The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast

64 Cultivating Respectful Workplaces: Strategies for a Civil and Just Culture with Radhika Nair

May 20, 2024 Dr Nia D Thomas Episode 64
64 Cultivating Respectful Workplaces: Strategies for a Civil and Just Culture with Radhika Nair
The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
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The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
64 Cultivating Respectful Workplaces: Strategies for a Civil and Just Culture with Radhika Nair
May 20, 2024 Episode 64
Dr Nia D Thomas

In today's episode,  Nia Thomas engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Radhika Nair, a seasoned HR and organizational development expert. Together, they delve into the intricate world of workplace culture, addressing issues such as risk management, bullying, and the ever-evolving dynamics of the modern workplace.

Radhika is a passionate advocate for civility and respect in all aspects of life. She believes in the importance of courteous behavior and recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every individual. In her line of work, she promotes and raises awareness of these values, educating people on their significance in interpersonal interactions and in society as a whole. Radhika sees civility and respect as the glue that holds people and societies together, guiding and fostering positive interactions in personal and professional settings. Her dedication to promoting these values is evident in her work and her commitment to creating a kinder and more respectful world.

Radhika shares her wealth of knowledge, advocating for a just and restorative approach to organizational culture and emphasizing the critical role of self-aware leadership. Their discussion touches on the impact of hybrid working, psychological safety, and the importance of fostering a culture of respect. Listeners will gain insightful perspectives on navigating workplace challenges, promoting civility, and building a speak-up culture. Tune in as Nia and Radhika provide valuable insights for creating fair, safe, and inclusive work environments.

Access the NHS Civility and Respect Toolkit here

Connect with Radhika on Linkedin  here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...


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Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode,  Nia Thomas engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Radhika Nair, a seasoned HR and organizational development expert. Together, they delve into the intricate world of workplace culture, addressing issues such as risk management, bullying, and the ever-evolving dynamics of the modern workplace.

Radhika is a passionate advocate for civility and respect in all aspects of life. She believes in the importance of courteous behavior and recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every individual. In her line of work, she promotes and raises awareness of these values, educating people on their significance in interpersonal interactions and in society as a whole. Radhika sees civility and respect as the glue that holds people and societies together, guiding and fostering positive interactions in personal and professional settings. Her dedication to promoting these values is evident in her work and her commitment to creating a kinder and more respectful world.

Radhika shares her wealth of knowledge, advocating for a just and restorative approach to organizational culture and emphasizing the critical role of self-aware leadership. Their discussion touches on the impact of hybrid working, psychological safety, and the importance of fostering a culture of respect. Listeners will gain insightful perspectives on navigating workplace challenges, promoting civility, and building a speak-up culture. Tune in as Nia and Radhika provide valuable insights for creating fair, safe, and inclusive work environments.

Access the NHS Civility and Respect Toolkit here

Connect with Radhika on Linkedin  here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...


Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

Nia Thomas [00:00:06]:
Hello, and welcome to the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast, where we discuss self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. I'm your host, Nia Thomas. Join me as talk to today's guest. I'm joined today by Radhika Nair. And, I I really do feel like I'm I'm in

Nia Thomas [00:00:23]:
the presence of a bit of a celebrity because I've I've seen Radhika's name on really important documentation and really important things that have been happening in the National Health Service in the UK for quite some time. So I'm really looking forward to this conversation today. Radhika is a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with over 2 decades of strategic HR and organizational development experience. She's worked in organizations ranging from hospitality, retail, telecoms, charity sector, and the UK National Health Service. She's had a broad range of strategic and leadership experiences working closely with executive boards and senior leadership teams at a national level, as well as working in frontline service provider organization. She continues to be involved in the development of a national suite of National Health Service people policies, and she advocates for a just culture principles and restorative practices. And hopefully she can tell us a bit more about what that means in a minute. She's recently launched her own Activate Culture consulting to influence and support organizations to create the right cultures to drive their business performance.

Nia Thomas [00:01:37]:
Radhika, it's wonderful to have you here.

Radhika [00:01:40]:
Thank you so much for inviting me. I'm absolutely delighted and excited to be here.

