Much of the work we do centres around senior leadership teams, many of whom have years of working experience. In culture change, this is invaluable: leadership by example is key to embedding behaviours in support of exceptional performance.
In recent months we have worked with the leadership team at Edinburgh Napier University. A major focus area for the team is student welfare – in particular, building student resilience. Students today face multiple challenges, in particular: higher study costs, competitive job markets, financial pressures, balancing work and study, the transition to independent living, and sometimes isolation. Delivering parts of our Bank of Me programme to students across a variety of faculties was a fascinating experience. The young people’s energy and participation was outstanding.
We focused on building emotional resilience, providing students with tools to help them cope in the face of these challenges. The conversations we had made me reflect on my own experiences working in the corporate world. I recall how, even at the tender age of 20, my attitude towards anyone taking a break during the working day was one of consternation. Didn’t they have enough work to do, or were they just lazy? Seeing the students’ response to the session was highly rewarding.
Building high-performance behaviours from the start
Senior members of an organisation have a clear role to play in establishing a culture for sustainable high performance. However, organisations must also establish supportive behaviours early-on so that, as people grow and move, behaviours are embedded and natural.
Equipping people in this way, early on in their careers – and even before they start work – makes them more resilient, happier and more able to cope with life’s challenges as they, in turn, become more senior. Perhaps that’s why we are seeing an increasing demand for programmes and support aimed at these groups of people.
Over the coming year, we will continue to work with teams throughout Edinburgh Napier University as they further embed these behaviours across the organisation creating a culture of resilience and hence exceptional performance.