57. Building positive organizations and their impact on the future of work | Nicky Garcea, Co-founder of Cappfinity


Nicky Garcea | Co-founder of Cappfinity


This week, we catch up with industrial psychologist and Cappfinity co-founder and Chief Customer Officer, Nicky Garcea. Nicky works with Cappfinity clients globally and heads up the Americas. 
In episode 57 we look at what is a healthy organization and how these organizations go about measuring it. And we look at emerging trends in healthy organizations. 


Nicky Garcea web


Nicky has over 20 years of experience working with global clients. She is a pioneer in recruiting and developing for strengths, and the recruitment and promotion of underrepresented talent. Nicky is a regular keynote speaker on candidate experience and immersive recruitment technology.



[00:00:00] - Nicky Garcea
When employees are able to work using their strengths every day, their engagement will increase.

[00:00:18] - Doug Foulkes
Welcome to episode 57 of The Future of Work, the podcast that looks at every aspect of work in the future. As always, it's brought to you by WNDYR and Pattyrn, and as always, I'm here with Claire Haidar, who is the CEO of WNDYR and Pattyrn. Claire, this is the second part of our conversation with Nicky Garcea, industrial psychologist, who's co-founder and CCO at Cappfinity. What are we delving into today?

[00:00:45] - Claire Haidar
So, Doug, if you look back at our first conversation that we had with her, the whole premise that we went into there was the definition of positive psychology, which is what she and her co-founder have built their business on. The work that they do with companies is taking that school of positive psychology and applying it to building organizations and talent pools. In the second conversation that we're having with her, we actually take a broader look. We zoom out a little bit and we first ask the definition of what is a healthy organization. It's one thing to take and put people's strengths to work.

[00:01:23] - Claire Haidar
But if there isn't a global, unified definition of this is what a healthy organization means, it's actually very hard to go and apply strengths to that, because you need to have that defined version of this is what it means to be healthy in this organization. Therefore, we can take these strengths and apply them to the various roles and jobs that need to be done in order to generate revenue and grow as an organization. What I really liked about how we went down this conversation path with who was we looked at a healthy organization through the various characteristics that make up an abundant organization. But then we also looked at the very important component of healthy organizations, which is performance and how you blend those two together.

[00:02:17] - Claire Haidar
Then very practically, Nicky then took us through some very interesting things that they are seeing in their customers, so what are some customers doing really well that are leading them to become healthier and healthier organizations. Then Nicky also shared some of the things that they're actually doing internally to take a more holistic look at their own organization. Not just looking at their employees through the lens of an engagement survey, but also bringing well-being into that, and so how do you layer those things into an organization to look more holistically at them.

[00:02:56] - Doug Foulkes
Yeah, it certainly was a very practical session. Yeah. Let's get in and listen to it. Nicky. We're going to move the conversation forward and look more specifically at organizations. We're certainly living in an age, where organizations are being reinvented, they're being recreated, they're being built basically from the ground up. What is your professional definition of a healthy, strong organization?

[00:03:19] - Nicky Garcea
I am going to shamelessly borrow some examples of a healthy strong organization. I helped to edit a book some time ago. It was the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work. We were very fortunate. Dave Ulrich went on to compile the forward. A bit like talking about positive psychology's heritage, the forward to this book, Dave Ulrich clustered several things around becoming an abundant organization.

[00:03:49] - Nicky Garcea
I can remember at the time thinking, "Wow, abundance is such a big word." But what he did is he clustered some aspects, which I'll share with you, which I think really could support organizations today to think about how they can be healthy and strong organizations. He mentions organizations that really recognise the work family and help people to have a balance, organizations that genuinely have a community base to them, organizations that have a strong approach to DENI, that are socially responsible, that invest in high performing teams. My favourite is that organizations that have an appreciative inquiry within them, so ones that are willing to look at what is not broken, how can we dream, how can we take those dreams to then create our futures.

[00:04:45] - Nicky Garcea
I think a healthy and strong organization is certainly one that's willing to think about what are some of those aspects of becoming abundant. You might not cover all of those things, but certainly, organizations that are willing to go into some of those areas, I think are going to have a fighting start at being healthy and strong.

[00:05:09] - Claire Haidar
We personally internal to WNDYR. We use Patrick Lencioni's definition of what a healthy organization is. Are you familiar with Patrick Lencioni's work? He wrote the book called The Advantage and essentially lays out. At the heart of peace without unwrapping the whole onion on this podcast, it's an organization who achieves what they've set out to do. It's an organization who actually says they're going to do what they're going to do and they go and they do it.

