- How can organizations foster greater employee thriving?
- What are four risks to creating a thriving culture that organizations need to manage?
- What should coaches and leaders know about how wellbeing and diversity, equity, and inclusion intersect?
Bringing your authentic self to work is a concept that has gained traction recently. It includes the true state of your mental health and has big implications for the state of your overall wellbeing. How can organizations "move the needle" and promote the thriving of their employees? What part does diversity, equity and inclusion play in this? And what practical steps can organizations take to avoid the pitfalls or risks that keep their cultures from thriving? Join Gallup Senior Consultant and Culture Transformation Practice Manager Natasha Jamal for Part 3 of our series on wellbeing.
Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 49. This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on wellbeing. Access Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, and Part 5 of this series on wellbeing.
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.
While positivity and optimism can actually enable wellbeing, the "positivity for positivity's sake" has sort of the opposite effect of that.Natasha Jamal, 15:58
Culture is about, How do you treat people when things are at their worst?Natasha Jamal, 25:49
I think we all love a day off. But wanting and needing it so badly that we can't wait for that day off signals that there might also be an issue in our workplace.Natasha Jamal, 34:37
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on October 4, 2021.
Jim Collison 0:18
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's just a link right on the top of the page there. Join us on YouTube and ask your questions in chat. If you're listening after the fact and you have some questions, you can always send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app. For this, you can just search "Called to Coach" or "Gallup Webcasts" will get you there as well. Subscribe right there on YouTube at the button below. Ryan Wolf is our host today. Ryan's a Physical Wellbeing Lead here at Gallup. And Ryan, it's always great to spend Mondays with you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Ryan Wolf 1:01
Yeah, thank you, Jim. Appreciate it. It's always good to be with you, no matter what day of the week it is. But thanks for hosting us. And it's great to be here with you as well, Natasha. So welcome to Called to Coach!
Natasha Jamal 1:15
Thank you. It's so nice to be here.
Ryan Wolf 1:18
Awesome. Can you, so we've got a lot of strengths enthusiasts and coaches out there. Can you start with just a quick introduction of your role and your Top 5?
Natasha Jamal 1:29
Of course, absolutely. So I lead our culture and diversity, equity and inclusion practices here at Gallup. So basically work across all of our different entities to take our insights and research to organizations to help them figure out how to move the needle. So how do you take action? We have all this data, but what do you do about it in your organization? And my Top 5 are Achiever, Futuristic, Learner, Input and Strategic. So, you know, I lead with that Executing Achiever -- wake up every day, ready to do stuff. And then I use my next few strengths to really think about and strategize about how I'm going to get all that work done. So those are my Top 5.
Ryan Wolf 2:18
Love it. We'll let everyone on here kind of dissect that as they listen to you give some of your insights. But it's good to have you here today. Because we've been getting a whole lot of questions and having a lot of conversations about how to make DEI more of a strategic component for wellbeing and workplace outcomes. So diversity, equity and inclusion are -- they're obviously a timeless topic, but the pandemic has definitely amplified the call and the significance to really strategically integrate DEI to the max within workplace cultures through communications, policies, through development and so on, so. And the pandemic really disproportionately kind of impacted some groups and some people who were already feeling either left out or marginalized and, and also -- paradoxically, almost -- the topic of wellbeing at the same time was, was really boosted throughout corporations and workplaces.
Ryan Wolf 3:20
So we have seen strides, but there's still, still a lot of opportunities out there for, for people, for leaders, for organizations. So there's, there's a convergence that really people can get really right here with you today to integrate wellbeing and DEI together. So for those who aren't quite fully aware yet, can you give us a quick background on the Gallup Center for Black Voices and our DEI research and practice?
Natasha Jamal 3:50
Absolutely. So the Gallup Center on Black Voices is a 100-year commitment that Gallup made, and that was 1 year ago -- we just came up on our one-year anniversary -- to study the specific experience of Black Americans. And studying that experience related to job and life outcomes, health and wellbeing, community, education, justice, and publishing all of these findings on a national level. All of these are available for everyone to look at, to use as you think about your own coaching strategies, as you think about, you know, how you impact DEI in your own workplaces. We also have something called our Cultural Competence Podcast, which, you know, every episode talks to a different practitioner in the field about What does it look like? What is the state of DEI at different organizations? How do you actually take some of this research and apply it in organizations? So some, you know, really practical types of tips for what different companies are doing. So, you know, that's our Gallup Center on Black Voices.
Natasha Jamal 4:59
In addition to that, our research practice, you know, really looks at all of these -- diversity, equity and inclusion -- and has done some updated research. We have an updated perspective paper coming out. We've increased our number of questions that we're asking around these topics. We also have now some leadership roundtables to hear directly from leaders across the country. What are the hottest topics? What are the biggest things they're learning in their organizations? And you know, a lot of my job is just to take all of those different inputs and say, OK, how do we affect this, at Company X, right? What is your story related to this? How do we take action? So really going from that data to action standpoint, and thinking about all the intersections for the employees in your workplace, including wellbeing, which is such a critical component of how employees show up every day.
Ryan Wolf 5:57
Cool. So we've got a lot of people leaders, a lot of wellbeing leaders on the call; strengths coaches. What's, what's something, or more than one thing, that, that you've been recently kind of either learning or discovering that's really relevant for, for this group here today?
Connections Between DEI and Wellbeing
Natasha Jamal 6:15
You know, I think, when I think about the connections between DEI and wellbeing on a very fundamental level, the reality is that inclusive workplaces improve the overall wellbeing of their employees. When we think about how much of our lives we spend at work, right? Work might be the single most thing -- the, the No. 1 activity that we do in our lives in terms of time spent, right? And if that's a reality, we want to make that time as good, as fulfilling, as purposeful as it can be. So you know, organizations that are really thinking about how to include people -- all the differences that they bring, but how to really value those differences -- do make strides in terms of wellbeing. We know that what happens at work affects the rest of your life.
