Culture First

Crafted by Culture Amp

Part 2

The only way forward is through

Fig 1. Finding strength through empathy

Overcoming denial with stabilizing leadership

Now that we’ve found some grounding and stability ourselves, we have the opportunity to check in with those around us. And when we do, we’ll likely notice that while some are faring well because they’re genuinely resilient and adaptive, others are still in denial. For this stage of our journey, we’ll look at how we can help these people – and at how strong, confident and empathetic leadership can help everyone confront adversity in an optimistic and productive way.

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Culture First podcast by Culture Amp

  • 01

    Episode 3: Larissa Conte

    The false codes of leadership to deconstruct in turbulent times

    In this episode, Damon Klotz speaks with Larissa Conte, Founder of Wayfinding. Together they explore what this changing environment can teach us about leading, how to manage our egos when budgets and hard decisions are at play, and ideas for areas where leaders are struggling the most right now.

  • 02

    Episode 4: Chris Fussell

    Keeping momentum while leading through crisis

    In this episode, Damon Klotz speaks with Chris Fussell, President of McChrystal Group. Chris shares an optimistic framework for leading through periods of change. Together, Damon and Chris explore strategies to turn fear into action, lead with vulnerability, and keep the momentum that drives us forward.

Culture First podcast by Culture Amp

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The long reads

Original content

01

Culture amp | 7 min read

Heather’s story: Leading through crisis with vulnerability

Beth comstock portrait

In a time where personal and professional worlds have collided, people around the world are grappling with separation from loved ones, dependent care, grief, self care, and more, all while trying to deliver in their roles the same way they were before the crisis. This is challenging for everyone, but leaders face these same difficulties while also leading their people through the storm.

We spoke with Heather Walls, Chief Creative Officer, Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation to learn how she is balancing her leadership responsibilities with personal demands.

 

Facing separation from family during crisis

Last summer, Heather’s parents moved out of their home into an assisted living facility. Her mother has late stage Alzheimer’s, and as the disease worsened, she relocated to a memory care unit, separating her from her husband. On one hand, it was reassuring to know that her mother was receiving the care she needed, but it also meant that her parents didn’t live together for the first time in over 40 years.

Living in another state – about a two hour plane ride away – Heather could easily visit them regularly. However, when COVID-19 hit, she was no longer able to visit her parents, and even her father was not allowed to visit her mother in the other building.

“I just didn't know what to do,” says Heather. “I wasn’t sure if I should storm the gates of the facility and make them let me see my parents, or stay away to protect them. I knew it would be irresponsible to travel and risk spreading the virus, but I didn’t know how to be a good daughter in this case. I obviously still don't have an answer and that weighs heavily on me.”

Heather called the facility to see what they could do and was thrilled to find that they were doing everything in their power to help connect residents with their family members.

“The hospice nurse called me herself and offered to check in regularly. One of the nurses would use her own phone to do a video call with my mom and I so I could see her. I was blown away by how above and beyond they were going to connect me with my mom.”

Making time for self-care while leading others

While navigating her newfound separation from her family, Heather was also working with her leadership team at the Wikimedia Foundation to determine the best way to respond to the growing crisis. After closing the office and moving all employees to remote work, they started thinking about ways to help reduce the new stressors each employee now faced.

“We wanted to be really clear about telling people they can take time for themselves, but just telling them to take care of themselves was a little too vague and we wanted to be really specific in order for people to understand the boundaries.”

Under the circumstances, Wikimedia decided to tell employees that they were only expected to work half time - 20 hours a week.

“We didn’t want anyone to think they were going to get in trouble, for taking time for themselves. It’s not something I would have asked for myself, but it’s definitely something I wanted to give to my team.”

Heather recognized that if she wanted to truly encourage her team to prioritize their wellbeing, she had to lead by example.

“Taking time is not my strong suit. Sometimes I try to push through it, or go to an important meeting anyway, but after the fact I find that it would have been better to take a step back or postpone the meeting.

