People Science Experiments with New Ways of Working
As an organizational psychologist, I often get asked by customers, as well as by friends and family, what I think about a variety of different work-related topics, and more specifically what we are doing as the LinkedIn People Science team about the new realities of work. Frequent questions include: How is your team doing goal-setting and business planning? How do you run meetings? What should I be doing about diversity, inclusion and belonging? Should people be going into the office?
As innovators in People Success, our team of 50+ consultants has been at the forefront of experimentation in this new world of work. We have tried a lot—some new ideas have worked well, and others have needed refinement and iteration to work better.
Below is a list of a few of the things we have implemented as a team based on our People Success Elements. Glint’s six People Success Elements, based on the science of motivation, allow an organization to focus on helping people to be their best selves and do their best work.
We have had success with these ideas, and while I would recommend trying these out, they may need to be adapted to fit within your organization’s culture and team norms.
- Purpose is about how your work serves others and has a meaningful impact. Despite all the changes in a pandemic world, our true north has not changed. We have held steady to our mission, and our team is always focused on creating a world where people are happy and successful at work. Our team meetings are focused on this, and both big and small decisions are evaluated through that lens. It is best practice to know your purpose and constantly reiterate it wherever possible.
- Clarity is about knowing what success looks like and what to prioritize. Although our purpose has not changed, we have altered how we do our business planning and goals. The best advice that we received and have stuck with from day one of the pandemic came from Head of LinkedIn People Science, Justin Black: “Think about all the priorities and key results you have on your plate. Now cut them in half.” The idea is not about doing less work, but Justin has guided us to focus on doing fewer things with very high quality and impact rather than leaning towards quantity. He has allowed our team to have the headspace to think things through for the short-term and long-term, which I would recommend all team leads do for their people.
- Connection is about having high-quality relationships with colleagues. Early in the pandemic, we were doing a Question of the Day exercise in our People Science Connect Teams channel. The questions ranged from fun prompts like sharing images of your worst school-picture-day photo from childhood or adding your favorite song to a collaborative Spotify playlist to more serious topics, such as how people were feeling about COVID or the racial injustice occurring throughout the world. More recently we shifted towards one-on-one relationship-building through LEAD.bot, a Teams app that helps make connections among employees using a matching algorithm every other week. I would highly recommend teams implement these sorts of programs to build connections, especially if your organization is operating in a remote or hybrid environment.
- Well-being is about giving people what they need to feel safe, successful, and valued at work while treating everyone with dignity, fairness and equity. We started a team study group to discuss, learn, and share experiences and stories around diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIBs). This safe space is an employee-led initiative where we meet every other week. A different team member leads each session, and we gather to talk about pressing topics related to DIBs. I have learned so much from my colleagues on a professional and human level, and I feel lucky to be part of these transformative group learning moments. I would suggest that organizations try this and ensure that it is not just an initiative coming from HR, but rather something that is led and filled with energy direct from employees.
- Empowerment is about being trusted with freedom and flexibility to own your work and make decisions about how you best direct your talent and effort. For us, this meant experimenting with Well-being Fridays, a time to recharge, reflect and take care of what we each need to be at our best Monday through Thursday. For some people Well-being Friday is used to focus on deliverables without interruptions from meetings, and for others it is spending the day fully away from the computer. It is up to each team member to spend the day as they choose. Our team has been more productive, we have been producing higher quality work, and we feel less burned out since starting Well-being Fridays. This has been a game changer for me, and I would suggest teams give this a try.
- Growth is about learning new skills and diversifying experiences. Our team has been very focused on growth. We have created a Development & Mobility channel in Teams for team members to post about opportunities for others to get involved with, and we have started a (very active!) Innovation Teams channel, which is all about trying new deliverables and approaches with customers and then sharing experience so all can learn. We have pushed ourselves with new virtual facilitation and brainstorming techniques by creating planned, structured, and thoughtful ways to include all different work styles and preferences. We have also played around (yes, with some bumps along the way!) with virtual whiteboards and collaboration tools to replicate in-person brainstorm experiences.
I hope you try these different ideas out. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what you have tried and what has worked best for you and your teams!