Natasha Jamal 7:10
And I also like to say the reverse is true, right? What happens in the rest of your life also impacts work. So if you had a fight with a friend; if you are not getting along with someone outside of work, that is going to impact how you're feeling on a Monday morning, right. That is going to impact how you show up to work. So both of those arenas are so influenced by each other, and in the last year and a half, even more so, right? Because those boundaries that we used to be able to draw are, are not really existent anymore. We know that the lines between work and the rest of our lives have been blurred so much. And we know that, you know, when we have cultures that value all of these different experiences that people have, all of these different backgrounds, then people are also happier in their lives. So, you know, work is not going away; work continues to persist. There's a lot of it. But how do we make that a more fulfilling experience for people?
Natasha Jamal 8:14
And I think about that notion, right, that has really increased in popularity recently of bringing our authentic selves to work; our full selves to work. There was a time when workplaces, either implicitly or explicitly said, Hey, don't bring all of yourself to work, right? Really just, just leave that part at home; we don't really need that, right. And now it's like, that's not, that's not really an option. And hopefully, that's not even the direction we want to go. So when we think about bringing that authentic self to work, our wellbeing is a critical component of that authentic self. How we're feeling, how we're doing physically, emotionally, socially, financially -- all of those things are part of how we show up and part of how we hope we're valued at work. So that's a huge part of it.
Natasha Jamal 9:07
And because we're Gallup, we've actually measured this as well, right? So we've measured how -- we assumed that, you know, more inclusive environments mean that employees thrive in their wellbeing, but we actually tested that out. And we saw that, sure enough, organizations where people feel really respected, feel like they belong, feel like they can be themselves, feel like they're valued for their strengths are also organizations where more employees say they are thriving at work. So there is that direct connection in terms of the data as well, right? We're not, we're not here to just talk about the data; we want to hear about people's experiences. But the data is there for those of us that want it, for those of us that need it, right.
Natasha Jamal 9:48
So I think it's -- implicitly, it's there; explicitly, it's also there. And I think in the last year and a half, we've just seen, we've seen wellbeing become that topic, right, of more prominence, for sure. But a lot of these issues existed well before the pandemic, right? It's just, they're coming to light now. And part of that bringing your authentic self to work is bringing all of those different things you're feeling in terms of your wellbeing.
Ryan Wolf 10:17
Yeah, I love this. And kind of what I'm hearing you say, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that wellbeing is DEI and DEI is wellbeing. Is it as simple as that?
Natasha Jamal 10:28
I'd say that they really influence each other, right? That I don't think that you can do one well without the other. So if you really want to think about someone's wellbeing in an organization, and you're gonna say, "Oh, we're gonna focus on wellbeing, but diversity, equity and inclusion are not part of that equation," it's not really going to work. And by the same token, if you say, you know, "We care about diversity, equity and inclusion, but, you know, wellbeing -- this is a workplace; we're not really going to think about that." It's not going to work. So they're so integrated, and I think that they also give more power to each other. I think when we think about -- I like to think about it as an "and" instead of an "or." So when we think about that intersection and where they connect, I think that's really where the power comes.
Ryan Wolf 11:20
Love it. So in, in our previous conversation in this wellbeing series that we've been conducting here for the last month or so we talked with Mohamed and Anthony about net thriving. So that's a concept that was kind of highlighted pretty well in the Wellbeing at Work book written by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter; just published this summer. So we talked with Mohamed and Anthony, we talked about why net thriving is significant, and how it is measured and why it should be implemented. So, but we haven't really discussed too much yet about how to actually move the needle and make a difference in net thriving -- in those quantifiable, in that quantifiable measurement.
Moving the Needle on Employee Thriving: Mental Health
Ryan Wolf 12:06
So I think it'd be helpful if we walked through kind of the 4 Risks of a Net Thriving Culture that are highlighted in the book, kind of as a, sort of as a framework to discuss that. So the first risk is employee mental health. So what should we, as coaches, as leaders of people, as wellbeing leader initiatives, leaders of wellbeing initiatives, what should we know about DEI initiatives that can kind of contribute to positive mental health outcomes in the workplace?
Natasha Jamal 12:37
Yeah, and I think that this relates a lot to that idea of bringing your whole self to work, right. Part of me is what I may be struggling with, from a mental health perspective or the different emotions that I'm having. And for a long time, organizations said, "You know, this is not really something we talk about." And still, right, there's a lot of, there's this whole history of stigma attached to mental health, and talking about it, you know, in a work setting -- there are people that remember a time in their workplace where that just wasn't allowed, right? Maybe many of us on the line here remember that time when someone may have said something, and that wasn't positive. I think those things are starting to change. I think the pandemic helped us bring to light a lot of issues.
Natasha Jamal 13:29
I know I've seen on LinkedIn so many leaders even coming out and talking about mental health, either through their own personal stories and struggles they faced, or through, you know, other examples they've seen in the workplace. Sort of making it OK to talk about, right. And I think that is one of the biggest pieces of it: How do we make it so that we actually can say that we're struggling a little bit, right, that something's not perfect? A lot of times people ask the question, right? They say, "How are you doing?" And autopilot response is, "Oh, I'm great. I'm great. Everything's fine." Right? And that's sort of the answer that a lot of us are expecting when we say it, or maybe we're asking just to ask. But how do we create an environment where we're asking that question and we really want an honest response? And we're OK with whatever that response is.
