By Robyn Short, President & CEO, Workplace Peace Institute
Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.
Core to the human experience is a deep desire to be known — to be truly accepted for who we are as individuals. To be truly known, to have one’s inherent worth and value consistently honored, is the cornerstone of dignity. This is just as true in our professional lives as it is in our personal lives. When we experience dignity in the workplace, we experience emotions such as joy, happiness, and motivation. The experience of having our dignity honored in the workplace allows us to experience vulnerability with one another, which leads to trust and loyalty. When we experience dignity in the workplace, we lean in and contribute at our highest levels.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 38 million people quit their jobs in 2021. (Read that again because it is truly remarkable.) To understand this unprecedented exodus from the workplace, we need only reflect on one universal truth:
Life is an exercise in reciprocity. We pour into the people who pour into us. Retaining talented people in the workplace is that simple (and also that complex).
Leading in a constantly changing workplace requires that leaders intentionally, consistently, and authentically pour into their employees.
Research conducted by Workplace Peace Institute found that a core requirement of experiencing dignity in the workplace is having one’s voice genuinely heard and the experience of having one’s authentic self fully embraced and honored. To create a culture where authenticity is experienced by all people, leaders must actually know their team members. This goes well beyond knowing their roles, expertise, strengths and weaknesses and how all of these aspects play into a human capital strategy (please can we retire that dehumanizing phrase?). Leaders need to understand what motivates each individual on their team — what their individual sense of purpose is, their most effective ways to process challenges and problem solve, and how they respond in both calm and stormy situations. This takes an investment of time, it requires curiosity and compassion, and it also requires a process for actually accomplishing this.
To support leaders in this process of knowing their team members, we use a conflict inventory called The Friendly Style Profile™ … a guide through calm and storm™ for people at work. Developed by two psychologists, Susan K. Gilmore Ph.D. and Patrick W. Fraleigh, Ph.D., The Friendly Style Profile assists in helping individuals develop a comprehensive picture of themselves. The style functions as a tool for understanding how an individual presents psychologically and behaviorally in a normal state of conflict as well as when tensions escalate. The inventory provides a comprehensive picture that includes how spirit, stamina, skills, and style all influence a situation. The authors define these as follows:
Spirit is “the connections among a person’s beliefs, values, and actions; the integrity of the person’s choices.”
Stamina is “the person’s health, fitness, strength, and well-being, both emotionally and physically.”
Situation is “the context of a person’s life; this includes immediate surroundings, general circumstances, family history, community, and culture.”
Skills are “all the abilities and competencies that a person has developed with regard to people, data, and things.”
Style is “the characteristic way a person responds and reacts, internally, to the people and events encountered; style may not be obvious if the person is interpersonally very skilled.”
The authors explain that a person can “alter, modify, shape, and have impact on any and all of the above dimensions;” however, some of the dimensions are easier to alter than others. Stamina is modified through self-care and attention to wellbeing. Skills are modified through intentional personal and professional development. Spirit can mature and grow through intentional effort, personal reflection, and attention. Style is something that is inherent to who a person is and while it can be managed and regulated through emotional intelligence and dignity intelligence skills, it is not something that is likely to change. The authors claim that, “People who understand, accept, and effectively manage themselves are happier and more successful than people who do not.”
Style preference emerges within the individual from “a complex mixture of genetic programming, various child-rearing practices, infinite unplanned life-shaping experiences, a huge number of intentional learning experiences, social cultural variables, nutrition, and exposure to chemical substances.” Style preferences are well-developed by the time a person transitions through puberty and are not likely to change in adulthood. The Friendly Style Profile categorizes style preferences into four distinct styles:
Each style has its own strengths that make particular interactions and transactions easier for that individual. While anyone can acquire the skills necessary to be fluent in each style’s strengths, these strengths come naturally for each particular style. Each style has a particular purpose in work — a motivating driver. Additionally, each style has a particular pace of work that aligns with that style’s strength and purpose. Each style has a preferred method of working, or process. Some styles prefer to work autonomously, while other styles need group work in order to contribute their best work. No one style is better or more effective than another.
Leaders who are committed to truly knowing their team members and honoring their dignity needs will benefit from a facilitated workshop and customized team conflict style handbook to support their efforts to uplift the individual voices within their teams and organization and to ensure a workplace culture of dignity exists. If you want to truly know each individual on your team, Workplace Peace Institute is here to support you.
Dr. Robyn Short is the president and CEO of Workplace Peace Institute – an organizational systems design and research firm that is singularly focused on creating workplace cultures where people thrive. Workplace Peace Institute supports small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model.