PSFK Labs interviews Brad Lande, of Live In The Grey, to learn the how-tos of engaging and empowering a workforce
When organizations focus strictly on the numbers and sales of their business, it becomes a challenge to create an authentic workplace culture that empowers employees and inspires loyalty. However, findings from our new Future of Work report have proven that creating and sustaining a healthy work culture results in attracting and retaining the best talent, which in turn creates the highest-quality work.
PSFK Labs sits down with Brad Lande, CEO of Live In The Grey, a company that analyzes a company’s culture and recommends how to create an environment that professionally and personally develops employees. In the interview, Lande discusses the importance of prioritizing employees in the workplace and the necessary steps that an organization can take to cultivate a thriving work culture.PSFK: Can you tell us about your company, Live In The Grey?
Brad Lande: Ultimately, we create authentic work places. We believe if people can be more authentic at work, it inspires loyalty. It inspires them to show up more fully which creates not only a better work environment, but better results for the company.
I’d like to highlight three things related to our definition of Live in the Grey. These three things are what we discovered in our research on the future of work, and what the future of work wants out of the workplace.
One is a deeper connection with the people we work with. We want to know intimately who people are–what they care about beyond their job title. Secondly, they want an opportunity to be fulfilled by their work, so it’s no longer just a paycheck, but it’s something that fulfills them. Thirdly, they want to be reminded regularly about the purpose of the organization. What impact is it having on its customers or the world? They want a workplace that embraces their own purpose. It’s one that often companies ignore or don’t address, or they think that individuals are meant to address that on their own time, and it’s not their responsibility.
Live in the Grey operates at the intersection of personal and professional development, and is designed to help organizations provide a platform and a container for people to grow personally and professionally. When they do that, they will be able to produce the kind of results that they need to in order to grow and sustain, and continue to innovate in this current environment.
You mention the idea of work/life balance versus work/life blend. What does that mean from both an individual employee standpoint as well as from an employer standpoint?
To an employee, it means not having to check a part of themselves at the door when they come to work everyday and having a way to share and continue to communicate their own personal values, even as those things change and shift over time.
The employer is working diligently with the set of employees to understand what those things are and that they’re changing from time to time.
It’s not some static thing where you have a health and wellness program, then you check it off the list. You need to continue to come back, listen and exchange the benefits and the things that you offer your employees. The employer needs to be committed to what we call the emotional culture of the organization.
I think the first step for an employer is to understand what their emotional culture is and, then they can work to cultivating it in a way that is thoughtful, methodical and pertinent, rather than rely on what naturally emerges.
How does this play in at a small company as opposed to a larger one?
Interestingly enough, the process to understand it and to shape it is almost identical. The only difference, really, is the number of sessions and the number of people that you need to engage with. But we use the same methodology and I would say the same process of analysis to arrive at a solution.
First of all, giving time to employees and providing a resource for them to really reflect on their own lives and choose the things that are most important to them. Then to share those things with the people on their team or that they work with.
What you’re doing in that process is really listening. You’re listening and you’re allowing people to connect in a more authentic way. People start to share things that they might not normally share. I think that part of just understanding the emotional culture is understanding what your employees really care about.
We capture all information about the values that employees chose and do some analysis.We group those values into five categories, or words that are highly related that indicate something about that group of people, and come back to the team s with insights and recommendations that are actionable around their culture.It might be that values like mindfulness, meditation and spirituality. What are the things that they can offer that are related to that?
It’s no different whether it’s 15 to 20 people or it’s thousands of people. We’re just dealing with more data and ultimately the insights and recommendations we’d make are based on the size, the scale and appetite of the organization to really build culture in the way that most works for them.
What do companies get wrong when they approach the work/life balance or when they embark on understanding the emotional culture of their employees?
Rather than letting culture just emerge, we work with people at understanding what it is today, and then the energy and the effort to really define how you want it going forward.
How do you want people to feel about the organization? What kind of emotional relationship do you want people to have? You don’t want an environment that embraces emotions like anger, frustration and disagreement so it is about being very selective, thoughtful and methodical about the kind of place you want to create.
Trying to find ways to define that builds a more cognitive culture. The more common terms that should be on walls like, “We’re risk takers, we’re innovators.” To really go beneath that and look at what the emotional status of the organization that you want to ideally create for people. I think that effort, and the time to think about that, specifically, and name it, is often missed in the process.
Any concluding thoughts?
I think for organizations of the future to stay relevant and to continue to innovate and break the paradigms they need to break and take risks.Leaders really need to consider how they can be more innovative in the learning and development opportunity they provide to their employees. At Live in Grey, really believe it’s not only critical to the success of the organization, but critical to the success of creating an engaged workforce. I think that’s the main thing I’d like to leave you with.
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