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Balancing Productivity and Compassion

It is true that most of us work primarily in order to earn a living and a paycheck. It is also true that, once those basic needs of safety and security are met, most of us hope to find our work both fulfilling and enjoyable. To those ends, we seek jobs and workplaces where we are able to feel a sense of belonging and feel a sense of significance.  
 
Belonging. We don't work in a bubble isolated from who we are in our real life. Fulfilling work allows us to be seen for who we are and feel safe showing up as our authentic self. Our hope is for our team to understand us as a whole person and welcome us as we are. We want to feel like we belong and that we are included.
 
Significance. We want our work to matter and to make a difference. Meaningful work contributes to the team, the company mission, and maybe even the greater good. When we feel that our job allows us to make important contributions, we feel significant and want to stay and do our best work.
 
To build a culture in which our teams feel a sense of belonging and significance, we must find ways to consistently balance productivity with compassion. When the balance leans too far toward compassion, we may lose out on the ability to hold our teams accountable to the results the business needs, the most basic reason we have a team in the first place. We also deny team members the need they have to make a difference through their work, or feel a sense of significance.
 
When the balance leans too far toward productivity, we risk failing to see people for their whole personhood or meet them where they are. This can lead to flight risk, lackluster performance, and disengagement. All of which are costly for the business and damage the trust and respect you've worked to build with your team. Driving too hard on the productivity side, without a healthy dose of individualized attention and compassion, works against feelings of inclusion and belonging.
 
So, how can we get the balance between productivity and compassion right? Here are a few ways you can analyze the situation on the ground right now to see where things could be better.
  • seek to understand what your team has been experiencing and if that impacts how they show up
  • have an understanding of best practices and a game plan for dealing with sensitive situations when they arise
  • be humble and open to new ideas
  • set clear expectations and measures of success
  • create a culture of accountability and (self) advocacy
  • communicate effectively and often based on a plan
Integrating the right balance of productivity and compassion into your culture will help everyone perform and create a sense of loyalty. The team will feel motivated, from the inside out, and encouraged to make a contribution even when times get tough. 
 
Author: Amy Rawls
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