478 words, approx. 2 mins reading time
‘Right, so what’s the problem we need to solve?’ is the automatic first question when embarking on any kind of improvement strategy. But when that strategy is to improve employee wellbeing it is exactly the WRONG question to ask.
Here are 2 reasons why you will waste a lot of time and energy and probably make the problem worse by trying to work out the root cause of your organisational problems.
You are making the incorrect assumptions that, A, you need to know and, B, it is possible to discover the root of the problem.
The general assumption is that order solve a problem, you need to know what it is. And In order to discover the problem, you have to shine a light on it. But in reality,this approach can put up peoples defences and make them feel like they are being investigated or even blamed. By taking this approach, to the employee they can read into it that there is an assumption that somebody has intended to cause harm or that there has been incompetence or neglect. A more helpful assumption to start out with is that all your employees act with positive intentions at all times.
On top of this, the underlying issues may be complex. People are complex. Often problems that manifest in symptoms such as high rates of absence, staff turnover or workplace disputes are held deep in the unconscious of both the individuals and the organisation. Even with total openness and honesty, you may merely be getting an inaccurate interpretation of the problem. By its very nature, you will probably never be able to pinpoint its true source.
Instead of trying to get to the bottom of the problem, all you need to do is simply put measures in place to support and improve the wellbeing of your employees. You’ll be amazed at the self-healing effect that this has.
Energy flows where attention goes.
When you are focussing on the problem, you are giving it attention and therefore feeding it with energy. Did you know that our brains cannot process negatives? So if I was to say to you now “Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant with blue polka dots”. Yep, you’ve got it – a picture of a pink elephant with blue polka dots pops into your head.
The same applies when we focus on what we don’t want instead of what we do want. For example, working really hard to send out a strong message that in this organisation there is “no place for bullying” is unwittingly planting ‘bullying’ in people’s mind. They are then unconsciously attracted to that behaviour. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be overcome, but it does mean that it has a cancelling effect on the endeavours you do make and you must put even more effort into addressing that particular issue. A better message might be “A fair and compassionate workplace for all”.
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