Natasha Jamal 14:28
We hear about this concept of toxic positivity. So toxic positivity is, it's not, not to be confused with the CliftonStrengths Positivity theme, right, but toxic positivity is more about even when things are not going well, just disregarding those feelings. Saying that things are great or saying, "Look on the bright side," or always veering towards positivity rather than accepting the range of human emotions that we have and the realities that other people could be facing. So how do we really create that environment where we're actually allowed to say, "I'm not doing great today." Right? Or "I'm not 'just fine' today." And, you know, we've seen things, like we've seen organizations where they do something simple, like a check-in at the beginning of a call, and they say, "How is your wellbeing on a scale?" right. And sometimes people will check in at a 2. And sometimes people will check in at an 8. And it's just helpful to know that, right, going into a meeting to say, OK, this person's not doing great today, and I know that as we go in through our meeting.
Natasha Jamal 15:38
So just a lens, that human lens, to look at someone through and to say that, that is part of their reality when they come into work, too, right. So really thinking about that and really just acknowledging the, that range of emotions. I just think that, you know, while positivity and optimism can actually enable wellbeing, the "positivity for positivity's sake" has sort of the opposite effect of that. And I actually want to talk about this a little bit -- mental health, specifically when we think about different groups too, because we've actually seen some trends.
Natasha Jamal 16:19
And when we think about, you know, groups such as women, right, women as a broader group, there are some specific things you can think about. Women face particular challenges in the workplace related to pay differences, increased share of child care and home responsibilities, and sexual harassment. That affects your mental health. When we think about men, cultural norms often suggest that you shouldn't talk about emotional components of how you're feeling, right, so less likely to talk about wellbeing, even, and less likely to talk about mental health, even if you feel something. When we think of LGBTQ+ members of our community, there's just increased mental health concerns and feeling the whole spectrum of mental health issues. When we think of people of color, more likely to report some kind of unwanted race-related issue related to the workplace that's affected their mental health.
Natasha Jamal 17:26
And then when we think about generations, right -- and this is, this is a really big one, because we have all of the generations in the workforce. Boomers are less likely to feel comfortable talking about mental health. On the other hand, millennials and Gen Z are more comfortable, more likely to say an organization actually affected their mental health, their workplace did, and more likely to leave an organization because of mental health. So these are just a few examples of how, when we think about the diversity of our workforce and where people are coming from, there are some specifics. I think the most interesting thing, though, is that no one really fits into just one identity, right? There is an intersection of this.
Natasha Jamal 18:10
So if you're a woman, but you're also a woman of color, how are those multiple identities influencing different things in your workplace that also contribute to your mental health? I think as coaches, the most valuable thing we can do, however, is be aware of some of these differences, but also just find out from the individual that we're coaching, What are some of the things that they're working on? What are some of the things that they're experiencing? Because, you know, when we think about diversity, there's a diversity in how people experience their emotions, how comfortable people feel about talking about their emotions, depending on where they're coming from. So a lot of our job as a coach is also to individualize that to their, to their experience. So, you know, patterns and trends about groups, I think are certainly helpful. But I think individualizing and contextualizing is really important as well.
Ryan Wolf 19:12
Oh, Jim, I think you're on mute.
Jim Collison 19:15
You know, what can you do? We've only been doing this for 2 years, right, during the pandemic. Natasha, I've been in the workforce since early '90s. We began to kind of think of this, like, when I needed a day off for mental health, we said "I'm taking a mental health day." And like it had to be, we kind of thought of it as something completely different than a sick day. And I think, even in those times, we needed to justify it, in some ways, differently. You know, PTO has gone a completely different direction in the last 30 years. Is it, is it healthy that -- when we think of mental health, we roll that in with everything else that we take time off for? Or is this something that still needs to kind of be separate, and maybe different, as we think about the, the way that fits into our "taking time off" culture?
Natasha Jamal 20:04
Well, I think the mental health day concept, you know, while it's been around for a while, you're right that, you know, people had to justify like, right, Why, why do I need that mental health day? We're a lot more comfortable with a physical health day, right? Like "I'm sick"; something that's a little bit more visible. I think about that, too, in diversity, right? The very visible differences are often the ones we feel a little more comfortable or inclined to talk about. The less visible differences are ones that we have a little bit more challenge with, right? And you can kind of get that on a human level, right? It's a little bit easier to talk about when you can see it; when there is some kind of physical manifestation of that.
Natasha Jamal 20:48
And I think with mental health days, yes, like, there was a lot of, "Yeah, let me justify it," or "I'm not going to try to take too many" or, you know, or "Maybe I won't tell people exactly why I'm taking it." And now in the last year and a half, right, we see that becoming much more of, you know, even when organizations say, Oh, sick days -- maybe we call them something even different than that, right? Like maybe we call them "wellbeing days," or, you know, just something different than just "sick," right, or we even expand our definition of what that looks like. I also think, now, organizations, we see a lot of organizations giving employees all a mental health day, right. So like, you can all take this together.
Natasha Jamal 21:38
We know burnout, I mean, we know that even in 2019, about three-fourths of people said they experienced burnout at least sometimes on the job. That number, I think, has come to four-fifths of people during the pandemic. And so we know that's a real thing. And organizations are now kind of putting some of that onus on themselves to say, you don't actually always have to ask for this; we are going to give this to you. We're actually going to say that we know that you feel burned out in some way or another. We know that there might be something going on that isn't causing you to feel like an 8 out of 10 or a 10 out of 10. So we're going to give them, we're going to give everyone that time period, either at the same time or at different times, to actually do that. I think those types of things, seeing those types of things are really, really encouraging.
