Graham Allcott, founder of Think Productive and author of 'How to be a Productivity Ninja', recently spoke at Advanced’s People Experience Pioneer Summit around the importance of ‘kindful’ leadership.
Graham is working to get rid of the stigma that kindness is a weakness in the world of work. We’ve long seen business giants like Alan Sugar and Donald Trump engraining the message that being aggressive and ruthless is the way to succeed in the world of business, and if you show compassion and patience you can’t command respect from others. This just simply is not true, many leaders have done great things and also treated their people well.
In the modern day business environment a cut throat attitude rarely gets the desired results, with people favouring a leader who can create safe space in which hard work and creativity can flourish. People need to be able to communicate honestly with their leaders, and know that their ideas and concerns will be met with an open mind, people cannot thrive if they are too afraid to communicate.
What does kindful leadership mean for an organisation?
Graham explains that he has observed time and time again the pattern of growth that follows a kinder approach. When organisations focus on kindness, they can see many positive changes. HR teams who take a kinder approach to people management can see an increase in trust and confidence from employees. The employee feels that their organisation really cares for them as an individual, and doesn’t see them as simply a cog in the machine.
When employees feel that they are just a cog and aren’t valued as individuals, we can see resentment, a lack of effort and increased staff turnover. Who wants to give their very best to an organisation that doesn’t value them?
On the other hand, when kindness is introduced and people are recognised for the work they put in and the talent they bring to the organisation, we find trust grows along with a level of mutual respect that helps everyone perform at their best.
This kindness culture creates a space where people feel emotionally safe to work to the best of their ability, where employees feel they are able to take risks, make suggestions and challenge their leaders, safe in the knowledge that they can try new things and be creative. When the boundaries are pushed and employees are empowered to work in a way that they feel is best for them, this is when great things happen in business. Profits and productivity will generally increase, while attrition and staff turnover go down.
Why is this important right now?
We are living in a world in which younger generations are placing high importance on their values, and will actively seek out workplaces that reflect these, and that will give them the environment they desire. With the rapid rise of remote working since the pandemic the world is their oyster; if they have the skills and knowledge needed, they could in theory work for an organisation anywhere in the world. This means they are selective, and are looking for an employer that fosters a good workplace culture, with a company that has positive values, commits charitable acts, encourages creative thinking and offers a healthy work / life balance.
So, anything less than a total commitment to a people first work culture puts an organisation at risk of losing out on fresh talent, and of losing the talent they have when current employees see other organisations making a positive commitment to their people. And with websites like Glassdoor along with other social media outlets, people are able to share their experiences, both good and bad, with the world in seconds.
Getting leaders onboard
For some organisations, this way of leading may not look too different to what is already in place, and only minor tweaks will need to be made to achieve a truly kindful place to work. For others this may seem like a daunting task that will radically change the status quo. And so it isn’t uncommon for HR to experience some pushback when they approach the organisational leaders with these new ideas.
It is important therefore to be clear about the outcomes, and show that this is tangible and not just fluff. Taking a kinder approach to business has been proven to work, Graham states that ‘In my own business one of the core values is that ‘trust and kindness are our rocket fuel’’.
It can be tempting for organisational leaders to dismiss fundamental changes, stating that they are too time consuming or expensive. But ask them to think about how expensive and time consuming it is to bring on and train new members of staff, and to lose valuable team members with a wealth of skills and knowledge to a competitor because they are willing to offer them a better place to work.
Trust and loyalty are not freely given by your employees, they are earnt over time, it is an investment into your organisation’s future. But when done right the rewards speak for themselves: a relationship between employer and employee built on mutual trust and respect that supports creativity and productivity and boosts employee retention. You are building a reputation as an employer that people want to work for.
To achieve this you might need to think about your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). A strong, well embedded EVP goes a long way towards strengthening levels of employee retention and engagement. Your EVP reflects the values of your company, how you treat your employees will be a key part of this, going the extra mile and offering employees more than the basics will set you ahead as a good employer. Find out more about how you can strengthen your EVP here.
At Advanced, we believe in the power of technology to help you achieve more. We understand that the future success of your business will be largely entwined with your EVP and your perception as a brand, which is why our Advanced HR software has been designed specifically to give you the HR data you need to understand how your employees are feeling (through Pulse Surveys for instance) and to pinpoint what may be holding you back from a recruitment and retention point of view. Get in touch to discover how you can improve access to powerful HR data with our software.