Nia Thomas [00:01:45]:
It's, it's really amazing to have this opportunity to, to have this conversation. So I first became aware of Radhika and her work when she was leading the NHS Ability and Respect program. So I was working in the NHS in a Speak Up role when the NHS Ability and Respect Toolkit was launched. It was, and I think it still is an excellent toolkit. Radhika, tell us more about civility and respect.

Radhika [00:02:13]:
Sure. And you've started with my most favorite topic. So thank you for that. To me, you know, civility is about courteous behavior and politeness and respect involves recognizing the inherent worth and, you know, the dignity of an individual. So getting those you know, getting that basic understanding of what civility and what respect means is hugely important to me. And it is something I try and promote and raise awareness of and educate people all the time in my line of work. And and again, just sort of coming back to how important is this, I think it is hugely important because I feel it acts as a glue that holds people and societies together. It guides and it fosters how people will interact with each other in all possible settings, whether it's in the personal life or in a workplace.

Radhika [00:03:03]:
And I think civility and respect of the behaviors associated with that are absolute building blocks for, you know, preventing and resolving conflicts when these arise. It's also about creating a space where everyone feels listened to, valued, and included, which are becoming so important for many organizations nowadays. But having said all of this, over the years, my real understanding of what civility means has come through from my own experience or from witnessing, you know, when it is not shown. And and the pain and the discomfort and the disengagement that comes from it for the individual or the people around them or if it's in a workplace, then the team is, you know, hugely revealing. And when we talk about incivility and disrespect, we are talking about a very broad range of behaviors, you know, that could consist of overtly rude or unkind behaviors, even micro behaviors known as microaggressions, and throwing a good measure of attitude, bad kind of attitude, you know, and this can be the tone of the voice or racing your voice or even rolling eyes at somebody, making sharp comments or having a banter at someone's expense, which sounds like a personal attack, but it can be covert as well. So, you know, those behaviors which are like gossiping or undermining somebody or excluding certain individuals, you know, it could be a drink after work, and you just excluded somebody from from even inviting them. Now why I focus on civility and respect is because it helps to draw attention to low level or low intensity poor behaviors where the intent to cause harm is not that clear, not always very clear. And we and and which we tend to sort of overlook.

Radhika [00:04:59]:
You know? So if someone snapped at me, I might think, oh, they've never done this before to me, or I'm too embarrassed, or maybe it's such an it's not such a big deal. Maybe there's nothing really to go over and say anything about it or maybe no one noticed and maybe I should just let it pass. You know? So that's the low level, low intensity. But in reality, in a workplace, if you were to run a survey or run a staff engagement or ask people, you will find that all of us are more likely to experience these low level behaviors more than serious behaviors, which are associated with bullying and harassment. If you looked at the definition, a formal definition on ACAS website.

Nia Thomas [00:05:39]:
Yeah, absolutely. I was quite interested in the fact that you do refer to civility and respect rather than bullying and harassment. It's almost as if you start from the place of this is what we want as opposed to what we don't want. And I think, but certainly when we're talking, talking about how we, we speak to children, it's about don't tell them what we don't want them to do. Tell them what we do want them to do. And it feels like there's a similarity in terms of using your linguistic programming to be able to focus our behavior in the direction we want.

Radhika [00:06:13]:
That's right. But it doesn't come without a share of challenge, if I could put it that way. Because Mhmm. If you if if or in in my in my roles in the last few years where I talk more about civility, respect, restorative practices, people ask me openly, are you trying to not acknowledge that bullying and harassment happens? And are you trying to undermine that it happens? Or are you trying to focus on low level behaviors and not things that's most have more serious impact. And, and, and, and my response has always been that, you know, we do understand the seriousness behind bullying and harassment. No one's taking that away. And it's a well recognized, you know, what happens in terms of impact, but it is often the low level behaviors, you know, all of that, which, which never gets addressed. No one talks about it because people think it it's something probably not, you know, who makes a big deal of it.

