Well-being springs from our relation to the world

Well-being results from how each of us relates to our world and how our world relates to us. As work is something we spend most of our waking time doing, the work relationships we have are important to us.

How our work unfolds is of concern to us, and how we are treated at work, and how we treat others at work, is related to our well-being.

How organizations are led has a huge effect on the character of work relationships and thus well-being. But it is equally critical to understand that everyone in the organization has a role to play in building an affirming work culture.

Our coaching principles

  • Think clearly: For us, clear thinking is key and much harder to achieve than typically recognized. We emphasize taking the time to think through an issue, and ensure we are genuinely understanding it. Unique to our coaching is understanding the unity of thinking and feeling. Feelings and emotions are signals that help us figure out what is going on and why.
  • Identify false dichotomies: We also find that false dichotomies tend to block us from developing affirming work cultures. To affirm someone is to offer them emotional support and encouragement. All too often, however, we think of affirmation, for example, as though it is the opposite of accountability. Might affirmation be a means toward accountability?
  • Understand the power of metaphor: We pay special attention to the metaphors that frame our understanding of problems as well as possibilities. Philosophical dilemmas frequently lay underneath an issue. So, for example, while many will desire “balance” — say between employee autonomy and management direction — we think in terms of “harmony.” For with autonomy comes responsibility, and so the issue is less one of balance, and more one of bringing into harmony the need for discretion and the need for oversight.
  • Foster communication and role clarity: We all know that communication and role clarity are important, yet our understanding of how they relate to well-being is underdeveloped. How, when and why organizational communication takes place is as significant for well-being as what is communicated. And as role clarity is integral to effective communication, it too is key for fostering an affirming work culture.
  • Understand that context is key: While the types of concerns that organizations face are often common, the information and steps needed to address these difficulties are almost always context specific. For example, many school districts struggle with communication. Yet, communication issues resulting from a school board are different from those caused by outdated role descriptions or an influx of new employees.
  • Individuals are rarely the problem: More frequently, the problem is getting the right people in the right place, with the right resources, role expectations and structures.

Our coaching method

While we seek to customize our services to meet the unique needs of each client, our coaching typically consists of the following components and steps.

  1. We begin by getting to know you and your context. In this phase, we ask many questions. Here we want to become your mirror.
  2. We then assess staff well-being. These assessments enable us to study how individual staff well-being is affected by the character of relationships between staff, and between staff and administrators.
  3. We then share key findings, emerging questions, and considerations for next steps. We talk through all the issues and everyone’s reactions to them. Leaders steer future staff assessments as the coaching for affirmation work unfolds — either testing the effect of implemented changes or targeting a specific area to better understand staff needs.
  4. We then re-asses staff well-being but these are modified based on our meetings and what we have learned. This constitutes the coaching cycle, which can be repeated as needed.