In general, I’ve tried to reduce the meetings that I agree to attend if I don’t need to be there, which also shows trust in those who do go to the meeting. Doing this helps me carve out more space for myself when I do need to step back.”

For nearly a decade, Heather has made time for mindfulness by attending silent retreats. Like many others, Heather has found herself struggling to adapt her normal self care routines to this new environment. Though she can no longer attend retreats in person, she uses her meditation practice to help her through periods of overwhelm, finding a quiet place to sit in contemplative silence.

“Overwhelm is a moment, even an invitation, to reconsider priorities and put things down that aren’t going to matter in a year. Then I have to be accountable to those decisions, telling people what I decided and how it will affect them.”

Heather has also found relief in a new companion, a great dane puppy (now over 60 pounds at four months old), who she adopted about a week before the shelter in place mandate.

“I’ve found that a lot of people are offering resources for people to connect online. The place I go for my silent retreats has sent out videos that we can watch for free. Experts in puppy training are offering free training online - I’ve never had a puppy before, so that's a big deal. It’s amazing to see organizations offering free resources to help people through this difficult time.”

Creating space for vulnerability at work

As people around the world grapple with tidal waves of emotions, teams are turning to their organization’s leaders for clarity about how to navigate our uncertain future and permission to be more vulnerable and human in their work environment.

Heather found support with other leaders in an advanced leadership training program with Larissa Conte of Wayfinding that she had joined just as the pandemic began. The program brings an intimate cohort of leaders together to deepen their understanding of power in organizations and identify the inner work required to transform our outer work.

Within her leadership group, vulnerability is not just welcomed, it is practiced and celebrated. Heather felt encouraged to share the difficulties she was having in her personal life with the group.

“I’ve found that other people’s stories have helped me identify a healthy line between professionalism and vulnerability. At first, I felt like being vulnerable is not how you should act at work, but I wondered what I was supposed to do if I needed to take off suddenly to be with my family.

Keeping everything to myself didn’t seem like the kind of relationship I wanted to have with my team. That’s why I ultimately decided to share my story.

It’s my job to do some things first. I need to create the space for people to open up and be an example. I may not always do a good job, but I see it as my job whether I do well or not.”

Looking to the future

So much time has been spent adapting to this new norm, but it’s time to start thinking of practices that we can take with us once things begin to normalize.

Like many companies, Heather’s team has become increasingly global over the past year, across continents and time zones. As her team grew and became more specialized, Heather proactively found ways to celebrate wins, bringing the department together for casual video chats, and reinforcing the importance of personal connections. This initiative unexpectedly laid a strong foundation for when the team became fully remote, creating a safe space within the team to share personal challenges and be vulnerable while quarantined at home.

“Growing our team globally has already created this framework for a remote-first workforce.”

“Our entire organization has been trying to build teams that reflect more of the world. Wikimedia projects are inclusive of all people with varying skills, coming together to create solutions, and we want our workforce to reflect this. Growing our team globally has already created this framework for a remote-first workforce.”

Heather’s team has introduced a practice of making time to regularly check in with one another. This simple act invites employees to share a glimpse at their personal challenges, and builds connections that make it easier to work as a team.

Working through it

As we navigate the new challenges and expectations brought on by the crisis, some days it might feel like a big accomplishment to simply get out of bed in the morning. Keep in mind that there's a big difference between working through it and pushing through it.

Most of us have pulled all-nighters or worked ridiculous hours for the sake of progress. As a leader – especially now – it’s crucial to set boundaries for yourself, recognize when you need to take a step back, and encourage your team to do the same. The only way through is to work together.

Do you have a story to share or know someone who does? Contact workingthroughit@cultureamp.com.

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02

NOBL | 4 min read

How to keep your cool when work gets heated

Especially in high-pressure environments, even seemingly innocuous statements can set people off. Use these self-management techniques to regulate your response.

