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Wellbeing: how to define your culture and operating heartbeat

Published on 28 September 2022

Wellbeing: how to define your culture and operating heartbeat

Any operating model needs embedding, and this is about culture and habit (‘how we do things here’). More urgently, if home or hybrid working is part of your model, you will need to enable teamwork and creativity in new ways and build a better digital workplace. Now is the moment for that. So how will you blend ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ considerations to embed the new culture? Are you clear what you are responsible for and what each colleague needs to own for themselves?

Appreciation is personal

Recognition and personal connection are true signs of a great operational culture and this needs to be integral to our operating models, like a strong heartbeat rhythm, not an after-thought. It can be tricky to navigate. On the one hand appreciation needs to feel personal, not the result of a policy or process. I remember during the pandemic, how much handwritten cards meant to some people at key moments. They worked partly because they were a contrast to the remote, virtual world of lockdown, but also because they were recognised as genuine, ‘from the heart’. On the other hand, in practice, time needs to be made for this. We need to ensure no-one is missed out. Also, for some team leaders or managers it just won’t come naturally. The fact is that we are made very differently when it comes to styles of communication and what we each value. The list could go on, but here are some questions to get you going.

  • Do you find appreciation more challenging with home or hybrid operations? Where could you go to find good role models of fresh thinking?
  • What rhythms or habits have worked in previous models, bringing things to our awareness for which we could be appreciative? How do we need to adapt them to this new world?

Wellbeing and mental health

While wellbeing is a personal responsibility of each individual, we also have some specific accountabilities as leaders, planners, analysts, trainers, or coaches and it’s good to have a clear focus on what these are. The checklist from MIND is a great place to start. We need to help people feel connected (with people and purpose), build habits of physical activity into the working day, learn new skills, and explore new opportunities. It is possible to create a culture which makes people thankful to others and mindful of the here and now. Technology can now support in providing personal analytics which can be used to understand feelings and patterns in mood. Think of this as the Fitbit for our feelings.

  • Which parts of the MIND checklist most inspire you to take some new action?
  • How can new recruits build bonds with experienced colleagues?
  • How can teams work together to help each member put everyday challenges into a wider context?

Opportunities for development

Learning needs to be continuous, aiming to improve every day. Don’t just focus on training, process changes, product updates or system changes. Learning needs to be a mixture of directed (need to know) along with self-directed (inspirational and personally rewarding). Take a look at the article in chapter 1. To support this, we need a framework which captures the learning journey, providing direction and recognising progression. There is a strong link between personal development and wellbeing, so make it easy for people to access learning. Chart clear links to key aspects of your operating model.

  • How do we integrate this into our regular operating heartbeat? And breathe life into our desired operational culture?
  • How much is development a genuine priority currently? Why is it important in your new model?

Performance & coaching culture

How do we measure performance, in a way that supports development? A positive culture helps people to be open about mistakes and see failures as opportunities to learn. Coaching and mentoring are everyday experiences. Data drives understanding which can be acted upon to improve. It’s not used to shame, destroy confidence or dwell on mistakes. In a new operating model, how will you recognise the contribution of each person and role? Will you need a next generation of metrics? Stay away from a narrow focus on single metrics in isolation.

  • What drives success in your operating model? How do you translate this to each role?
  • Can you distinguish diagnostic measures from targets or planning assumptions?
  • How could these enable continuous improvement and a coaching culture?
  • Are you making the most of the diversity of ideas available?


Embedding a new operating model is complex and ever changing, with no magic formula. No one size fits all! Hence your approach will need to evolve and develop. If nothing changes, you are stagnating. Please consider this framework and how you could use this, or something similar, to draw together the ideas from within your organisation, as well as from outside your business. Two final thoughts to end with. Firstly, as new operating models are firmed up, post-pandemic, take the chance to re-introduce everyone to this as a new way of working. We all need an induction; this is about stopping old ways and setting new standards. Your good work will be undermined if people and teams revert back to old habits. Secondly, what you start now will evolve over time. So, keep an open mind, and keep speaking to people. Their views and circumstance will change over time, and you want them to be transparent.

Author: Phil Anderson

This article was first published in the 2022 Best Practice Guide - You Moment of Truth: Confident to Succeed

To download a full digital copy of the Best Practice Guide, click here

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