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When Walking the Walk Isn't Enough

Two weeks ago, we discussed the importance of leaders modeling wellness in the workplace. But, sometimes that isn't quite enough to invite people to adopt healthy behaviors. If, for example, your team is remote or has deeply embedded behaviors. So, if you're an HR Director, Chief People Officer, and other wellness leader, what do you do to support?

Adult Development Theorist, Dr. Bob Kegan

At the end of the day, you are NOT your employee's therapist. And, you are not capable of changing their behaviors for them. Adult Development Theorist, Dr. Bob Kegan, has studied this. People have to want to change themselves. And, what often changes for people is not their behavior immediately. Instead, Natali Morad breaks down his theory to share that "it’s about transformation — changing the way we know and understand the world (changing the actual form of our ‘container’)."



As a leader, then, it is your job to create the right environment for positive behavior change. Easy, right? Not really but that's why we're here.


The first step is to always check in with your staff. You won't know how to serve them without learning what their needs are first. Chances are, their needs may differ from your expectations. Plus, when you give them the opportunity to provide input and then you deliver on it, YOU and your org win points! Here are some suggestions on ways to do so (this is something that we can help you set up for free at Spark This Day!):

  1. Send out a general, anonymous survey to inquire what staff may need to do their job better. This allows you to get a general pulse check.

  2. Set up optional 1:1 empathy interviews to have conversations with staff members. This allows you to get to the root of the problem because you can ask follow-up questions.

  3. Set up optional small group conversations over coffee/lunch/snacks. This allows you to observe the dynamics present at your organization in real time.

Once you have information from staff, it is recommended that you support staff in consideration of various layers of the solution (this is something that we can help you think through as well). When coming up with the solution, ask yourself:

  1. Can I provide autonomy of choice to staff?

  2. Can I provide something that is free and always accessible for all staff?

  3. Can I provide something specific that a majority of staff asked for?

  4. Can I provide a support that relieves a source of stress for staff? (hint, hint: this is often NOT a benefit but a change in your system)

  5. How will I support leaders/managers in supporting staff's use of these tools?

Answering these questions should assist you in discovering what might serve staff needs. Once you have decided what you may need, it's critical to truly commit to them. A 3 month trial or pilot will likely feel lacking to your staff, not a true model of systemic change. Instead, consider trying out an initiative for 6-12 months.


In our next blog post, we'll share more information on what to consider in getting your initiative to "stick" with staff. What does it take to get buy-in?

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