• People

Flourishing needs nurturing

10 April 2024

Working as one team is a high priority for us at JUMO, but strong, productive teams don’t develop by happenstance. It takes intentional nurturing from self-aware leaders who are willing to seek and act on feedback. Senior Business Partner Carolyn Henry shares the importance of viewing your experience through various lenses.

Our cultural behaviours at JUMO are what unite us and inform how we go about achieving our collective vision. One of these important behaviours is working as one team. We go all out to ensure we do this at JUMO by understanding how we contribute and impact one another while taking collective ownership of our mission. We trust each other to do our bit and pull together across our functions for the good of JUMO.

However, in order for us to get this right and for our teams to flourish, we need to nurture ourselves first. If that sounds a bit counterproductive, think of it like those well worn safety demonstration instructions on an airline: in case of a crisis we need to give ourselves oxygen first before attempting to help others.

Many years ago I used to run a development programme and one of the taglines was ‘Your manager is the lens through which you look at your company.’ This simple phrase has stuck with me throughout my career and I use it daily to focus team leads on getting back to the basics. Whether I am discussing team structure with an executive leader or coaching a junior team lead on how to approach a difficult conversation, the fundamentals remain the same.

Every person will form a different view as they see through their own lenses which don’t always align in focus. That’s why it’s helpful to examine matters through each of the 3 lenses, which are: the organisational lens, the employee lens and the leader lens.

The organisational lens is focused on what is best for the company. What needs to be done to ensure sustainable company success? The employee lens is how an employee experiences the company. Whether this be through remote working, work-life balance, remuneration, benefits or culture.

The most challenging is the leadership lens, where managers need to simultaneously look through all three lenses at once – so they take into account their own view, and then overlay the organisational and employee lenses.

This is a skill that constantly needs to be nurtured and sense checked. If a manager focuses too much on their own view, they may be seen as selfish, if they focus too much on the employee lens, they may not be seen as a strong leader organisationally, and if they only use only the organisation lens, they could be seen to be driving an outcome or agenda in isolation, without being people focused.

The responsibility of a leader is to try to balance how they manage looking through all three of these lenses when addressing day-to-day decisions, communications, and team development. When this is achieved, it creates a better employee experience and environment for all.

If you aren’t sure if you are getting this balance right, you can simply start by asking for feedback from your teams. I have always found that being curious to learn more about yourself is incredibly powerful. It is often referred to as sharpening your sword or knowing your superpower, and the only way to do it is to become vulnerable by asking others for feedback. We see ourselves through our own lenses and therefore see what we want to see, and not necessarily what others see. So if we shy away from growing our self-awareness we will never know if our actual impact is what we intended.

The best way to check if our best intentions are landing with our team members is to muster the courage to ask for candid feedback. We have a tried and tested method of applying the growth through feedback framework at JUMO. It all starts with a willing conversation and signalling your intent, for example, ‘I’m wondering if there’s a way we can do things better’ or ‘I’d like you to help me understand how I’m showing up as a manager’. Thereafter you can look at data points or specific examples that speak to the matter, consider the impact of the examples and practise active listening as you take in what you’re hearing. If problems arise, solutions can be brainstormed together creatively.

So, it’s all about self awareness. In order for your team to flourish you need to nurture yourself first and the best way to do that in a team setting is with intentional self awareness.

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