Radhika [00:07:07]:
So, and I think you you you've kind of nailed it there by saying, you know, yes, it is about talking about behaviors we want to encourage than discourage. And I think as part of doing that, the behaviors we want to discourage will get discussed, but the one that we are promoting actively is about the ones that we want to encourage.

Nia Thomas [00:07:29]:
Absolutely. I think that's a really, really interesting way of thinking. As you know, the, what we're interested in this podcast is self awareness. And you can see when we're talking about civility and respect there, there is that foundation of self awareness. So I'll ask you, what I ask lots of my guests. How do you define self awareness?

Radhika [00:07:49]:
Well, so for me, it is the, it is the ability to intro respectively understand and recognize what my thoughts are, my feelings, my emotions, and including the physical aspects. Right? So am I hungry? Am I tired? Or even the new word I've learned recently, hangry, you know, where you're hungry because or you're angry because you're hungry. But, yeah, but it's all of that and and how all of it would manifest itself into the behaviors that I then exhibit. Right? So outwardly, if I was to say, you know, act rudely towards you or or or any or be unkind to you, Outwardly, what you experience is my behavior. And and and once it goes wrong, once it's left me and it's it's you've heard it, it's very difficult for me to take it back. Now through self awareness, I could correct some of those things. Right? I could I will know that saying something like that or acting some something like that could be seen as, you know, not being kind or being seen as rude behavior. But on the other hand, I may have behaved in a way where it has had a positive impact on you, and and that self awareness will help me recognize that is a behavior to hold on to.

Radhika [00:09:06]:
So so there is it's it's both ways actually. So things that you need to change or get rid of from your life, and also it could be about things that you need to continue to sort of work, you know, bit you know, sort of continue to keep because it works well. And I would say that like most other people I've experienced highs and lows from all sorts of so be it at work or in my personal life. As an self proclaimed introvert, you know, one would assume that introspection and self awareness comes just easily to me, but actually doesn't. That's it. You know? And I have to very consciously almost cultivate this habit to think about my strengths, think about think about my weakness, values, how my beliefs come into play, and what my emotions are in that situation. And in terms of, you know, how does one become self aware, I think people have to really be willing to assess themselves. You can't force somebody to do it, but you can show them the merit of doing it.

Radhika [00:10:09]:
The people have to start recognizing what is the impact of their words or actions on understand what changes can be made, understand what changes can be made, and, and how that might impact some of the decisions made in the future.

Nia Thomas [00:10:30]:
I love the fact that you said that just because you're an introvert doesn't mean you're self aware. And, and I think that's so true. I think as an introvert, we, we are very good at introspection, but, my definition of self awareness has got 3 layers, which is reflection, which is the internal part. Then there's recognition of your impact and regulation of your behavior. And just because we may be more, more inclined to do the first part doesn't mean we're, we're any good at the second and the third part. And those are the things just like anybody else we have to work at.

Radhika [00:11:02]:
Absolutely.

Nia Thomas [00:11:04]:
I'm interested to know because you've had lots of different roles where within people leadership, and I'm I'm interested to know, do you find that there is a connection between an improvement in civility and respect in an organizational culture when there is increased self awareness?

Radhika [00:11:23]:
I think as a you know, at a basic level, self awareness is something that needs to be inculcated and encouraged in every single person within an organization. Right? So I think it's crucial for sort of the personal growth, for ensuring effective communication between individuals within a team setting. It helps build some really sort of healthy relationships and boundaries as well. And and also I'm gonna take it a bit further and talk about it from a preventative lens, what it can do. So it helps to very proactively mitigate when a situation looks like it's slipping out of your hands. So, you know, that self awareness really helps. It helps individuals to understand how their actions and words affect others. It helps us to, you know, exactly what you said earlier, which is regulate our behavior and also, you know, helps us sort of navigate all sorts of situations, which I think is important.

Radhika [00:12:18]:
Right? And increasingly our interactions, whether it's in our personal life or whether it's in our, you know, professional capacity, it will need more empathy and sensitivity. Right? And, and a, and a good dose of kindness for sure. So and all of which is really important because it helps to promote that ultimate aim of creating, a civil and respectful culture. So individually, I think there is a, there is a lot to be done before we then look at it from an organizational point of view. And as much as self awareness is important, I think it can also come from other interventions, which can be provided by the organization. So this is through feedback, right? It can be through a sort of a mentoring relationship. Some of that self awareness can come out of a coaching conversation or perhaps even like a peer to peer conversation, you know, with another trusted colleague. So, yeah, so I think all of that can have a sort of interplace.

