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🌟 Empirically-Validated Framework For Managers To Increase Well-Being At Work (For Themselves And Their Teams)
Hello friend! 👋
This week we follow through with the same theme - workplace well-being.
There are many ways in which well-being at work is measured and achieved. However, one of the most effective is called the Self Determination Theory (SDT) by Ryan & Deci, developed more than 4 decades ago. Although other well-being theories have also been proven to be effective, the simplicity of SDT’s framework is probably its biggest strength.
Like with everything else in life, simple frameworks are powerful because the threshold to trial is low and consistency is relatively easier to achieve.
According to SDT, humans are intrinsically motivated to be better, work better, and feel better if certain needs are met. Building on Maslow’s theory of needs-based framework, Ryan & Deci tell us we have three main needs: Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness.
If you wish to increase well-being for yourself and others at work (and outside), you can start by addressing each of these needs separately.
And that’s today’s discussion, let’s dive straight in!
Out of all three, autonomy is ranked as the highest need.
It is our need to feel free. To accumulate and protect freedom. Come to think of it, it’s not so far from the truth - we seek money (as a resource) to achieve financial freedom, workout to build physical freedom, and build character strength to have psychological freedom.
Freedom is ultimately having a choice.
As managers, the best way to increase the well-being of your team is by bringing them to the decision table. Having decision authority on the business, having freedom to choose their own style of working, and leaving room for them to decide on their projects are just few ways of fostering autonomy in the team.
As employees, it may often feel like there’s not much choice, but that’s not true.
We ultimate have a choice in where we invest our energy, choice in who to ask for mentorship and collaboration, and in the worst of cases, choices of who we want to show up as to work every day.
Having the wisdom and curiosity to work with what’s within your control can be a big source of autonomy.
Then there is the need to feel confident in our ability to deal with the challenges at work.
This can be in the form of a business problem that requires experience or insight to solve, a difficult colleague (or manager) which requires a set of communication and emotional intelligence skills, or the ambition to be a thought leader and subject-matter expert in the field of work.
All these stem from the need to feel competent.
Which links very well with the notion of FLOW as put forward by Mihaly Czichsentmihaly.
Flow is the state of mental space that is achieved when the intensity of the challenge is fully matched by the set of available skills. When there is a match, there is a sense of full absorption and often loss of sense of time and space.
Have you experienced that before? Recall different instances when you were so absorbed with the work you’re doing and only realize by chance that many hours have past.
I certainly have, and I’m sure you did - in different occasions where the challenge meets the skill.
As manager and employees, the main goal is ensure that you and your team are always on a journey of continuous development and up-skilling - this can be within the field of work or outside it.
The third is the need for relatedness, stemming for our need for belonging.
We are social beings who learnt in the very few days and weeks that we cannot survive without the support of someone else (our carer), from there on, we learnt that we can thrive and advance as a society much faster and bigger than we would on our own.
This need is essentially part of our evolutionary and survival instinct.
Accordingly, as a collection of different humans interacting and working together, a workplace is a living organism that thrives on social connection, collaboration, and inclusive environment. This allows for creativity to peak but also allows for trust to form between team members.
And trust is the fastest mode of operation a team can work with.
At its core, trust allows for simplification - a problem every organization is struggling with. From a personal opinion, the rootcause of the complexity is the lack of trust and if we start with addressing that we can create massive impact in simplification as a by-product rather than treating symptoms.
As managers and employees, the goal is to bring the authentic self to work - this fosters a culture of healthy competition and collaboration.
As you start a fresh week tomorrow, my recommendation is to take time out now and decide what is ONE action you will take under each of those pillars such that you and your team can benefit from increased well-being at work.
As always, have a Super Sunday! 💪
With much joy,