Our uncertain and anxious times demand emotionally reliable leaders. Committed to understanding their own minds and behaviors, they’re able to separate their own emotions from the situation and manage their reactions appropriately, even when things get personal and heated.

 

We all have our emotional hot buttons; things that throw us off balance and cause immediate, often significant reactions. Maybe it’s when someone interrupts you, is late for the meeting again, or sends you a late-night email with the expectation of a speedy response. We know from experience these are not our best leadership moments – we lose empathy for others and struggle to make decisions – and yet, we find ourselves here time and time again.

It helps to understand why we – and we really mean all of us – react this way. The good news is you’re not “just over-reacting.” Our capacity to think clearly and act wisely is seriously impaired when the forebrain – our rational, adult mind – is hijacked by our limbic system. The amygdala, a part of the limbic system that registers threat and generates fear, evokes immediate physiological responses such as increased heart rate and more blood flow to the muscles. All of this happens almost instantly, long before our cortex can access more sensory information and determine whether or not the threat is “real.”

In terms of threat level, most of the time, we are not about to become someone’s lunch. The real threat is actually inside us (“the call is coming from inside the house!”). The amygdala is not only responsible for our fight/flight/freeze response, it also stores and surfaces the personal memories and stories associated with emotional events of our past, making the same incident unremarkable to one person and inflammatory to another.

Picture this: a manager at work uses a disrespectful tone when delivering feedback to their junior reports. Overhearing this exchange, you’re incensed. The less self-aware you charges back to your desk, furious on behalf of the team, and starts an email to the leader berating their management style. The junior reports, meanwhile, have already moved on. They heard direct and focused feedback. With personal reflection and greater self-awareness, you uncover that one of the norms in your childhood home was to respect authority, but to also demand it in return. You’re able to see that this scenario has caused outsized reactions, or “triggering,” in both your personal and professional realms for many years since.

Left unattended, these reactions become the norm, and our resilience begins to dwindle, fast. Which, at its worst, creates a continuous loop of cortisol and a fast track to burn out, and at best, closes us to new opportunities and personal growth.

So what can leaders do to build self-management skills and support their resilience over the long-haul?

“It starts with self-awareness: personal knowledge and insight that becomes that much more critical as we advance in our career.”

It starts with self-awareness: personal knowledge and insight that becomes that much more critical as we advance in our career, and our behavior sets the bar for others to follow (for better or for worse). Tools like User Manuals can present a first step to understanding ourselves better. It’s also important to become aware of when we are not at our best: the steady and present state from which we can lead most effectively.

Next, self-management. How can you regain control the next time you find yourself blowing up? We find inspiration in the work and mastery of Robert Gass, and his four steps to managing our emotional triggers.

  • Name it. Recognize the physical and emotional signs (clenching your jaw, hands in fists, tightening throat or increased heart rate), and that you’re triggered in some way.

  • Take space. Give yourself the time and space to reset – this is a perfect time to mention you need ”to check in with the team,” or “time to think”. Remember, this is not an excuse to avoid the situation. You are creating the space you need to manage your emotions and create greater objectivity to act from a place of clarity.

  • Shift your emotional state. Establish rituals that help you return to a more centered and less emotional state. These can be as simple as a few deep breaths or taking a walk around the block. Practicing mindfulness, such as meditation, can also help.

  • Deal with it. Finally, return to the problem when you’re in a better state of mind. With greater calm, you’ve created more choices to get clear on your goals and plan your response.

This article originally appeared on NOBL.

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03

Culture amp | 6 min read

Straddling transparency and professionalism: How honest is too honest

Leaders at all levels are trying to find the balance between healthy transparency and oversharing.

Whether it’s hard decisions that affect the team, or simply a personal challenge that is impacting your day-to-day, these unprecedented circumstances call for a new set of guidelines around how much leaders should share with their teams.

Below we explore the ambiguous boundary between how much should and should not be shared with your team.