Nia Thomas [00:13:20]:
Yeah. Absolutely. When we think about the stability in respect toolkit, there are 4 levels of, I guess, increasing formality, we could say. And maybe for colleagues who are listening and watching that they are used to that more formal HR led element, whereas it's about, you know, the, the disciplinaries and notes being written on people's files, etcetera. But there are those 4 levels that allows people to give that feedback in a more informal level. So tell us about those four levels. How do they fit together?

Radhika [00:13:58]:
Right. So before I talk about the toolkit itself or what's in the toolkit, I like to start by saying that this toolkit is intended to reduce bullying and harassment in the NHS context, but it is just as applicable to any organization, I think. Right? It doesn't matter which part of the world you are in. But the bigger aim is to help organizations to recognize what civility and respect is or what it isn't, and to be able to set themselves on this journey to become a civil and respectful workplace. So that's what the toolkit is. Now this toolkit is to me, I have never thought this toolkit is extraordinary in that sense, but, you know, the feedback that we get from people actually almost tells us otherwise. But I think from people who are promoting it, we thought, what does it need to do at a very basic essential level? It provides a set of principles and guidelines on what is the supportive and the corrective stands that any organization can take if they wanted to promote a similar and respectful workplace. So that was absolute starting point here.

Radhika [00:15:06]:
Right? And the other thing the toolkit does is that it, there is a very sort of positive shift in language where we increasingly talk about behaviors that we want to encourage than discourage. And it takes away, you know, it takes away the the pressure on the organizations where they think you've got to blame and punish somebody to really resolve the issues. You don't have to. So so that's one thing I would just wanted to say quite at the start, because I think those are the 2 or 3 things that really sets this toolkit apart from many other toolkits that you find. Now we know that negative workplace behaviors can range from incivility right through to bullying. And I explained earlier that, you know, they can be overt and covert and persistent or whatever. Now organizations need to look at different approaches for different levels of behavior, and this is where the four levels that you talked about. Now in the toolkit, what we reference is the Vanderbilt model of professional behavior, which suggests that incidents can be resolved at an informal stage through, you know, sort of like a cup of coffee conversation approach.

Radhika [00:16:15]:
And and using that approach will have a higher chance of successfully changing the behavior. Right? Now there may, of course, be cases of bullying where a formal process is required or if it's in a healthcare setting, like where I work, there's a safeguarding element to it. So we are not saying, hey, let's start with a cup of coffee. Absolutely not. That's not appropriate. Now when it comes to bullying, it might be obvious or it might be even insidious. Right? It may be persistent or it could be an isolated incident, but of a very serious nature. So that is probably where you need more escalated formal stages, you know, to apply.

Radhika [00:16:55]:
Now what this model does is it addresses disruptive behavior essentially, which focuses on 4 graduated interventions. So the first intervention, which is at the bottom, it's like a pyramid if you look into the toolkit. At the single isolated incidents, you know, and where you can have a kind of more single isolated incidents, you know, and where you can have a cup of coffee and you're starting to have a chat about what might have gone wrong there and how to change that behavior. The second step is, again, non punitive, which is important because that's where the whole restorative aspect comes in. But this is the intervention where you're raising an awareness because you've started to reveal certain patterns to maybe perhaps, you know, these kind of certain complaints are coming in. There is some things are happening sort of repetitive with a certain employee concern or a team concern. And what you're trying to do is encourage them to reflect on what might be behind some of that emerging patterns. So that's the next step.

Radhika [00:17:55]:
The third one is where the pattern continues to persist. Right? Where you've done the informal cup, you've done the next awareness intervention, and but the pattern continues to persist, and the behavior then, you know, continues to stay. And and this is where some of that informal coaching directive approach. So so so that's that next level. And the 4th level is where it gets really serious. It's an escalated formal stage now. And this is probably where the imposition of a disciplinary process comes in because all the previous plans have failed. Right? So and and this would be required where where an employee just fails to improve their conduct or behavior following all of the previous steps or if there has been one single incident which amounts to gross misconduct, so then you just have to go straight with it.

