While I agree with the emphasis on good management, my focus in this issue is less on leadership from above, but on what we, as individuals, can contribute to making the world of work a kinder place to be - in person or virtually. As Dr Seuss says, it all starts with us!

In this issue:

  • What does a Kind and Resilient Workplace mean?
  • A challenge to be kind in 17 different ways!
  • Two excellent Ted Talks that will inspire us all to be kinder.

In closing, I wish you well in navigating the days ahead and hope that we can bring kindness into the workplace - virtually and in person!

All the best!

 
Kathleen Fanning

  

 

Kind Workplace

The words 'Kind Workplace' have been in my head for weeks now.

Of course, they equal a Resilient Workplace and I hope to show you why here.


A recent Harvard Business Review’s article ’The Secret to Building Resilience’ refers to research which challenges the notion that resilience is something only strong people can draw on internally,

“In short, resilience is not something we need to find deep down inside ourselves: we can actually become more resilient in the process of connecting with others in our most challenging times."

The authors speak of the importance of having a network at work, as well as at home, and the 150 successful leaders interviewed referred to bosses supporting and validating staff and being available when needed. Being able to draw on the resources of colleagues who stepped up as needed increased resilience - as did humour!

Kindness is an undervalued commodity in the workplace, yet research shows us that kindness can reap benefits in terms of job performance, commitment, and can even reduce the numbers of sick leave taken.

Positive Psychology

To those of us who value the principles of Positive Psychology, this is not surprising. Erin Urban points out that “Kindness is a key element to a successful, healthy, popular, and balanced life. Kindness and strength are not mutually exclusive - rather: only the strong can truly be kind."

Rather than it being a weakness, kindness is a huge strength. Dascher Keltner suggests that the association of the term Survival of the Fittest to Charles Darwin is incorrect - that Darwin actually believed humans were a social, caring species. Keltner coined the term ’Survival of the Kindest’ connecting with our survival instinct towards safety and connection.

Coca-Cola Kindness Study

With reference to another favourite topic of mine, the Ripple Effect,  Dr Pragya Agarwal refers to an interesting aspect of a happiness and kindness study in Coca Cola Madrid,

 ...acts of kindness are also contagious. So, there was an increasing amount of "prosocial" behavior with employees feeling that they were part of a unit and a workplace that looked after them and cared about them. People not only reciprocated the acts of kindness by taking the initiative to find out who had been kind to them but also paid it forward to others, thereby spreading the feeling of generosity. An additional side-advantage of this was that people were being more creative in how they could show their kindness and generosity, thereby making the employees think outside the box, and exercise creative thinking.

In addition, research shows us that kindness can lead to a competitive advantage in the workplace through improved relationships, increased sales and efficiency. Which prompts the question - "What are the steps we need to take to create a Kind Workplace?"

From LinkedIn

Last week, I posted a simple question on LinkedIn, "Is it possible to have a kind workplace?"  It brought forth a treasure trove of wisdom.

Suggestions came that Managers should ask more questions, be open to new ideas, and use empathy - and most importantly for leaders to lead by example. What I loved, though, was the call on us at all levels of an organisation (or family) to be interested and concerned about each other’s wellbeing. 

Other gems were:

  • see people as human beings rather than assets
  • frequent check-ins with 'no strings attached’ - listen to understand
  • assume positive intent - communicate to understand and be honest on unintended consequences
  • strong leadership is based on kindness and respect
  • know your own triggers and how to not let the trigger win
  • ask for feedback from someone you trust - to keep growing and improving

In closing...

The abundance of research and writing on this topic is heart warming. I would like to share the words from my coaching colleague Ursula Gilleran on what makes a workplace kind: 

“It’s the shared common attitude that creates a culture of kindness. Individuals can impact it negatively but where the majority are being kind in their interactions, they can counteract that negativity to a large extent."

So, here's a question... What is stopping us?


References can be found at the end of the newsletter*

Random Ways to be Kind at Work

In her article 17 random ways to be kind at work (and why it matters), Sarah Goff-Dupont begins with the statement, "Be kinder than necessary. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle."