Natasha Jamal 22:29
I think the danger can be if we think that every other day at work has to be grind, grind, grind, and you just work till, you know, you can't work anymore. Because the reality is, what about all of the days that we are at work? Can we still talk about mental health those days too? Can we still normalize saying, "Hey, I don't feel that great?" Or do we have to compartmentalize those to the days that we're off? So again, I think it's an "and" type of thing, right? I think it's really, really helpful to have those days. And I think it's great if organizations can start that conversation of saying, you know, probably everyone needs, needs some time for this. But then also saying the days that we are at work, we're also going to normalize mental health and that being a part of our reality, so, so that it's not just, you know, we only focus on our mental health when we're not at work.
Moving the Needle on Employee Thriving: Purpose
Ryan Wolf 23:28
Yeah, I think that's great to just, to add that on, and not just decide if we're making initiatives and creating a culture of work that we appreciate. It's not one or the other, and it's, but it's probably both that you mentioned. So, so the 4 Risks to a Net Thriving Culture. First one is employee mental health. The second one is the lack of clarity and purpose that we might feel in our work and our job. So, in, in a pre-pandemic article that you wrote, Natasha, on gallup.com, you wrote that, "Purpose is at the heart of culture, but culture is bigger than purpose." Can you kind of explain how that statement that you wrote 2 years ago, how that's evolved during the last 2 years, but also how it still might be relevant today?
Natasha Jamal 24:16
Yeah, I mean, I think purpose is a critical ingredient in how all organizations should live their culture. But I think culture of an organization is so many little and big things that we experience every day. And at the heart of it, it's about the actions and behaviors that leaders role model. And I think those actions and behaviors are really put under a microscope and in the spotlight during really hard times. So when we think about the last year and a half, and organizations were going through all kinds of things -- there were layoffs, there were changes, there was restructuring. There were times when we didn't even know if a business would stay afloat or not.
Natasha Jamal 25:01
And then, you know, there were also organizations on the other side of that that were really thriving, right, and benefiting. So there were all types of things going on in the workplace. But the biggest thing was that there was, there was a lot of change. There was a lot of change for employees; there was a lot of blurring of those lines between work and life. And I think culture is really about How do organizations behave during really hard times? It's easy to really be a great place to work if everything's going well, right. It's easy to really enjoy your job if all the numbers are great, if everyone's feeling good, if the business is doing well. But what about times when there's a lot of uncertainty and risk? And we don't know who's going to be with us in the next day or the next week?
Natasha Jamal 25:48
And I think culture is about, How do you treat people when things are at their worst? And how do you also treat people when, you know, they can't be as productive as they once were, because they're dealing with other types of things? So I think culture really comes out in the most challenging times that an organization faces. And organizations that, you know, started to really put wellbeing at the center of their cultures, which a lot of organizations did, right. Like Google created a new manifesto on wellbeing, just to put some words around, How do you show up at work? I think those really sent a lot of important messages to, to employees. And organizations that are saying that we are going to be inclusive; we actually value all the different ways that you're feeling all of these types of things, we did see, you know, better, better outcomes.
Natasha Jamal 26:48
But that's not why you do it, right? Like the reason that you do all of these things is yes, you hope, you know, that will ultimately make your business better; that will ultimately make things go better. But you do it in that moment because it's, it's the right thing to do. It's the right way to treat people, regardless of that profit or productivity type of incentive. So I think that, you know, purpose really drives how you think about culture, but culture is also measured by the absolute worst behavior you're willing to tolerate in your organization. And we saw in some organizations that there are some pretty bad behaviors that some organizations will tolerate when it comes down to it, right, when it comes down to those tough decisions. So what are leaders really saying when, when times get really tough? Because it's a lot easier to say, you know, "Our culture is great," when, when it, when everything feels good.
Employee Purpose and DEI
Ryan Wolf 27:49
How about individuals, their own specific purpose and what they, what they feel like they're getting from their job? Can you talk about how that is influenced by DEI?
Natasha Jamal 28:01
Yeah, so I mean, I think when we think at the individual level, right, we are all dealing with different things. And depending on, depending on those things, we show up at work, and, you know, and some of our workplaces, we have a very clear sense of purpose, right? We know why we're there; we know why we picked that workplace. But then, you know, a time comes where a lot of things change in an organization. We saw this in the last year and a half, where people suddenly maybe, you know, their everyday job was to work really closely with customers to solve X, Y and Z challenge. But suddenly, their customers no longer could engage with them, or they didn't have any customers. So suddenly, what is your purpose, right? When your whole job changes, or you have to pivot, what does that really mean?
Natasha Jamal 28:56
And then also, when we think about purpose, you know, we talked about we spend so much of our lives at work, right? So work takes on such a big part of purpose for an individual. We saw that people were being laid off; we saw that this disproportionately happened to women and to people of color. So losing a sense of purpose, at least that job purpose, was also a really big piece of it, right? So in that sense, how someone was laid off; what their company said to them; what support they were being provided with -- those types of things were really important too. We know that there are some realities that, where organizations had to lay off people or had to change people's jobs a little bit. But how did those things get messaged? Those really affected people at an individual level.
Natasha Jamal 29:47
And, you know, when I think about managers too, we can't disregard the impact that your local environment has on you. So if the manager is that person -- and, you know, I think coaches played this role too, of that person that you trust, that person that you talk to regularly -- how are those people checking in on you? How are those people actually asking you questions to ask? And how are those people also helping, you know, when I think of like leaders communicate that overall vision and direction, but managers help us translate what that means for our day-to-day lives. So when something has changed in an organization, is a manager helping to clarify, What does that mean for your role? What does that mean for your development? What does that mean for how you continue to contribute to an organization?
