This mistake prevents organisations from creating an optimised environment for psychologically safe, happy & impactful employees.
The basis of personal development, (being at the core of Wellbeing) is personal responsibility and accountability for our own experiences. This principle is reflected in Jordan Peterson (Clinical Psychologist) 12 Rules of Life. Also, every great leader needs to know how to handle each person and each situation!! They need to know how to heal the wounds and avoid conflict – on a daily basis.
However, in coaching and mentoring general counsels and heads of legal across the UK, I have seen a large number of organisations remove the individual responsibility from leaders by making HR departments solely accountable and responsible employee wellbeing, with limited (to no) responsibility and accountability for leaders.
This is a big mistake and a lost opportunity for leaders to “first- hand” take responsibility for their own development (i.e. lead by example) and to manage their daily people issues proactively and effectively.
We don’t need a psychologist to tell us that workplace stress arises mostly from people and communication issues, work volume and (particularly) how well these are managed. In my former job as a Solicitor in all contracts we are taught to place ownership for risk in the hands of the party who has direct control over it! Passing the responsibility and risk to a department who doesn’t have direct day to day control over the day-to-day issues – is a major risk and flaw in the system.
I have seen the following challenges in this type of structures: Leaders being resistant to wellbeing training, as it is not priority for them (as their performance is not measured against this). They are not held accountable. This in turn compounds, the already difficult task, of showing the organisation takes mental wellness seriously. Which in turn creates disharmony between employees and leaders.
In my experience, leaders who best manage these issues are those who invest in their self- development. Only those who see the personal benefit in self-development (and have a stake in the game) are more committed and successful in managing their own wellbeing. Leaders who embrace personal development are more self-aware of their state, have strong emotional regulation, understand their impact, and are capable of adjusting. They have clarity of mind, have higher empathy and organisational awareness. And guess what - this trickles down, it creates a safer and secure environment, where employees excel.
So, how do we correct this? It's simple – make each leader individually responsible for taking steps to manage their well-being. I don’t mean hold training and hope they come along and commit. Make it part of their performance review – set parameters for measuring self-awareness, emotional resilience, empathy, communication skills, knowing their impact and organisational awareness.