Radhika [00:18:52]:
You know, personally, having described all 4, reflecting on my journey as a HR and OD professional, I would say a majority of the cases have easily fallen under where a cup of coffee conversation would be just enough. Right? And I use it all the time with great results. I have to say. You know? It it it doesn't cause as much harm as we would have had we used any other intervention. And we're able to see the change in that behaviors as well. And like I mentioned before, I'm a huge advocate of using just culture and a restorative culture approach and all of which just concentrates on, you know, creating a culture and the leadership elements of an organization where people can be nurtured and, you know, people can be supported to grow more compassionately in that workplace. So yeah.

Nia Thomas [00:19:44]:
We will make sure that there is a link in the show notes to the toolkit. What I will recommend is if you are interested in a speak up culture or anti bullying, then read the document. Because even if you don't use the toolkit element, the, the, the first part, that descriptive part is really well written and it will really take you through what's happening in the world in terms of civility, respect, disrespect, bullying, harassment. And it's something that I absolutely recommend people to do because I think you're right. It, even though it's an NHS document, I think it has global usability and applicability. So I think that that's definitely worth you accessing. I'm interested in your thoughts about that coffee cup conversation. So I'm very lucky I was trained in the 4 layer, feedback mechanism and that coffee cup conversation.

Nia Thomas [00:20:40]:
So that peer messenger approach. One thing that we talked about in the training was that there are many occasions where people who demonstrate instability or disrespect probably on a fairly regular basis, have never had this kind of feedback. And that one occasion where they have feedback, it really is a light bulb moment. Is that something that you're finding? Is that something that people are telling you?

Radhika [00:21:08]:
Yes. All the time. And I think, you know, people do so there is an increase in the touch points people would have, which which could be considered as a feedback session. But again, you know, there's something about the quality of that conversation, whether it's a two way process, is it an enabler to have the right kind of conversation? So those are some of the other issues I'm picking up, but if there's no feedback and if self awareness is low in a person, then how does one truly become aware of unhelpful behaviors at play and what I find that a lot of organizations fail to take those early interventions approach, you know, sorting out things as they happen, and then wait for this end of year appraisal conversation to do this big dump of all the things we've been wanting to tell you all year, but we did not tell you. And then that causes a huge amount of harm, hurt, and it then leads to all sorts of conflict, which then leads to bigger problems for the organization. Like, you know, it could cause a retention issue. It could cause a reputational issue and and and and so forth. Right? Now as an individual, getting feedback is a crucial step to getting that opportunity to change something that that you've observed is not working.

Radhika [00:22:35]:
Right? But I don't know. Now as an organization, obtaining that balance between addressing incivility, which I might be displaying in my behaviors and what could which which could, if left unaddressed, could take a grip on the organization and become more bullying behaviors. That is important. So is it not easier to deal with incivility than to try and deal with that one bullying case, which will take up 99% of your time and resources. So one doesn't quite think like that, you know, where and as an organization leader, I would urge all of them to think like that. Also, if there is a focus on low level behaviors of incivility and disrespect, a lot of these, like I said, can be addressed at an early and an informal level. But a lot of managers are find, do not either have the courage or do not have that interest or do not prioritize such early interventions. So there's a lot of work to be done.

Radhika [00:23:37]:
Yeah.

Nia Thomas [00:23:37]:
And interesting as you're saying that there is something about empowering our direct reports, our staff, the people within our organizations to know that they can have these conversations, because some of them are really hard and you have to be brave and you have to demonstrate courage when you go in to have those conversations in some instances. And I think when people don't know for sure whether their leaders in their organization have got their back, that's when it's even more difficult to provide that feedback. So your organizational policies and procedures can say what they like, but if you don't have the people who are living that backup to you as somebody who's going in to have a difficult conversation, then that feedback isn't going to happen. And that, as you say, that all behavior then escalates. And the only time it is dealt with is when it's a significant grievance and there's a bullying issue.

