How can we enable employees to reach their fullest potential?

How can we enable employees to reach their fullest potential and create a space in which a working community can thrive?A talk with Floor Martens

How can you create a space for the community you describe?

"In order to reach a community like this, the first necessary step usually involves building trust between the employees and their employers. Trust is needed to enable the development of a real, lasting cultural change in which appreciation is key.

When you feel you can trust your colleagues and you feel appreciated, even if you make ‘mistakes’, a space for working in communities instead of strict hierarchies and/or bureaucracies can arise. Working in communities seems new for a lot of people, although they seem to do it often in their private lives! Think about organizing parties together or team sporting events. Implementing a new way of working has to walk hand in hand with experiencing this new way. Working on practical ‘new ways of working’ cases together and doing role play helps to overcome the fear of change. They can feel safe and at the same time work on empowering themselves in their new roles.

In a lot of organizations I still see a lack of sharing information. Employees are still keeping knowledge to themselves, because they fear that they could lose their power and position. They don’t realize yet that a sharing community will make them, their team and organization stronger.”

 What first step should CEOs and managers take to create a better company culture?

“First of all, they should start connecting with their employees with an open mind and open heart. This will make the employees feel heard and seen, understood and valued for their contributions. This will create a space for a community. Research has proven that effective communities accelerate an organization’s potential, by connecting people in ways that increase their knowledge, trust and innovation. In my opinion the following principles help in creating those communities: make it small – build trust – set a goal – follow your heart – discover your strength – keep learning – create space – dare to ask – extend your network – give selflessly.”

Which valuable methods would you recommend?

“I believe that Theory U is a powerful tool to build a culture of understanding.  I have used the principles under this theory in my work and have seen positive results. It starts with looking at the past, seeing old patterns and then creating the possibility of seeing and feeling and eventually creating the ‘new’. This might seem a bit vague, but there are real practical exercises which enable participants to experience and see the ‘new’ rather quick. It helps you to consciously act in order to unfold your inner potential of understanding and action. It believes that the results that we create are a function of the awareness, attention, or consciousness of the participants in the system".

 How do you apply these concepts in your work?

“My goal is always to create a space in which people can reach their fullest potential. Practical Theory U dialogue techniques, creative brainstorm tools, personality tests, playful meetups in order to connect, as well as online collaboration tools help me make communities go, grow and flow!  I used those concepts in projects I have done, like building a network of digital experts for the Dutch national government, a new way of working vision for a University and an HR strategy for a Berlin start-up. In the last months I have been working on building an international community for people who want to use Theory U in practice and have organized an international event for this community in Berlin. Last week I started working for the Consciousness Network. This network exists to facilitate the work of people in the field of consciousness.”

Author profile:

Floor is a key member of forward thinking Berlin-based groups that tackle employee-organization issues by applying innovative perspectives to their practices. Connect with her through her website Floorish. Find more information on Theory U on the website of the Presencing Institute