Natasha Jamal 30:41
And when I think about, you know, especially younger generations in the workforce, where that is so important, right, having that sense of purpose -- not just having a paycheck and a stable job, but having a sense of purpose in what you're doing, that's increasingly important. And that's the direction that we're going in as well, if we think of, you know, millennials becoming 75% of the workforce by 2025.
Moving the Needle on Employee Thriving: Overreliance
Ryan Wolf 31:10
That's great. So we, you actually talked a little bit about policies already. And I want to talk to them, I want to talk to you about that again, because overreliance on things like policies, programs and perks is the third Risk of a Net Thriving Culture. So how can, how, I guess, how can we avoid that? How do you see that manifesting in the workforce? What we can, what can we do to kind of make sure we're not just using those as a crutch?
Natasha Jamal 31:38
So I think the word "overreliance" is the key word there, right. And so it's not to say, Don't have any policies, programs, or perks that help with people's wellbeing, right. And I say that because sometimes organizations will look at that and say, "OK, we're going to take away all the gym benefits; we're going to not have any mental health days; we're not going to encourage people to go to the doctor -- we're not going to do any of that. We're just gonna have a better culture." So again, it's an "and," right. So I think those things are super important. I think organizations recognizing those things are really important. But I've also seen organizations where you have this fantastic leave policy, right, for all caregivers, all parents of new children. But then when you return to work, you have zero flexibility. You -- no one really cares if you have a situation with your child or anything like that.
Natasha Jamal 32:37
They said, "Oh, well, you have this great leave; that's when, you know, you deal with things." So only dealing with things through a policy or a program and not dealing with things the other 90% or 95% of the time when you're actually at work is really difficult, right? So only focusing on my wellbeing when I'm at the gym, and not focusing on my wellbeing when I'm spending 8 to however many -- 15 hours -- some of us have had 15-hour days, right, in front of my computer; I can't even stand up for 5 minutes. I can't even go and eat my lunch. But, you know, I have this great gym perk. That's not going to work. Right? So we've seen organizations that say, "But we have these great gym benefits. We have mental health days. We have parental leave policies. Why are employees still not happy?" Because it's not part of your culture, right?
Natasha Jamal 33:29
Because all of those days that we are at work, which is the majority of our time, we're not encouraged to even ask people how they're doing. We're not -- and if we ask people, we don't know if those people can actually tell us the truth, because of that toxic positivity again, right? "Oh, I'm great. I'm good. Everything's fine." Because -- and I think about how us as coaches, us as leaders can model those things too, right? How do we create that space where someone's not just gonna say that? How do I tell someone on a day when I'm not doing well that, "Hey, it's not a great day for me." And, you know, I may or may not say why, but I'll just at least tell them, "I'm not doing great today. I'm working through it. But honestly, it's not a great day for me."
Natasha Jamal 34:18
So even leaders coming forward, even you as a coach sharing your story, having a little bit of that vulnerability, creating that trust to say, "OK, if I say this, it's OK. Right. This person also told me how they're feeling." So just thinking about that a little bit. I think we all love a day off. But wanting and needing it so badly that we can't wait for that day off signals that there might also be an issue in our workplace, right. We also want people to actually enjoy their time at work, so that those days off are great, and they're great for recharge, but they're not the only thing we look forward to.
Jim Collison 35:02
Natasha, I think, you know, sometimes when we talk about being vulnerable, being open, saying how we really feel, it's -- and it's not just with our, with our managers or those that, those leaders, but those folks that we're working with being open and willing to accept that or even not let it be an awkward situation. You know, you get, you've got four people in a meeting, and somebody all of a sudden kind of unloads on their, the terrible day they're having, and everybody just kind of looks at each other. "Well, you know, like, what do we do now?" What kind of advice, or how do we help cultures -- and not just the leadership of the cultures, but those in those meetings, right, the, those that they're working with -- how do we help them get to a point where those kinds of things are OK, and it doesn't create a really awkward moment?
Natasha Jamal 35:51
Yeah, and I mean, I think about like organizations that have sort of gotten ahead of this, right, like where they've created their own manifestos or charters or something out there, where they've set some norms of, How do we talk about mental health here? How do we talk about wellbeing so that you already have some norms to think about this. So I mean, one of the big pieces of advice I have is that if your organization doesn't already have some norms for this, how can you create some of those, right? So that we think that, first of all, hopefully, this is something people will talk about. But when they do, hopefully, that won't be a terrible experience, and they say, "Oh, my gosh, it was so, I did that and, you know, people are saying, 'Yes, you should bring your whole self to work,' and then I did that, and it was so awkward."
Natasha Jamal 36:39
So how do we actually create some norms and some shared expectations, right? That's, that's part of what culture is, right? It's a shared set of beliefs and values. And we might live those slightly differently, right? The manifestation might be slightly different, based on personality, based on strengths, based on all these things. But we know, for example, that excellence is a value and we're all driving towards excellence. I think similarly, for wellbeing, how do we think about wellbeing, so that we have some norms for those conversations -- that, you know, maybe, maybe we talk about it, or maybe we sit there and we listen, and we validate people's feelings. And, you know, we, we set up another time to talk or we talk one-on-one about those things, right. But creating some sort of norms, so that people feel like, OK, if someone brings it up, I have a way of reacting. It's not, it's never gonna be perfect, right? Because it's an emotional thing. And whenever people talk about emotions, it's not going to go in a perfectly linear way and get resolved. And getting resolved is not even the point, right?
Natasha Jamal 37:48
The point is that someone had the space to say that, and especially when I think about how this connects to diversity, equity and inclusion specifically, the diversity component is recognizing that we all have different emotional types of experiences; we all feel wellbeing differently. Inclusion is valuing those differences. And equity is about giving people the support they need, based on those different situations they have. So instead of just saying, "Oh, everyone needs the same thing," if, if, you know, they have a wellbeing concern, it's actually individualizing and saying, "Oh, well, this person is coming from this place. And this is the type of support I give," versus "this person is coming from a very different place." So not just having a blanket solution to answer those things, which is what makes it hard, right.
