GUEST POST: 3 Questions Every Leader Should Ask Themselves Before Promoting Health Initiatives
After meeting Paul Keefe via LinkedIn, I knew we shared the same passion for workplace transformation. I'm excited to partner with him on some great business initiatives. Here's an awesome article he wrote for this site and all my readers. - Ben
Self-awareness as a catalyst to healthier team habits and building positive engagement
Photo by Min An from Pexels "Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior."
- Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, in Rework It’s Friday at 6 p.m. and you’re still hard at work. You realize that you forgot to ask your coworker to submit an important detail to you before they had left. You frantically shoot off an email at 6:02 p.m. and ask if they can get this to you before Monday rolls around.
The phone buzzes at 6:02 p.m. He puts down his fork as he is eating dinner with his family, and looks at the notification. “Urgent, please open” reads the subject. He reaches for his phone. Are late night emails and other events like this a part of your work culture? How does the rest of your team perceive messages like this?
It can be difficult to understand where our team is at mentally. Looking at our own life, we can easily put on a mask and tell people we are fine, when in reality we are actually burnt out, fatigued, or emotionally drained. Knowing that we experience this, we can be sure that others on our team experience it as well. We can start to take better care of our team’s mental health by first looking at how our own behaviours may be helping or hindering. Often how we act outwardly, is a reflection of how we feel inwardly.
Here are three great self-reflection questions to ask yourself when moving forward with this part of your team’s wellness journey. “What unhealthy messages - spoken and unspoken - might I be sending to my team?”
A great leader always starts with themselves when it comes to eliciting change within their networks. All we can really control is our own behaviors. And we better be sure that our actions align with what we say. Asking our team to live healthier, or trying to get buy-in on an initiative when we aren’t focused on our own health tends to be interpreted through very speculative eyes. Look at the behaviours you are sharing with your team. If you are preaching better work life integration / balance, yet send work emails late into the evening consistently each week, ask yourself if that is reflective of what you are trying to achieve. Opening up and admitting faults, or asking for insights does not make you appear weak. It makes you appear more human. Being more human means there is more connection. More connection means greater psychological safety. Greater psychological safety leads to a happier and healthier team.
“Using my strengths, how can I hold my team accountable to living just a little bit healthier today?”
Always lead with your strengths. You don’t have to be an expert in nutrition or exercise science to positively impact your team’s health. You have strengths and unique abilities that you can leverage to better influence your team today.
What do you kick ass at? Maybe it’s organization and planning. Ask yourself how you could create an accountability system using current scheduling/planning tools. Maybe it’s a shared calendar, weekly stand-up meetings, or a physical check-in board.
If you are great at marketing and communications, you could create rooms/chats within Slack, Basecamp, Microsoft Teams, etc.
Lead with your strengths, and encourage others to do the same. Buy-in and engagement will increase.
“Who can help me champion and promote this cause?”
Finding your wellness champion(s) will drastically improve the chances of success in your initiatives. Thinking you can do this alone will not grant your team success. Find your internal raving fans that will help spread your message. Get their opinions, feedback, and cross-pollinate ideas to help nurture greater team engagement.
By asking for support you show that you actually care. You show that you want to achieve greater team well-being together. You want to achieve this with them, rather than onto them.
Your team will notice, and it will be for the better
It can be difficult to quantify the return on investment when it comes to these sorts of personal changes. But before the number changes on the spreadsheet, the impact will be felt within the experiences. If yourself and those around you feel better, you will notice greater moral, engagement, and productivity, rest assured.
What to do next
1. Reflect on each question. Spend 5-10 minutes writing down your responses to each question. Feel the emotions, and thoughts that arise as you do so. After you get your answers down, ask for input from friends and family as well. This works especially well for the first question - the one in which you may feel the most vulnerable.
2. Take action. Commit to making one small change today that tangibly leads to a positive outcome. That could mean no more snacking on donuts in the office, or maybe it’s stopping the late-night emails!
3. Ask for support. Feel free to reach out to me if you need any support on improving your wellness habits, promoting higher quality initiatives, and leading by example.
Learn how to implement a proven system that nurtures a thriving wellness culture at work and at home. Check out Wellness Blueprint today - now using a flexible “pay what you want” model.
Paul Keefe is a wellness consultant living in Winnipeg, Mb. He helps organizations design remarkable wellness cultures so they can improve team health, engagement, and performance. His clients range from provincial industrial leaders to Canada Top 100 Employers. Coffee and books act as his brain fuel.