 

Balancing personal vs professional

Now that we’ve had some time to adjust to a new way of working, we find ourselves in various stages of acceptance and affliction. By now, many organizations have undergone initial shock and reaction, but questions loom large about how long this will last and what the future holds.

Before the pandemic, many of us felt we had to carry personal burdens alone and keep them private from our teams. Given the widespread impact of crisis, there is a sense of shared struggle, and our personal lives are bleeding into the professional world.

In periods of intense change, it’s not necessary or sustainable to shy away from the challenges your team is facing. We all need to feel cared for holistically to feel supported and motivated at work.

Whether you have already shared your personal struggles, or are trying to find better ways to support your team, now is the time to lead with vulnerability. “Your openness gives others permission to share,” says Laura Gale, Coach, Facilitator and Coach for ThinkHuman. “Responsibly sharing what you feel (without putting it on the team to hold) makes space for others to express worries, uncertainty, hopes, challenges, and ideas and allows for safety, connection, and innovation.”

“Your openness gives others permission to share.”

Laura Gale

Facilitator and Coach for ThinkHuman

Encourage your team to share their experiences, but keep in mind that this will be harder for some individuals. Existing workplace power dynamics mean it’s up to managers to pave the way. When leaders share their own vulnerability, it opens the door to the entire team. While you likely won’t share every detail of your personal ups and downs, sharing parts of your own struggle opens the door for teammates to do the same.

Creating a safe space

“If you don’t invest in delivering on your culture, then it means nothing,” says Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp. “And I can guarantee you that the companies that will be standing on the other side, their culture is the reason why. Their culture is the thing that will make them successful during this time,”

Traditionally, work hasn’t been seen as an appropriate space to discuss personal challenges or show vulnerability. So much about the professional world is about how you present yourself, whether that’s through how you dress, the contents of your resumé, or the small talk you make. Over the years, organizations have slowly invited their teams to bring their whole selves to work, but individuals still tend to keep their very personal lives to themselves.

With the sudden shift to crisis management, people are forced to balance work, childcare, grief, physical illness, and more. As a result, the boundaries between the personal and professional worlds naturally starts to blur. During challenging times leaders should be empowered and encouraged to create safe spaces to talk through personal challenges with their teams. “Your role as a leader is to set the emotional weather for your team,” says Meredith Haberfeld, Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman. “That requires being real and responsible for your energetic wake (how you leave people feeling).”

People won’t feel comfortable being vulnerable unless they see their leaders do the same. Lead by example and create a safe space for your employees to share their burden with the team. Make sure this is done without any expectation of fixing other people’s problems, but highlight that you’re also struggling and can empathize with them and cheer them on.

Aubrey Blanche, Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp, shares her personal approach to leading with vulnerability: “as a leader, you need to make it clear that you’re not asking for help from your direct reports. Instead, you can frame it as ‘here's the struggle I am having as a human being.”

“As a leader, you need to make it clear that you’re not asking for help from your direct reports. Instead, you can frame it as ‘here's the struggle I am having as a human being.”

Aubrey Blanche

Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp

This shows your team that if they’re struggling, you understand what that feels like. A lot of the work here is normalizing individual struggling. Simply creating space for peers to share what they’re working through and cheering them on goes a long way.”

Leading through uncertainty

“As a leader, when you sit down and question, ‘what do I have to do?’ the most important thing in a crisis is communication. Our people don’t need us to be heroes, but they need us to show up,” says Didier.

Whether your organization has experienced layoffs, is considering structural changes, or seems to be in the clear, people around the world are feeling unsettled and uncertain. As nations hurry to find a solution, there are constant periods of ebb and flow. Things will get better and worse in waves, and it’s important to keep this in mind when managing a team. Not everyone will experience the same challenges at the same time, and the future could impact different individuals in very different ways.

It’s hard to know exactly what the future will look like and what kind of challenges might present themselves. As a leader, now is the time to truly be human with your team. Stay attuned to the fears and uncertainties of different individuals – don’t shy away from difficult conversations.