Natasha Jamal 38:41
So that's why I say like a manifesto or a charter or like some kinds of norms -- those are not all going to be implemented the exact same way in every conversation. And some of it is just being a human and being in that moment with the person and saying, "Thank you so much for sharing that. You know, I would love to talk more about this. I would love to hear more about this," and figuring it out from there, too, right? And we think about coaching -- a lot of the situations that come up are not all situations that you're going to be fully prepared for. But our biggest job is to listen to some of that, listen for the purpose of actually listening, not just responding; being there for people and just having a human conversation about it. And I think that's a lot of what it is for wellbeing as well: like having that human conversation, but sometimes a little bit of guidance around how we think about that can be super helpful.
Ryan Wolf 39:39
I love it. It's almost like, so, so brand managers and leaders and especially recruiters right now, it's a tough time. And so I hear and see a lot about all these great policies and perks and programs that are available to newcomers to organizations. They're just out there. So I feel you and hear you saying, maybe instead of that, maybe those are OK. Just don't overrely on them. And plus, also put out there in your social channels and everywhere on your website, your manifesto, your, your values and your, and, and how we do things here at work. Is that kind of what you're saying?
Natasha Jamal 40:20
Yeah, I think it's really important, when organizations communicate, to have wellbeing as part of that, right? To say that we actually care about this, and we're willing to say that publicly -- like we're not trying to hide that we care about this. I think there's sensitivity, right? Just like, a lot of times before 2020, I'd hear a lot of sensitivity even around diversity, equity and inclusion, like, "Oh, should we really put up something around that? What if we don't have the perfect language?" or something like that, right. But I think that it's really important to say what you're committed to; what you can expect from an organization. It's important for both the people that you're hiring into your organization, but it's also important for the people that are at your organization too. So when you think about the people that you want to bring in, and how those people are going to contribute to your culture. I think that's really important.
Natasha Jamal 41:18
It's something that we see especially with Gen Z and millennials, something that they really look for in organizations -- that sense of purpose and wellbeing just having such a prominent piece of that as well. But then even for your existing employees, saying, "You know, maybe we weren't explicit about this before, and maybe we didn't do a great job talking about this before. But this is part of where we want to go. Can you help us, right? Like can, how do we get there together? A lot of these things are realizing that we weren't necessarily where we needed to be at one point, and we want to get there." And I think just, you know, people say, "Oh, well, do we need to make it public? Or is it OK if we just do it internally?" I think ultimately, that's a decision every organization makes. And there may be reasons that you don't put it on your website, or whatever you want to do publicly.
Natasha Jamal 42:14
But I'd say one of the positives, one of the things with making it public is the accountability piece of it, right? Like it's there for everyone to see. It's not just something you say, but it's something you put in writing somewhere, so you can hold yourself accountable for it. And you've made it, you've made it public, right? Like you've, like, now we can actually say, OK, this is really -- so show -- and that messaging, right, showing people we really, we care enough to actually make a statement about this. It may not be a perfect statement; we're, we're improving, right. We're getting better at things. We might evolve, but we, we do care about this.
Moving the Needle on Employee Thriving: Managers
Ryan Wolf 42:56
Yeah, love it. Time to own up to it. So there's one more Risk of a Net Thriving Culture, and that's poorly skilled managers. Is there advice you can give to, to new managers or coaches of managers and people who want to become managers -- if there were an ideal framework of upskilling managers right now, what would it consist of?
Natasha Jamal 43:19
I think that, you know, first of all, I want to acknowledge that this is such a challenge, right? That a lot of times people become managers because they were really good at whatever job came before. Right? So I was really good at sales, and I became a sales manager. And now I realize that the job of a sales manager is, yes, to sell, but it's more to help other people sell. Right. And that's a slightly different skill. And I think that, you know, for managers, whether you feel really, really equipped to do the job, or you're struggling a little, one of the biggest things you can do is, is try to understand from your people, what is it that they really need from you? Right? What is the support that you're giving?
Natasha Jamal 44:04
A lot of your role as a manager is, you know, to help influence and support people to do things that maybe you did all of it before, right? So going from doing things really well on your own to empowering other people to do things. So when we think especially about wellbeing and when we think about the intersection of wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion, I think a lot of the tenets for those types of conversations are very similar.
Natasha Jamal 44:34
So I think the first thing -- and I've mentioned this before -- is you listen to understand instead of to respond. So I think that's the first thing, right? So when you're asking a question, a question, you're listening, and you're not thinking, "OK, how am, I what am I going to say next?" right, like we all do at times, right? Like, "What am I going to say next? How, how am I going to give an answer?" Or, "Oh, I didn't know they were going to say this. What am I -- ?" And, you know, in that process, we've sort of lost what the person's even saying. We may not even really fully hear what the person is saying. We're just thinking about our response, which is probably not going to be as great as if we actually just listened and processed.
Natasha Jamal 45:11
And maybe you don't have an answer. Or maybe you need to get back to the person. Or maybe you just need to say, "Wow, I hear you. That, that is really tough. And maybe I'd like to think about this a little more and have another conversation." Or "I'd like to talk to a few people about potential resources," or whatever, right? Don't feel like you always need an answer in the moment; I think it's something we're very wired to do -- to always have an answer. But you, you're not always going to have one to a really hard question. And that's probably, that's probably a good thing, if you don't have an answer right away sometimes. Another thing I'd say is, there's also a difference, right, between coaching and therapy. And so support where you can, and share resources where you can't.