Radhika [00:24:32]:
Absolutely. I mean, I'm reminded of one organization I worked in where, it had almost become a culture that line managers would want HR to sit in meetings where which would be our feedback meetings. And I would when I got there, I started openly challenging, which

Nia Thomas [00:24:49]:
then I had

Radhika [00:24:49]:
to meet a lot of resistance to change that. And I mean, over a period of time, you kind of sorted that out through, you know, proper coaching intervention and supporting blind managers to gain the confidence that they can. And and if you are stuck in a conversation where, you know, you you you don't know how to sort of progress further on it, then HR is always there to help you. But you are the one who's got to front that conversation. But those were very interesting days of, you know, meeting that resistance and and seeing that people were just simply not, kind of willing to put themselves forward to have those conversations.

Nia Thomas [00:25:27]:
That that links very well with your your your interest and your support and your ambassadorship really for a restorative approach. Because if we allow something to get to the point where it's become a HR issue, we haven't really thought about the restorative approach because ultimately when we're in the world of work, we have to, once we've had these position. So tell position. So tell us more about your thoughts on a just culture and a restorative approach.

Radhika [00:26:06]:
So what the just culture does is it's about creating workplaces that's fair, you know, fair to everyone. It takes the focus away from the blame game. So when something goes wrong, you're not looking to you're not going after an agenda where you're trying to pin the blame on somebody, but you are truly creating that safe space for everybody. This is not about pinning the blame, but let's look at what went wrong. You know, what factors were at play? What could have been done differently and truly taking the learnings away from it. And that is what just culture does. Right? And restorative practices practices is really about, I mean, I'm a huge believer that, you know, the restorative practices preserve the energy of the organization and conflict burns the energy of the organization. And an organization has to decide where it wants to put its focus on.

Radhika [00:27:01]:
But getting restorative practices is hard work. Right? It's initially, it's a hard work. You've got to it can't be about just throwing in a few interventions without having put enough thought behind it around how you are going to manage a situation or how you're going to support managers or people working within the organization in in a situation of conflict. Right? So choosing your right levels of interventions is important. And there is a method to doing that, which is by looking at your data, looking at, you know, you've got a policy, which is great. It's a statement of intent. At the end of the day, that's the purpose it serves. But what is the process and where is the harm being caused in how the processes are being played out within the organization.

Radhika [00:27:47]:
So there can be there can be some right levels of interventions chosen for every organization, which will be different for every organization, but it is hard work.

Nia Thomas [00:27:59]:
I was, having a conversation with Bob Thomas a couple of, episodes ago, and he he has a background in health care. And he talked about something quite similar in terms of risk management and clinical risk and how actually the reporting of clinical risk isn't about pinning blame. It's about identifying the process, the procedure, where are the gaps? Where do things not, would not work out as they should. And it's interesting that as you were talking, there are definitely similarities within behaviors and relationships, and it doesn't have to be a clinical intervention. It can just be relationships. So there's definitely similarities within that no blame approach.

Radhika [00:28:39]:
No blame, supporting people to speak up, you know, and there has got we we talk about psychological safety, which people think, oh, it's a nice thing to have. No. It's a must have, especially in sectors where, you know, there's a safety and a risk aspect is really high.  Imagine we are going into a surgery and you hear things about how the culture within that or within that theater might be. So there is there is a real need to encourage that speak up and creating that safe space.

Nia Thomas [00:29:36]:
 So tell me what your thoughts are about the role of leadership in, in leading an organization to being anti bullying and towards civility and towards respect?

Radhika [00:29:55]:
So the bullying and harassment is still a significant workplace issue. And this is not just in healthcare. I think this is across all of the different sectors I've worked in. And the way an organization handles issues, it says a lot about its culture and its leaders. Right? Now if every leader understood that every interaction by every leader, every single time matters, it will start to shift the dial towards creating that climate of respect and accountability. So that is the main word. Right? So you may be working really hard to create that climate of respect, but if you do not pin it down with accountability, that's where things start to fall apart slightly from my experience of having trying to do this in organizations. Now a lot of it, like we said, needs to start with self awareness.