“We naturally want to ease the burden for team members,” says James Rosseau Sr., Executive Coach at ThinkHuman, “but people are often stronger than we give them credit for and ultimately appreciate you respecting their need for information.” You may not have the answers or even the ability to assuage fears, but you can make your team feel heard and supported.

“You may not have the answers or even the ability to assuage fears, but you can make your team feel heard and supported.”

Leading with vulnerability requires humanity and empathy. Even if there’s nothing you can do to “fix” the situation, just knowing that someone is empathizing with their struggles and cheering them on can go a long way in building support systems in a professional setting.

Let empathy be your guide

The decisions that organizations now face every day are tougher and more ambiguous than ever before. Leading with empathy and vulnerability is the only way to avoid alienating your team and, subsequently, putting the performance of your business at risk. Now is the time to dust off your soft skills and make this your primary management approach. People have to feel safe to share their challenges, so emotional intelligence is key to helping your team feel supported by you and the organization. There’s no exact science to balancing transparency with professionalism, but letting empathy be your guiding principle will allow you to build trust and better support your team.

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04

ThinkHuman | 6 min read

Illuminating a path forward by turning inward

Everyone, regardless of title or authority, is a leader who can influence others and the world. To do so starts with people intentionally examining all parts of themselves and their unique worldly experience to understand how to better lead people around them. The ability and willingness of a leader to fully examine themselves and their impact determines whether or not their team will emerge from a crisis stronger than how they went in. Leading others starts with the courage to lead yourself first.

 

At the emergence of COVID-19, our founder and CEO Meredith Haberfeld, was personally impacted by the unfolding crisis. As ironic as it may seem, being a leadership and human development expert does not make people infallible from leadership breakdowns and insights. After all, even experts are humans first.

“My first reaction to this crisis was to instinctively think of the needs of my team, my community and my family.”

Meredith Haberfield

Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman

With the intention to alleviate the pressure on others created by uncertainty and fear, Meredith detached from her own needs and tried to absorb the pressure of the team. With the ultimate intention to ensure her team and community were shielded, she failed to take care of herself.

As an unintended result of Meredith’s blindspot, ThinkHuman team members felt pulled in different directions, made decisions without taking time to think things through, and even experienced a conflict on a call due to collective rising stress levels. Two people on the team gave Meredith feedback about her impact, prompting her to reflect on how she was taking care of herself.

“I joined a regular peer call with a group of other CEOs and shared how pulled I was feeling. When I shared that experience with the rest of the group, four out of the five other CEO’s were having the same experience,” says Meredith.

Meredith had an insight: she had been focussed on paring down the goals of others but had instead taken them on herself. Once she saw this reflected in other CEO’s, she saw it in herself and decided to deprioritize the goals of others. Shortly after, the ThinkHuman team experienced a restored sense of groundedness and focus. By checking in on her own needs first she was able to lead others. Meredith engaged in a process known as “leading self.”

What is “leading self”?

Leading self is the utilization of yourself as an instrument to inspire change in those around you. It starts with an honest exploration of all parts of yourself that influence how you show up, support, react, and lead others. Think of leading self as the catalyst for creating beauty, hope, and inspiration for your team by starting with yourself.

Leading self is a call to action to revamp how leaders show up for their team and it is at the core of ThinkHuman’s leadership philosophy. The concept of “Leadership of Self” was popularized by Charles Manz in 1983, who defined it as an “inward process of creating self direction to accomplish our external goals.”

Leading self embodies taking charge of the narrative leaders tell themselves about a challenging experience, such as how they choose to describe a crisis in their mind right before they react or respond to it. By taking charge of a crisis narrative, leaders take control of the personal impact it has on themselves enabling them to more intentionally lead themselves and their team through it.