Natasha Jamal 45:55
There are going to be some things where you can, where what people need from you is validation of what they're feeling; some support that, you know, someone is there to look out for you. But often what people need is just an understanding that, you know, there are other resources as well -- that this may not be something that you can really help with. So what are some resources that you can point to? But saying that your problem or your challenge is a real thing; it's a real experience; it's valid. And it's, it's welcomed here. And here are some things that that may help you. And that may be me, and that may not be me. So, you know, coming from both of those places.
Natasha Jamal 46:34
And I think the final thing I would say is just creating an environment where people feel like they can actually share what they want to share honestly. Because I think it's one thing to ask a question; but it's another thing to actually, for people to feel like they can answer it honestly. And when I think about the stigma, especially around a lot of wellbeing components, but especially around mental health, people are working, you're working against history here, right? You're working against a lot of things here where people have had real experiences or seen other people go through things where they're like, "I can't say that at work. I just, I can't say that at work." So understand that, right? Have some patience that like everyone's not going to be as willing to share.
Natasha Jamal 47:20
We also saw, like, generationally, by gender, by race, like things might be different in terms of sharing your experience. But just really working to create that environment where someone actually can be honest, to whatever degree they're comfortable, about what they're feeling, so that if they're feeling terrible, they're not gonna say, "Oh, I'm doing great." Because, you know, if that's the answer that everyone's gonna give; if that's the thing that they think you expect, you're not really going to be able to help anyone anyway, because they're not being honest about what they need from you. So I think that creating that environment, which sometimes does involve vulnerability, to some extent, of even saying, "Here's how I'm feeling," right, is really important.
A Place for Leaders, Organizations to Start
Ryan Wolf 48:03
Yeah, these are, these are really good pieces of advice. So we appreciate that. This has been a really good conversation, Natasha. Anything else about what you're seeing people and organizations get right or get wrong with DEI?
Natasha Jamal 48:19
Yeah, and, you know, I've been sort of looking at the chat too, and really great comments here. And, you know, some of you have asked, you know, How, how do you do this? Right. So the "How" is always the hardest part, but I'll just give a few simple things that I've seen some organizations do, right? So to create an environment where people can be honest, a lot of that happens through the role modeling. So it's hard to be the first, right? It's hard to be the first person to say, "OK, I'm going to share my story of how I'm struggling with something." So if, whenever you're in a position to be that person -- in a safe space, right, sometimes one-on-one with someone, to say, "Hey, I can share a little bit" (if I have something to share), right. So to open up some of those conversations and to be that first person to say that.
Natasha Jamal 49:15
I think another thing I've seen is just leaders of organizations coming out and doing that. Leaders, you know, sometimes leaders have some of that safety, right? They're, they're a leader in the organization; they've made it there already. How can you use that leadership for good? So if you're a person that is a leader or works with leaders or influences leaders, how can you encourage them to either share their own story or to share that that's an OK thing to do? And then I really think a lot of it just happens through day-to-day interactions. It's a lot of reinforcement. Like anything that's changing in an organization, it's about overcommunicating that those things are OK. It's about sharing examples, when that's OK. It's about posting about it on public forums, right, when, when someone feels comfortable.
Natasha Jamal 50:02
You may or may not be able to do all of these things at once, right? Some, some people are like, We're not going to post about that on LinkedIn. But we're going to share this really intimately in, you know, a small, trusting setting. But I think the big thing is, it has to start somewhere. So who's going to start it? And when I think about the people here, I think some of us can start it, right. Some of us can be those first people who say, "OK, should I start to write the manifesto and get some other people involved in that and test that out"? Right? These things are sort of grassroots when they start in an organization. Am I someone who talks to leaders or influences leaders? Can I get a leader on board with this, a leader to kick off this first session? You know, am I someone who influences manager training? Managers might be the people who talk to people most often, to give them some conversation guides or a question they can ask at the beginning of each meeting.
Natasha Jamal 51:04
So it's some of those, you know, sort of simple actions of, when you think about the big touchpoints that people have with employees. But it all comes down to that communication, right. So it could be one-on-one communication; it can be town-hall communication; it can be a reinforcement or a coaching type of conversation. But it is usually a communication touchpoint that makes it, that makes it real and tangible. And you know, when we think about the intersection with diversity, equity and inclusion, it's also looking at your data, right, by all the different types of groups that you might have and how people might be experiencing things differently. You might get some clues even on, if you're, if you're asking questions about wellbeing or related to wellbeing, how do different groups actually experience that? Are there differences? Is everyone struggling with the same things? Or are there differences by groups? What are the things that we have in common? And how do those relate to other things in the organization?
Natasha Jamal 52:07
Because wellbeing is never going to just sit alone in an organization; it's always going to be influenced by how people are experiencing work, how comfortable they feel, how respected they feel. So all of those other influences. So I think your, the data that you collect can give you clues. But I think, you know, as a coach, it's also like talking to people can give you a lot of clues. I know, Jim, you mentioned you open up conversations with just a few questions, right, on wellbeing. And you will be surprised how much people want to share if they're given an opportunity, especially in a one-on-one type of conversation. It's not always something people want to do in front of a group. So think about the setting as well.
Natasha Jamal 52:54
So sometimes, you know, a really sensitive type of conversation or something that might be a little more private to an individual -- start one-on-one. That might be a good place to start. And then eventually, you know, people might feel more comfortable sharing in groups, or some people might feel comfortable. But it's, it's starting that conversation, I think.
