How to enhance anti-fragility in organizations
Caring organizations are characterized by cultivating a culture in which people can work and develop professionally while feeling physically and psychologically secure. The short-term success of the organization does not depend on sacrificing this long-term security. Of course, in caring organizations there are tensions, conflicts of interest, dilemmas and moments of anxiety or sadness. The key difference is whether they are managed in such a way that they are productive and regenerative, and do not become a source of chronic or serious discomfort for people.
Caring for people manifests itself in two ways, and both can be necessary and beneficial or they can be twisted and negative. The first is one in which you put yourself in the other person’s shoes to resolve the situation that requires care. The second is the one in which you show or facilitate different possibilities to solve it, making the person or group connect with their capacities and potentialities, so that they can solve the care problem. But there are no models applicable to all situations, since the context is unique, and the way of approaching it is different.
As a major guideline, at Pantheon Work we think that self-care is fundamental, and that it always ends up taking into account in one way or another the care of others, because we are interdependent and do not live in isolation. We promote the greatest possible autonomy and empowerment of the person for (self)care, being aware of two paradoxes:
- People are more capable of self-care when we feel safe and surrounded by people we trust.
- The people who should be the most involved in care in the organization are often the least available to give or receive care.
Pantheon Work promotes organizational cultures in which caring and mutual empowerment are part of the daily lives of everyone on the team, through a set of concrete practices that are mutually empowering. We believe that caring spaces arise naturally among people, if the forms and conditions of work allow it:
- With explicit recognition of the efforts and contributions of all people.
- With the overall vision of how it brings value to the organization and its ecosystem.
- With strategic approaches that take into account uncertain environments.
- With the ability to take reasonable risks, and to make mistakes.
- With room for different voices and opinions.
- And in general, with incentives for collaborative work and mutual support.
We do not generally support the creation of care spaces from management positions; we only favor their creation if the people in the team express the need to do so. In organizations, moreover, people assume that these are spaces of care with limits and respect for privacy, of voluntary participation, and created for a specific and transparent reason. And yet, it is sensitive, because it requires an exposure and a vulnerability that can be more of an added cause of anxiety than a relief.
In relation to these spaces, moreover, there is an issue with which we must be intransigent for both ethical and strategic reasons. We do not promote care spaces that are an island in the midst of an organizational culture of distrust, competition and even generalized abuse. Nor can this culture be replaced by adherence to a particular ideology and organizational needs that override people’s ideas and needs. That is why we are wary of the perverse use of purpose and values in organizations.
That said, the pandemic has also affected organizations with caring organizational cultures. We have seen how these types of organizations we work with have brought out the best in all people, at all levels, to take care of themselves. And they have done so in a complicated context, often with increased workloads that have strained people with children or dependents during working hours due to confinement. We have seen the solidarity of those who did not have these obligations, working more so that their colleagues could take care of their relatives.
For these companies we have prepared some training-action workshops, because it does not mean that it has not been difficult even though it has been overcome. No organization (or society) was perfectly prepared for such strict and long-lasting confinement measures, which affect people’s moods and can leave after-effects. With these workshops we provide support so that the experience of having overcome the COVID-19 pandemic can reinforce their anti-fragility. This workshop also serves to promote collaborative and networked cultural practices from a caring perspective.
The workshops have been designed and are conducted jointly with our collaborator Chantal Blanco, an expert in Strategic Change and Communication from the Palo Alto School of Paul Watzlawick and Giorgio Nardone. Chantal is a registered psychologist with long experience as a manager in centers of attention to people, and as a therapist of Brief Strategic Therapy and coach for professionals.