Radhika [00:30:51]:
You know? So there is there's a lot of pressure on leaders nowadays that, you know, some of them are working really long hours, heavy workloads across, you know, global domains and, in very challenging work environments. But leaders need to understand the reasons behind the negative behaviors at play within their organization. And as leaders, we may not realize that we are ourselves contributing to a negative workplace experience for others by not doing anything about it. So I think the question is for leaders is how will you become self aware and how will you hold others to account? And also the other thing is for me, the senior leaders need to have a very clear vision and they need to demonstrate those strong values that will communicate what that climate of kindness or a culture of kindness or compassion within their organization, they may be viewed as a weak leader. And, you know, and I challenge that every time it comes up because and I and I explained to them that what it does not mean is that you cannot take hard business driven decisions, you know, which will impact the sort of the, you know, the business bottom line. Or it does not mean that you will avoid a difficult conversation. You will do all of that, but it's just how you do it that matters. And that's where the culture of the organization comes in.

Radhika [00:32:23]:
Also, I think organizations need to do a lot more work about, you know, the values and the attitudes of those they appoint as leaders. So the value fit with the organization is is a much talked about one. And I have I've not seen very strong evidence or in the organizations I work in terms of how they assess this pitch. Right? So is it is it a is it a tick box exercise in most places? There's also something about having a well designed, you know, policy to tackle bullying and harassment in in any organization. It's a it's a good starting point. But understanding how the process will play out and for leaders to take interest in understanding what is the staff experience and what is the impact they they feel by going through a process within their organization is crucial information. And that's something sometimes that gets overlooked in my view. Also, how complaints from employees.

Radhika [00:33:22]:
So whether they were directly at the receiving end of some sort of negative behaviors or or they were, you know, perhaps witnesses or it could even be one of your clients or your patients or anyone. Right? How those complaints are handled will make or break the trust that's placed on that leadership and also the reputation of that organization. Ultimately, I think the the human cost of, you know, sort of the bullying on the staff health and well-being, also the organizational health and the reputation of it is just too great to be ignored. And I think organizations know that. Organizations do know they have to change the climate that exists within their organization. And the only way to do that is by holding, to account every single person who works within that organization. And and, again, for the leaders of today, it's important to understand that the organization's culture is going to be such an important almost a determinant of what your future leadership will do in that organization.

Nia Thomas [00:34:28]:
Yeah. Definitely. Behavior is one of the nine points of my self awareness compass. And so often we come back to, if we're talking about the role of leadership, the role of leaders and leadership is about modeling the behavior that you expect to see in an organization. And you do that through living the values of the organization. And recruitment has got a lot to answer for, because if we're not looking, for, for people who are able to live the values of our organization, we're already starting from a place of, of having, having to climb the hill. That conversation about behaviors is repeated time and time again. Yep.

Nia Thomas [00:35:10]:
So with our shift to more hybrid working, what changes are you seeing in, in relation to civility and respect? Because I've certainly read articles that say, well, people are not together as much anymore, so there is less bullying. So actually, hybrid is good because it helps as an anti bullying measure. Is that what you're seeing?

Radhika [00:35:32]:
So interestingly, I'm since last year, I'm involved in sort of designing a learning program with a university in the Midlands on creating restorative and inclusive organizations. And one of the things that I am looking into, what are our contemporary workplaces like? You know? And this has nothing to do with post COVID or pre COVID, but it just so happens everyone sort of defines that in that sense. But what are the content what what does the modern workplace look like? What are the contemporary challenges? And as a result of what are the trends within that? Where can conflict arise now? Conflict that we've never had to deal with before. So I think what I've found from all the reading I'm doing is that it was complex before and it continues to be complex. Right? It's just the face of what that challenge looks like. It's just different. So but on the positive, I would say in in many of the organizations I've worked with in the last decade, there has been a focus on enhanced employee experience at every touch point. And I'm hugely encouraged by that.

