Episode 5: Understanding and Practicing Openness in the Workplace

Michelle:

Thank you for joining episode 5 of your Reboot Program. We designed these short learning episodes to help frontliners prepare for the day we open our doors to customers again. This episode focuses on another important value which is Openness and how it helps us foster better teamwork.

In this episode, Gabe Baradi will help us understand what Openness means in service and how we can apply it in our personal and professional lives. 

Gabe:

In our past episodes, we talked about how having the growth mindset, humility, and empathy can help us prepare to get back to work. Another necessary ingredient in developing the growth mindset, which  complements humility and empathy, is Openness. Openness can be defined as being receptive to new attitudes, ideas and opportunities that may be outside our comfort zone, but we allow ourselves to experience these with no judgment or bias.

Why is openness important in developing a growth mindset? Being open to people and experiences allow us to stay curious and consider alternatives you otherwise would not have seen with a fixed mindset. 

Openness allows us to find more solutions to the challenges we face, because we go beyond what we are used to. 

We often hear this quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Openness would lead us to try different things in order to solve the challenges we are faced with, instead of doing the same thing over and over again with no outcome.

Why is this important? When we go back to work to serve our customers again, there will be new challenges that will result from the “new normal”. We cannot really predict what these are, but we can prepare ourselves to have the growth mindset /to be able to face any challenge that comes our way. Here are the 4 ways we can practice Openness to prepare us for our Day One at work: 

  1. Encourage your curiosity and creativity. Being open leads you to try new things. You exercise being open by being curious about the world around you. Studies have shown that exercising our curiosity and creativity leads to positive thoughts and better well-being. It also keeps our brains active and able to respond to challenges better. 

    What do we mean by curiosity? It means we are interested to know more about what we are observing around us and we would like to understand beyond what we are seeing or hearing. 

    During the current quarantine, you may want to try out a new hobby or activity that you have been meaning to do/ but did not have the time before.
    It might be a free online game that requires you to solve puzzles or videos that introduce a new hobby like learning new recipes, writing, planting crops or learning how to recycle household objects into useful works of art.

    There are many resources like this REBOOT program that you are watching that you can use for your learning. Being curious is going online and reading more articles about Empathy, Humility and the Growth Mindset. Your curiosity to learn more will lead you to find so many free resources online. Look for videos on customer service, effective selling, communication, aside from the topics we have covered so far in your Reboot program.

    Talk to your colleagues about how they spend their leisurely breaks, or what shows they watch. Try out some of their recommendations that may be different from what you normally like. If it turns out you don’t like the show, you are not forced to finish it and please do not judge the preferences of your colleagues. What we focus on is to celebrate is that you tried something new as a result of being curious about your colleagues’ interests.

    When we open our doors to customers again after the quarantine, observe closely the changing needs of our customers. Observe the items they are choosing to buy, the amount of money they are willing to spend, and the kinds of deals or promotions that they find valuable. If you are curious, don’t stop with observing silently, speak with them and ask questions. When you have a sincere desire to help your customers find what they need, you do not wait for them to tell you what they need, you become proactive in asking them questions. Between the two of you, you are the expert in your store, and you are the best person to help that customer in front of you. By being proactive in asking questions to understand their needs, the customer sees you as being helpful and sincerely interested in serving them. When customers feel this, they feel valued and they will always prefer the kind of service you provide compared to other places. This is how being curious can lead us to help the business recover faster and rebuild relationships with customers again. 
     
  2. Be receptive to new ideas. Humans are creatures of habit, and this may sometimes lead us to find it difficult to be flexible with our routines. Your colleague may have an idea about how to improve something you do at work. Instead of becoming defensive and feeling like their suggestion makes them appear better than you, or threatens your position in the company, please take a moment to understand the situation first. There are two possible reactions you can have – one is to feel threatened and have negative thoughts about the person and their idea, or to have the openness to see the idea for what it is and how it can help the team and the company, and separate this from your personal feelings. Separate the ideas from the personalities involved, your colleague and yourself. 
    Now is the time to think first of what is good for the entire team. Competing with each other is not going to help us keep our jobs because it means we are creating gaps between us, when we should be working closely. When there is teamwork, there is trust that each one of us is thinking of what is best for everyone. This is the time when you will observe the growth mindset expanding across the team. Someone has to make the first step. Why don’t you challenge yourself to be that person?
     
  3. Embrace feedback. Many frontliners struggle with the word “feedback”. The instant they hear the word, they immediately think it means negative feedback. Feedback is actually a positive word because it is given so both parties, the receiver and the giver, can grow as a result. If someone cares about your growth at work, that person will help you through constructive feedback, this is the kind of feedback that helps us understand where we are now, and we are motivated to improve for the better. If our work environment makes us feel safe, and we trust each other in the team, people should not be afraid to give and receive feedback from one another. The fixed mindset will not embrace feedback, while someone with the growth mindset will seek feedback. By understanding how to give and receive feedback, we can communicate effectively and take action faster. Can you imagine what kind of results you and your team will achieve if you are constantly exchanging new ideas, giving feedback on those ideas, and working on the solutions together? Your store will succeed faster when you work together. 

    We will talk about feedback more in the future episodes, but please reflect on your past experiences receiving feedback. Were they constructive or not? If they were not, that gives you an idea on how to give feedback that motivates a person to grow instead of making the person lose their confidence to do better.
     
  4. Seek progress and not perfection. Like a lot of people, we are afraid of making mistakes at work. This leads us to sometimes fall into the trap to avoid failure by not doing anything at all. We may have spent many years at school learning that it is a bad thing to fail. 
    But in today’s changing world, not taking action is the worst thing to do. We need to keep taking action and improving along the way. Our goal is to see progress every time we try. There are no perfect solutions, and success comes from not giving up, no matter how many times we try because we keep learning as we keep trying. There will be businesses who will not survive this crisis and they will not be able to open their stores anymore, but for many of you who will find work or currently still have work and will start serving customers again soon, always remember that every day we get to go to work is an opportunity to do better, and doing better each time is what progress means.

    It is not easy to develop Openness. It happens in an atmosphere of trust and respect. If you do not feel safe around the people you work with, it is harder to change your old routine for fear of being ridiculed or punished. This fear only lives inside our heads, you can choose to let the fear grow bigger and take over you or overcome it by promoting trust and respect in your team. Remember that it takes time and effort to be open, but it can be done if you make the decision to develop it now. Take a few minutes to reflect on how you can practice Openness while at home and in your interaction with your colleagues. The first battle you need to win is the one that is in your head now. 

See you in our next episode. 

Michelle:

We would like to end this episode with a few questions to help you practice what Gabe shared with us: 

  • Is there anything you see online that is making you curious to try something new or learn more about? Hold on to that interest. Follow that curiosity, it’s the first step to developing openness.
  • Are you the type of person who shares ideas openly or are you most of the time feeling shy to speak up in front of the team? If you used to find it difficult to share your thoughts or ideas with your team, take a moment to reflect on what blocks you from doing so. Is it your manager? Is it any of your co-workers or is it the fear that you feel inside? 
  • Do you remember receiving feedback that made you feel bad? If yes, please do your best to remember what was said to you and rephrase it in a constructive way, such that if you were to give someone that same feedback, the person would feel motivated and empowered instead.

Openness is such an important value in service and in our lives. When we allow ourselves to develop this, we are able to grow in our thoughts, in our feelings and in the words we speak and the actions we do. It is not easy and that is why have this time to practice applying it. 

If you have questions about today’s episode, we would love to hear from you. Please click the link and share your thoughts or questions with us and we will answer them in the future episodes. Thank you for joining.