How to lead with self

  1. Start with honest self-reflection

    To start leading self, an honest self-reflection is vital. This embodies a non-judgemental observation of your actions, impact, character, and motives. It is the introspective process of getting to know yourself better in that moment in order to lead yourself better in that moment.

    To start, take time for yourself and reflect on these questions:

    • What are the assumptions, actions or dynamics that are draining or filling you?

    • Who are the people on your team who can help you think that through?

    • What are the routines that you need to thrive?

    • What do you need to deprioritize to keep the boat afloat?

    These questions offer a way to start the process of getting to know yourself as a means of understanding yourself and the way you may be impacting your team. The answers to these questions unearth things a leader should hold on to as well as let go of to more effectively lead themselves and others.

  2. Define your North Star

    The second part of leading self is the creation of a North Star. This is a leader’s vision, or intention, for who they will be when presented with a challenge. ThinkHuman conceptualizes a guiding intention as a North Star because the North Star is the only star in the constellation that remains stationary. This makes it a reliable source of guidance for travellers. Let the intention you set for yourself be the guiding source that motivates and grounds how you respond to crisis.

    To determine what your North Star is, imagine that it is six months to a year from now and you write a description of who you have been during this time. What kind of description would make you feel proud? The steps you take to get to that description is following your North Star.

  3. Swim toward the sharks

    When decided, a North Star prepares leaders for a transformative part of leading self: the ability to face challenges with boldness and courage.

    Did you know that when a swimmer encounters a shark, the safest thing to do is approach them head on? Surprisingly enough, when you swim perpendicular to a shark, they are triggered to attack. When you swim right at them, however, they are disarmed. When you have a clear vision, or North Star, of who you want to be remembered as during a crisis, you are empowered to swim directly at the shark. With your North Star illuminating the way, swimming toward the sharks is finding where you’re shrinking, and a first step you can take in that direction.

    “Bring all of you into the light to illuminate the way for your people. The foundation of today is to show all of yourself as we navigate these times together.”

    Meredith Haberfield

    Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman

    Leading self creates permission for leaders to be compassionate towards themselves, enabling deeper relationships with their team and an increased ability to effectively lead. Through leading self, we become more connected to who we would like to be during times of crisis, which ultimately impacts how we lead ourselves and our teams through it.

Written by Jocelin McGovern and Fatma Ghedira

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From The Heart of the C-Suite

An intimate conversation with C-level executives who are #WorkingThroughIt

In this episode, Amy Errett, CEO and Founder of Madison Reed, is in conversation with Culture Amp’s Founder and CEO Didier Elzinga. Listen to hear how these culture first leaders are navigating the unique challenges we’re facing today.

Join the journey

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Resources

We’re all in this together – resources from our friends and partners

This is an unprecedented time. There are no business strategies or ‘hot tips for working from home’ that can change the fact that many of us are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. But we can – and have to – work through it together. These resources from our partners and friends will help us do just that.

Lessons from the last 20 years: How leaders respond in crisis

NOBL

Executive advisor Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz, is well versed in coaching leaders through times of crisis. You’ll get insight into the spectrum of emotions executives go through and tactics to improve communication and connection throughout the organization. He shares communication tactics and the power of being present and sincere.

“To effectively lead, executives must first address the real pandemic: fear.”

Learn more or watch the interview →

Empowering middle managers to lead change

NOBL

Middle managers play a critical role in times of change. The impact of a good middle manager goes beyond employee engagement and extends to maintaining productivity, increasing morale, and inspiring others.

“If you’re not empowering your middle managers, you’re missing a major opportunity to initiate change within your organization.”

Read the article →

Your guide to amazing 1:1s

ThinkHuman

Part of strong, empathetic, and confident leadership is having meaningful one-on-one meetings. In challenging times, it’s crucial to conduct regular check-ins with your team to remove obstacles, support development, and deepen trust.

“Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times more likely to be engaged.”

Download the guide →

Operating in a crisis: A leader’s guide

McChrystal Group

While we can’t predict how quickly things will get back to normal, these business insights could help leaders get ahead of the curve in preparation.