So with that in mind, my challenge to you is to practice some - or all - of these ways to be practice kindness at work:

  1. Send flowers, edible treat or a coffee gift card to a teammate on their birthday or work anniversary.
  2. Learn your teammate’s working preferences (and follow them).
  3. If your team has an on-call rotation (or similar), offer to step in for the person who’s been working overtime (or you know is under stress).
  4. Always acknowledge the receipt of chat messages. With remote work, it can be easy to feel like we’re talking into a void.
  5. Relay the positive feedback you heard about someone’s work if they weren’t there to hear it first hand.
  6. Better yet, offer some positive feedback yourself with a hand written card or an e-card.
  7. Leave a public Linkedin recommendation for a teammate you enjoy working with.
  8. If you’re a manager, create opportunities for your team to praise each other. Celebrating small wins can go a long way in fostering term motivation.
  9. Invite new coworkers to a virtual coffee or lunch break. Make sure everyone feels like they’re part of the team, even when you’re remote.
  10. Share a link to an article about something you know a teammate finds interesting: a band, author, or movie series for example. Help people feel seen.
  11. Listen. If a colleague is struggling with something, her them out without immediately attempting to solve their problem.
  12. Instead of criticising in a moment of frustration, write it in an email to yourself. Send, wait a moment, then read it. If it stills feels important after those few minutes, by then you’ll probably have thought of a kinder, more constructive way to say it.
  13. Have lunch delivered to someone you know is having a busy week (but also needs to eat)!
  14. Share a personal story with your team. Being vulnerable allows us to show up more fully with our humanity and connect with each other on a more meaningful level.
  15. Re-share / RT posts referencing a teammate’s work, and add a bit of commentary for a personal touch.
  16. Simply ask your coworkers “How are you?” and check in with each other on a personal level from time to time. Informal thoughtfulness can mean a lot.
  17. Smile!

There is nothing stopping us doing some or all of these with friends and family too.

Sarah finishes her article up with a wonderful quote from Amelia Earhart: “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another."

Want to dive deeper into the subject of a Kind Workplace? Click here to schedule a complimentary Clarity Conversation with me!

I love sharing tips and tricks that have helped me along the way! Today I’m sharing two really good videos.

In this short Ted Talk you’ll hear Dubliner Mark Kelly speak about kindness and the difference it made in his workplace.

Click here to watch

 

Denise Walker describes the ripple effect of kindness in a thought provoking presentation.

Click here to watch

 

Click here to access my entire library of valuable resources!

I will be starting my Mental Fitness Booster Programme again soon.

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Many of you know I am living here in beautiful Tipperary in Ireland. The area is called the Golden Vale because of the richness of the soil. In the past year, I have found another kind of richness being able to deliver my training courses and work with my 1-1 coaching clients - all from the comfort of my home office! How lucky am I that I can work with groups and individuals in Ireland and the US without traveling at all - the gift of Zoom which most of us have benefitted from this past year.

Here are some of the programmes I offer:

My Bend Not Break Resilience & Wellbeing Workshop is perfectly suited to online learning and I’m delighted to have supported many participants in becoming more conscious about how to fill their 'wells of resilience’ on a daily basis.

I’ve recently launched an exciting new programme - Mental Fitness Bootcamp!  A recent participant said: “If you are hesitating about taking this course please don't. This will change your life , your relationships and your way of being. It is without a doubt one of the most insightful and transformative experiences of my life. Knowing about your hidden saboteurs and how to work with them changes everything.”

In my 1-1 Coaching, I work with women who are Senior Leaders in Business and Higher Education who are experiencing overwhelm in their working lives that spills over into their home lives. That initial starting point leads to many wonderful self discoveries and a new found commitment to caring for themselves. To borrow a phrase from a colleague, “Coaching offers us our personal guide to our world that is waiting to be discovered”!

To learn more, visit my website, Invest in Yourself here: www.invest-in-yourself.ie

You can also email me directly here:  kathleen@invest-in-yourself.ie


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*Article references:

  • Dr Pragya Agarwal, ‘Making Kindness a Priority in the Workplace. Forbes August 26, 2019
  • Cross, K. Dillon, and D. Greenberg, ‘The Secret to Building Resilience’. Harvard Business Review January 29th, 2021
  • Karen Liebenguth, ‘Leadership” why kindness is an underrated quality at work’ February 17th 2021 www.greenspacecoaching.com
  • Jennifer Spaulding, ‘Science Proves Demonstrating Kindness in the Workplace is Your Competitive Advantage’ Forbes, March 6th 2018
  • Erin Urban, ’The Remarkable Benefits of Kindness at Work’ Medium,  September 26th 2019

Kathleen Fanning
Invest in Yourself