[00:05:39] - Claire Haidar
Actually, there's a whole lot of layers and foundation that builds up to them being able to do that, a lot of which is covered Interestingly by what you've just shared what an abundant organization is. In your opinion, just your personal professional opinion does performance, is that a very large component of organizational health?

[00:06:02] - Nicky Garcea
It's a great question and probably one that myself and my board would debate often, because performance can have so many angles to it. Interestingly, positive psychology didn't include performance when it originated, and then performance was included as part of the model. We can definitely say performance appears to need to be part of a healthy organization. The reason I call it out is that performance has different meanings to it.

[00:06:36] - Nicky Garcea
If we were to look at, say, sales performance and budgetary performance as one of the key indicators of an organization being successful, there's always an angle of what behaviours do you drive in order to reach that performance goal. I think we have to always be clear that, yes, performance might be key, but there is something about how we go about delivering the performance that's also really important. That's where things like being a high-performing team come in, supporting each other. It's where aspects of would you take hitting your budget over half your workforce leaving because they don't feel like they've got meaning and purpose at work.

[00:07:26] - Nicky Garcea
I think there is always an aspect of how are we going to deliver that performance, and then how sustainable is what we are driving at is going to be over time as well, because you don't want to drive performance and then get to burnout and it not be able to go over years. I think performance has to be unpacked a little bit. Often, you have to be very clear in terms of actually how are we going to work together, thrive together in service of reaching that performance. Now, there'll be some organizations where it's just performance, and they don't mind how many people leave or come or go, but I don't think that's a healthy organization.

[00:08:11] - Claire Haidar
The employer has a responsibility to create that environment. I think the PERMA model that you shared with us is a brilliant way for an employer to show up and create that. But then on the flip side, there is the responsibility of the employee to show up and deliver within that environment. We know from the customers that we've worked with, particularly in the last few years, as we've all been navigating this pandemic together, is that, it's been very challenging for employers to navigate through this with their employees, because drug abuse has gone up, alcohol abuse has gone up, pressures of various forms of home abuse have gone up. Employees have showed up at work in a less healthier state than they were before.

[00:09:07] - Claire Haidar
The PERMA model, if an employer provided that at the outset, almost appeared lacking in many ways, because it wasn't able to bandage over fully the personal issues that each of these individuals brought into the workplace. I know that has been a significantly difficult area for employers to navigate over the last two years.

[00:09:28] - Nicky Garcea
Yeah. I was speaking to an employer just on Friday, conducting a piece of research, where periodically, I speak to heads of talent and just hear thematically what's happening for people. One of the things that they challenged me on was there's so much good advice currently, great questions regarding things like, "How are you really," when you speak to somebody to really, truly understand how that they're coping with the situation?

[00:09:56] - Nicky Garcea
But their point to me was, really at these times, when we're experiencing a global level of exhaustion within our employee groups, sometimes they feel like there's only so much they can do. Again, I was speaking to an author last week, and she was saying, "We have to establish where's it therapy and where is it good leadership and there is a really fine line." But right now, there is so much we still need to do to support people through these times. We're almost running out of ideas of things to do.

[00:10:29] - Nicky Garcea
Because actually, people are at quite a difficult stage in some situations, and particularly, people entering the workforce. We're seeing Gen Z with more mental health problems and well-being issues than ever before. This is a real frontline challenge for people right now to find the right tools and tactics.

[00:10:49] - Claire Haidar
I mean, I can vulnerably, on this podcast, share, as a leader of an organization, it has been really, really challenging over the last few years to navigate that, because, as you say, the author pinned it very well there. There's such a fine line between your judiciary duty to the company to maintain performance, but at the same time knowing that you have the social responsibility to your people where you're having to go over and beyond.

[00:11:20] - Claire Haidar
For the first time, there's this blend of work and personal life that I've never seen in the workplace before. We've had conversations with employees that we've never had before in the last years. I know we're not alone because our customers are going through exactly the same thing. It's very hard to expect an employee to show up with their own PERMA model engagement, positivity, all of those things when they are in the slump that they are.

[00:11:49] - Nicky Garcea
Completely agree.

[00:11:50] - Doug Foulkes
Nicky, I'm going to move things along a little bit. We'd like to try and keep the podcast as practical as possible where we can. You outlined what constitutes healthy or an abundant company, how are the best organizations actually measuring their health today? Has it maybe changed? Have new measurements grown out of the last couple of years out of necessity?