Radhika [00:36:39]:
Whether they get it completely right for everything, that's that's that's a different conversation. In terms of what I'm finding around hybrid working, I think we are certainly in a space where there is an increased reliance on the whole digital communication. So, you know, we're having to create new rules on those, you know, around what are the digital etiquette? How does one practice kindness, respect, or even courtesy in a virtual space? So that's something I remember the first 2020 when all of us moved to virtual space, it was chaotic, but it took time to settle down and it did settle down. And I think sometimes people self organize and create what those new rules or etiquettes are. But also sometimes it can be organizationally driven, which is helpful. The other thing is with the hybrid working, it brings remote working. So this is not just for the individual, but also the challenges for the organization. How do you manage somebody who's a remote worker? The the other challenge is how do you build the trust and the rapport, you know, which you could have if you were in a in an office setting? How would you deal with conflict? You know, where when notes when people are no longer working the more traditional working styles or patterns, which doesn't exist as before? And, also, how do you support people to have difficult conversations in a remote settings? So if if I had someone sitting face to face, I'm not just listening to them, but I'm also observing their nonverbal communications and how how they're feeling, their emotions and all of that, which has become so much harder when you've just got that much on the screen, you know.

Radhika [00:38:20]:
So so so that's something as a practitioner I've had to think more of. But there is adaptive action that can be taken. You know, we just need to be listening to the needs of our employees and asking them how would you like to be supported? So that active listening is required. And once that happens, I think it requires the full, sort of the committed support from the whole organization to then give back to people what they, what you asked, what do you want and what they said they want.

Nia Thomas [00:38:51]:
Absolutely. Lots to think about listeners and watchers. Radhika, before you go, you've recently set up your own company. What are your aims and aspirations for your company? Where do you want to take it in the next 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?

Radhika [00:39:09]:
Right. So I started Activate Culture consulting last year in a small way. Right? So I work for the NHS, but I feel there's so much more I can do with all these ideas, you know, sort of bustling in my head about restorative practices and, supporting organizations culture change. And and it's really just to harness my own passion for this whole restorative practice side of things. What I hope to do is be able to work with really forward thinking organizations that want to become kinder organizations, want to put the focus on learning and become inclusive organizations. Right? And I hope that through that through that work, I'm able to kind of show them that they can ultimately drive their sort of business performance. And, and the inspiration for Activate Culture came from my own years of HR and OD practice, where I could see that organizations that took a more proactive approach to cultivating and enhancing cultural change were able to became more resilient. You know, when we go through sort of the pandemic or, you know, deep upset within the business and so forth.

Radhika [00:40:19]:
And, and the activate culture, I hope the name itself lends into sort of the dynamism and the energy and the positive intent that it can bring to help an organization drive the cultural change. Because I've seen loads of organizations that do the talk, but this is truly about, you know, activating things so that you move from thinking to action. And that's, that's really what I want to do. I just wanna work with lots of interesting organizations with complex problems and see if we can get to the end of it.

Nia Thomas [00:40:52]:
Well, if you're a complex organization and you're looking to become kinder, then you want to get in touch with Radhika. How can people get in touch with you, Radhika?

Radhika [00:41:03]:
So I'm on LinkedIn and happy to drop, a line to you about what that is or my email address. I don't know what's the best way to share that email address, but I'm happy

Nia Thomas [00:41:13]:
to We can put it into the into the show notes if you're happy to share.

Radhika [00:41:16]:
Yeah. Okay. We'll do that.

Nia Thomas [00:41:18]:
Wonderful. So listeners, watchers, if you want to get in touch with Radhika, you can go to the show notes, and you can, access her via LinkedIn and her email address. But for today, thank you so much. I've really enjoyed this conversation. And I could probably stay here for another hour if I, if only we had the time. Radhika Nair, thank you so much for joining

Radhika [00:41:38]:
me. Thank you so much. It's been my honor.

Nia Thomas [00:41:41]:
Thank you for joining me on today's episode where we aim to develop self aware leaders around the globe to generate kinder, more respectful, and creative working relationships through reflection, recognition and regulation. Head over to my website at knowingselfknowingothers.co. Uk to sign up to my newsletter to keep up to date with my blog, podcast and book. Looking forward to having you on my learning journey.

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