One of the first things that really shook me, in more ways than one, was to find myself in the devastating earthquake in Mexico City in 1985. I had always assumed that the ground beneath my feet was solid and would always be so; to walk on, to build on, on which to lay out a rug and have a picnic. I learnt that it wasn’t.
Earlier this week there was a small earth tremor in Mexico City. The floor shook and the air moved with a distant thump. I felt as if I had been pushed from behind. My first instinct was to wake everyone else up, and for all of us to run out of the house to safety. But, of course, it doesn’t work like that.
This time, however, we didn’t need to run to safety. It was just a short, sharp shake. But my feeling of anxiety after the tremor was greater than it normally is. Perhaps because, as well as the possibility of the earth moving beneath our feet, there is also the invisible but real threat of accidentally breathing in those contagious viral droplets that might be floating around in the air.
Tectonic plates as a metaphor for shifting dynamics in organizational wellbeing
Coincidentally, last week at iOpener, we had been using the metaphor of tectonic plates. We’d been describing the dynamics of constantly shifting factors in team and organizational happiness that show up in our iPPQ data.
The tremor in Mexico had me thinking about the seismic movements we’re currently experiencing in organizations all over again.
Extracting insights from iPPQ data
We have been (and still are) offering our individual iPPQ survey on workplace wellbeing and resilience for free. If you haven’t yet taken the survey and would like to receive your individualized report, please do register here. https://iopenerinstitute.typeform.com/to/aQUPqP
Not only does it give you useful pointers (self-coaching questions) about what you can do to improve your wellbeing at work, but it also helps us to understand the dynamics of the performance-happiness connection that feed our insights and make our organizational and leadership development programs more relevant.
Our iPPQ data collected globally during the pandemic months of April and May 2020 tells us that respondents are feeling that they have more of a voice, they are more listened to, they’re more able to raise issues that are important to them and they feel more respected by their boss. They also feel a greater sense of control over their daily activities, are receiving and giving more support, and are managing stress at work quite well. They are getting more recognition for the work they do and using strengths and skills more.
But, they are experiencing difficulty achieving goals, feeling less efficient and more insecure in their jobs and would be less likely to recommend their organization to a friend. Although they say they have more trust in the vision of their leaders, their trust in the organization itself is wavering.
That’s what the data tells us. However, the metaphor of the tectonic plates is wider reaching. Although the idea of constant movement is nothing new, it is definitely more noticeable and accelerated now. Rapid seismic shifts are felt more acutely of course. The search is on to find the magic glue that can flex with the movement of the individual plates, prevent major earthquakes in the workplace and sustain individual resilience and wellbeing.
Needing the glue that is the human element
The field of Positive Psychology has many suggestions around what that glue might be made of. The first, most obvious that comes to mind is the human element. Especially while we are social-distancing, even more work needs to go into looking after others as well as creating and maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and wider social circles. When the plates shift, these are the behaviors that demonstrate inner-leadership as well as what we need from our leaders. We have to attend to what really matters, and do our best to keep those close to us safe; as was the case during the earth tremor for me. First and foremost, make sure that those around us are OK.
There is a possibly apocryphal anecdote about Albert Einstein who, when a student once asked, “Aren’t these the same questions as last year’s [physics] final exam?”, answered “Yes but, this year, the answers are different.”
The tectonic plates are shifting. Now is the time to have those crucial conversations about what really matters; connecting the dots between how we behave in our human interactions, how we run organizations, how we do business and how we are impacting the world in which we live.
by Oriana Tickell
Director for the Science of Happiness at Work & for Executive Coaching at iOpener Institute
To register for your individual iPPQ report, free of charge, please go here: https://iopenerinstitute.typeform.com/to/aQUPqP
For more information on running a team or organizational iPPQ project, please contact Oriana.Tickell@iOpener.com
For more information on our leadership team program:
“Growing Organizational Wellbeing & Resilience;
Optimizing people and performance potential by leading with the Science of Happiness at Work”
please contact Oriana Tickell Oriana.Tickell@iOpener.com or Katie Demain Katie.Demain@iOpener.com