Episode 62 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with work relationship expert Alla Weinberg. You may be wondering, what does a ‘work relationship expert’ do? According to Alla, it entails:
looking at and mapping — actually creating visual maps — of how people relate to each other at work. And when I say relate, I mean think, feel, and behave, towards each other. I do that for a team, and I create visual maps so the team can visualize their own dynamics and see what’s working relationally on a team and what’s not working, with the thought that seeing something, making the invisible visible, you can improve it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything’s going wrong. It can be just how can we even be better at working together at relating to each other so that we can, as a team, use our collective intelligence to serve the work that we’re doing to serve the company in the greater purpose that we have as a team.
Alla recently published a book called A Culture of Safety, which explains how teams and organizations can create work contexts that allow people to do their best work. The goal is to establish conditions that enable psychological safety and trust. Doing so reduces anxiety, which is an obstacle to performance.
if a team leader or manager wants their team to move fast, wants their team to be able to solve complex problems, wants their team to have access to their intelligence — all the things that they’re wanting, all the outcomes that they’re wanting, this performance outcome that they’re wanting — to get there, the team needs to feel safe in working together.
Our conversation was on my mind as the Basecamp mess played out in public. As an outsider, it’s impossible for me to know exactly what happened there, but from reading media reports, I suspect the company didn’t create a culture of the type Alla describes.
Which is to say: this has long been an important topic, but it’s now more important than ever. Organizations ignore the expectations of people entering the workforce at their peril. I suspect Alla’s book is a good primer on this issue.