“Your mindset as a leader must shift dramatically – and it must shift today.”

Download the guide →

How we work

Leadership in challenging times

In episode two of HOW WE WORK, we discussed the many unique challenges leaders are facing right now and the new expectations their teams may have from them. How can they best show up for their teams during times of crisis? We spoke about empathy, compassion, and vulnerability and why these qualities are more important now than ever in creating the safe spaces people need to thrive.

Meredith Haberfield

Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman

Lori Mazan

Co-founder and Chief Coaching Officer at Sounding Board

Moe Carrick

Author and CEO of Moementum, Inc.

A conversation series hosted by Culture Amp

Watch the extended episode of Leadership in challenging times.

Inside Culture Amp

How Culture Amp is #WorkingThroughIt

We spoke with Kath Rau, Director of People Operations at Culture Amp, to learn how culture first leaders are supporting their teams through periods of uncertainty.

Kath Rau photo

Personal and professional worlds have collided and people are looking to their managers to guide them through uncertainty. Many leaders are navigating their own sense of confusion and overwhelm. But this uncertainty presents an exciting opportunity to build a new set of work norms and best practices. Here’s how we’re leading through uncertainty at Culture Amp.

Be transparent and vulnerable

People are plagued by questions. Are their jobs safe? Will the organization make it through this? What will the future of work look like? Transparency and vulnerability are essential to building trust and reducing panic. At Culture Amp, members of the leadership team share daily updates through videos, Slack channels, and AMAs. Leaders at any level can leverage these tactics to maintain alignment across their teams and provide a glimpse into how you’re managing change.

Lead by example

Individuals are looking to leadership for an example of how to navigate this new set of challenges. While there may not be a perfect answer, at Culture Amp, we’re seeing leaders at all levels find new ways to better support their teams. Mentors are taking personal days when overwhelmed, blocking personal time on their calendars, and sharing personal challenges with their team.

“Lean in on the things that are certain: your cultural foundations like your mission and values. Employees will look to these things to navigate uncertainty and keep inspired. Leadership visibility and authenticity are key here. Employees look to them to provide regular, clear, and honest communication, and to model how they should be adapting. Seeing that their leaders are human and have their own struggles is powerful in creating a culture of two-way empathy and knowledge that we’re all in this together.”

Kath Rau

Director of People Operations at Culture Amp

Listen to employee needs

With so much uncertainty, leaders at Culture Amp have prioritized listening to the needs of individuals across the organization. Our quarterly engagement survey revealed that career growth is top of mind right now. While this may be different for other organizations, listening to employees enables our leaders to identify opportunities to make a big impact. This primarily addresses larger-scale concerns, our people leaders also created a confidential form so that anyone can request additional support in confidence.

As we navigate these uncertain times, we are sharing our experiences and learnings to support our community. Discover more on the Culture Amp blog.

Photo of Nicole Wolfe

Jenny Strauss

InsideView HR Director/Engagement Leader

As much as I miss being in proximity to my colleagues: the sounds of intense conversations, outbursts of laughter, the way I know how someone fidgets unconsciously in a meeting, or puts their feet up when they are in deep thinking mode, I am grateful for the chance to experience my workmates in fuller ways and for leaders who let themselves be seen.

A shift has occurred in the way we interact. We are apart, but closer, more authentic, and more integrated. This is the real gift of the pandemic.”

Lean into vulnerability

Community

Discover ways to embrace empathy: Form deeper connections in teams with your Culture First Community

Check in to find out how other, like-minded people are taking a Culture First approach to working through it.

Find your people →

Let’s keep this line open

If you’d like to join us on this journey, sign up for updates below and we’ll let you know when the next part is ready for you (we’ll keep it light-touch, nobody needs extra emails right now). In the meantime – stay safe, healthy, stay connected to the people you care about… and keep WORKING THROUGH IT.

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Is anything certain?

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