Full length portrait of diverse business team with young woman in wheelchair chatting to male colleagues in modern office

Creating the conditions for inclusive conversations

By Katie Jacobs

What do leaders need to focus on to succeed in today’s challenging work environment? According to 90% of HR leaders surveyed by Gartner, it’s not finances, strategy or operational excellence – although we aren’t for a moment suggesting you completely forget about these. It’s the more human aspects of leadership that make the difference.

Gartner also found employees who consider their leaders to be human leaders are far more likely to report high engagement than those who don’t think they’re led with humanity and empathy. Highly engaged employees improve team performance by up to 37%. Organisations that focus on the human experience are also twice as likely to outperform their peers, according to McKinsey.

A human leader is an authentic and inclusive role-model who creates meaningful connections with, and between, others. A human leader understands the power that diversity brings to teams and organisations and is genuinely curious about and embraces difference. They understand the value of bringing people together and engendering the development of respectful relationships.

However, as any stellar human leader knows, it’s not enough to just bring people together. Creating the conditions for inclusive and open sharing doesn’t happen by accident – it takes work. We need to give careful consideration to creating the space that allows everyone to have a voice. This means focusing on creating a psychologically safe and open environment where everyone is free to bring their true selves and their ideas, without fear of criticism or judgement.

So, how do you go about creating a human and inclusive experience where everyone is valued for their unique contribution? Leaders need to facilitate everyone speaking up, demonstrating curiosity without judgement and active listening. Simple, effective tools can help. Bailey & French offer a series of practical resources to guide facilitated conversation around the human side of work, resulting in meaningful immediate action and success in longer-term strategic goals.

Conversation mats are great team discussion tools that help people thrive and flourish at work, enabling human connection and in-depth learning through rich dialogue. Leaders can use them to, for example, facilitate a team conversation about strengths. Opening the door to developing an understanding of our own and others’ unique strengths helps teams work together more effectively, as well as fostering positive relationships based on the respect of difference. People who use their strengths every day at work are six times more likely to feel engaged, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to leave.

Using conversation mats to create a safe space for open discussion can give leaders a pulse check on how their people are feeling right now, create connections and communities across groups of people – not just within immediate teams –and boost wellbeing through connecting people to meaning and purpose, driving positive emotions and strengthening relationships.

Mats are available to support meaningful conversation and human connection around:
Human leadership
Performance (conversation cards and notebooks also available)
Wellbeing (conversation cards and notebooks also available)
Strengths (conversation cards and notebooks also available)

By cutting through the jargon and complexity present in so many businesses, it’s possible for leaders to facilitate evolution within their teams, embedding positive behaviour change and excitement about the future.

Using accessible and evidence–based tools such as conversation mats can move people forward in an enjoyable and impactful way. By creating the conditions and setting the framework for positive, inclusive conversations, people will be empowered to thrive and flourish at work. And human leaders understand that enabling that is the single most powerful thing you can do to drive both organisational success and individual wellbeing.

To find out more about how Bailey & French’s products can help your team to thrive, visit our online shop.