[00:12:13] - Nicky Garcea
Yeah, I'll share a measurement we actually use within Cappfinity, having researched all the different models available to us. We blended both our engagement survey and a well-being survey together. That fusion of putting engagement and well-being side by side is a really, I think, helpful way to ensure that you're getting a pulse check, not just on the employee engagement and some of the hygiene factors that might relate to engagement, but also the critical aspects of well-being. We did this long before the pandemic.

[00:12:53] - Nicky Garcea
But when you think about what people have experienced of late, to now be able to get a side by side read of actually the well-being of the workforce and the engagement of the workforce, it can have a very strong impact. Again, to speak to positive psychology, not just to be working on our people moving into a space of well-being separately, but actually, can we combine people who've got purposeful, meaningful work, but they also are thriving. They are also experiencing greater resilience. I would urge anybody who is not doing that.

[00:13:31] - Nicky Garcea
Of course, there's many different things outside of this that you could also be measuring, particularly, in relation to DENI. I would absolutely encourage the side-by-side measurement of both well-being and engagement, and to do it regularly, and be pulse checking to understand exactly how do you need to move the barometer with your employees at these times to support them.

[00:13:52] - Claire Haidar
Nicky, on a practical level there, I actually love that idea, by the way, and I think, actually, I'm just going to take it and apply it to our org as well.

[00:14:01] - Nicky Garcea
I will send you the model so you can pick.

[00:14:03] - Claire Haidar
That's what I wanted to say.

[00:14:05] - Nicky Garcea
Lift and share. Yeah.

[00:14:07] - Doug Foulkes
So, Nicky, just to finish off on this section, again, practically, could you share with us maybe three top trends that you've seen in the organizations that you've worked with that are leading the healthier organization category, if you like?

[00:14:23] - Nicky Garcea
One of the first trends I'm going to speak to, and this relates to how managers are leading great organizations and particularly healthy organizations. This is to do with, first of all, managers really knowing the individuals that they're working with, but not just knowing them in the sense, "Hi, Doug, we work together," but what makes them tick, what motivates them, how are they feeling at the moment?

[00:14:52] - Nicky Garcea
The next bit relates to the objectives that that individual wants to achieve, so getting into really good conversations about actually what lateral moves might you want to go through, what ambitions do you have, and where possible, knowing that individual strength, so we can align the strengths to those objectives. Then the final bit is really understanding the true aspirations that the individual has and being able to offer support and guidance in order to help them achieve those.

[00:15:25] - Nicky Garcea
One of the things at these times, and I hate to put everything on to the manager, but I think that the quality of manager relationship will buffer or not buffer what's happening with the great realignment. At an organizational level, I think we need to support managers and really give them as much help as we can, because I think they're really key to helping provide good, healthy relationships that are going to sustain over time.

[00:15:55] - Nicky Garcea
The other thing at a team level, and again, I try and practice this within my own team at Cappfinity, is what rituals, now, when we can't be in person, are we able to start creating together? We used to be all about some teams might have met and they might have always had dinner together or lunch together on a Friday. Well, perhaps you can't do that now because you don't have an office space.

[00:16:21] - Nicky Garcea
What are the rituals that you can put in place that are still going to be powerful even though you're working virtually? Within my team, it can be fun things that we start every single Zoom meeting with. The other thing that we do is open a session early, five minutes early, chit chat, water cooler conversations. They've all dropped off the radar. We need those times, where we're just able to talk, so simple things that you can do at that team level.

[00:16:49] - Nicky Garcea
Then at an organizational level, it's very much are there leaders who are prepared to really stand up for things like culture and engagement well-being at these times? I referenced the research that I've been part of over the last two years. Those organizations, where people are not leaving to the same velocity, somebody on the board owns well-being, and they champion it, and they talk about it, and they are really leading from the front.

[00:17:18] - Nicky Garcea
I think there are things we can do, manager a team, organization that are relatively, I'm going to say simple. I know it's hard, but are things that we can be doing right now to help the health of the organization.

[00:17:30] - Doug Foulkes
That is what we've got for you today. Nicky shares her time between the US and the UK, and so she has great insights into business on both sides of the Atlantic. If you've missed the first part of our conversation with Nicky, check it out on Spotify, Google, or Apple podcasts, or on WNDYR's website, W-N-D-Y-R.com. We'll conclude our chat with Nicky shortly. From Claire and myself, we'll see you soon.

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