Jim Collison 53:13
You're so right, in the, in the context of one-on-one. I noticed, during the pandemic, I was doing a lot more one-on-one communication than I'd ever done before. And before, I was going into meetings with seven or eight or nine people, and that never happens, right? But we started getting this, you know, I started getting in a mode where if I just needed to talk somebody, well, it's gonna, it's gonna be one-on-one or nothing. You know, in the office, you wouldn't even have some of those conversations in public, right? Because it's, it's not appropriate for the, for the hallway, or whatever, right? Or they didn't feel comfortable saying it that way. I think we actually got an advantage during the pandemic for these one-on-one, very private conversations. And I began with the team that I was working with. I began to spend a lot of time with them just one-on-one.
Jim Collison 54:02
Now you're saying this, and it's starting to click in my head, it's like, Oh, that's what was happening. Like, I was like, Wow, why were my, why were the relationships getting so much deeper? Why were we having these wellbeing conversations about how they're doing and what they're doing and how that's playing out and how are they feeling about things? Now, it's all starting to click. Oh, actually, the pandemic forced these one-on-one private conversations where that was allowed. It was allowed because I was open to it. Right? I was open to having those conversations, sometimes taking 15 or 20 minutes, especially early in the pandemic, to say, "All right, how's it -- you're home. How's it really going? Like, let's, let's talk about this a little bit, and what can I do to help you get there?" So I think there's, again, just until we were talking about it, I don't think I would have put those pieces together. The pandemic actually helped me be better at that, not, not hindered it in a lot of ways. Ryan, I'll throw it back to you.
Ryan Wolf 54:58
Yeah, I appreciate that, Jim. And Natasha, there were a lot of great light bulbs and just ideas and resources and strategies that you shared here today. So we appreciate that a lot. Is there a place you'd recommend for us to follow you or get to, get to, you know, after, after our meeting here closes today? Where can we follow you and find your best work?
Natasha Jamal 55:21
Yeah, well, you know, you can follow me on LinkedIn: Natasha Jamal, and I usually just post articles and other things there or like other people's work. So, you know, you can really create more of a community around this. And then, you know, I've written a few articles for gallup.com. So if you just search there, my name, you can find a lot of those. And then, you know, definitely beyond me, definitely follow the Gallup Center on Black Voices. And you can see, you know, the, the work that we're doing there. So lots of different resources for you all, and lots of places to start. And, you know, just kind of beyond even the workplace, I know these are conversations that are going on in people's families; these are conversations that are going on in professional networks in your communities. I think a lot of the principles that we use for the workplace can also be applied outside.
Natasha Jamal 56:14
So start small, right, but start. So start talking one-on-one to people. Encourage small groups to share stories. Role model some of those things yourself, you know, even with -- you think about, like with kids, with family members. Just start having those types of conversations. It might be a little different than the conversations we're used to having, but I think start small, but definitely start with something.
Ryan Wolf 56:45
Great advice. Jim, you can wrap us up. Thanks.
Jim Collison 56:47
Yeah, you know, for coaches, I'd encourage you, if you're not doing this with your coaching community -- in other words, if you don't have a couple coaches around you that you're meeting with on a regular basis -- you, one, you should. And then two, you should be practicing this with them. Right. This is one of those things that I think, Natasha, for me, it took seeing it modeled from someone else. I was the uncomfortable guy in the room when someone would start sharing, you know, what I would consider too much. And I'd be like, "I'm uncomfortable now," of really being able to kind of lean into that a little bit more and listening, listening for those things. No. Now I actually want to listen to these, what's being said, because there's clues to talent in what they're sharing also, right? I mean, there's clues to what's going on. Some of my best partners have been those who have been the most open. Right? And I just appreciate that.
Natasha Jamal 57:39
And Jim, can I just add one more thing about discomfort? If you feel some discomfort, or something's uncomfortable, you're probably doing it right, right. Because every time we're growing and stretching and doing something that's hard or different, there is a little bit of discomfort. So that's OK. All right. We don't, we don't want that to be the only thing you're feeling. But it is OK if there's a little bit of that. These things are hard. So lean into that discomfort a little too.
Jim Collison 58:09
Yeah. And maybe OK to say, you know, "I've never been anything -- I've never been through anything like this before," to the person that you're talking to -- being honest. "You know, I'm hearing, I'm hearing you. I've never gone through this. I, let's, you know, let's figure this out together." And, and I think there's some great opportunities there, both with employees, those that we're working with, and then those that are, we are either leading or being led by -- I think there's some great opportunities there. Natasha, thank you for saying "Yes" to this. This has been a real treat to have you with us today and appreciate your insight. There's a lot here. I'd recommend you go back to the beginning and listen to it again. Because there's just a wealth of information here. So Natasha, thanks for joining us.
Natasha Jamal 58:51
Thank you all.
Jim Collison 58:52
With that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available. Natasha mentioned gallup.com, and I think this is, maybe for our coaching community, the most underutilized platform that we have for you. Lots of great articles. We have The Gallup Podcast. We've got a lot of great podcasts for you as well -- Cultural Competence, that's out there; it was mentioned earlier. We got a lot of great stuff for you; just go to gallup.com and search. There's -- you can find a lot of the stuff we talked about today. For coaching, master coaching or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, send us an email: email@example.com. We will get that right to somebody who can help you with it. If you want to follow future webcasts -- and Ryan and I have Part 4 with Danny Lee and Part 5 with Jaclynn Robinson still to come, and I think some great stuff ahead -- you can follow us out at gallup.eventbrite.com. If you found this useful, and I would think you all have found this useful, we'd ask you that you'd share it -- jump out there on LinkedIn. Not today on Facebook, because Facebook is down today. But get out there, share it on social. We appreciate that. If you're joining us live, we want to thank you for joining us today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.
Ryan Wolf's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Discipline, Achiever, Futuristic, Activator and Harmony.
Natasha Jamal's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Futuristic, Learner, Input and Strategic.
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