Sole Landscapes & The Emotional Culture Deck

"I never would have expected to have operational procedures based on emotions. That was because we decide to put our people first and what they wanted to do and that came about organically from the process we went through using The Emotional Culture Deck." – Jono Sole, Managing Director Sole Landscapes.

Watch the full F-word Conversation below with Jono Sole and learn about his journey to build a high--performing and human culture built from emotions up.

Last year Sole Landscapes experienced a significant period of growth. They quickly identified they needed something to help them improve and solidify their culture.

"Our goal was to understand more about what we're about and how we can continue to develop our people. After the first day with The ECD it was immediately apparent we made the right decision to begin our journey with The ECD. It was a really rewarding day and was extremely beneficial, and the flow-on effects from what we started were so great for us."

Jono wanted a way to give his people the courage and the skills to have confronting and vulnerable conversations but also be empathetic of people's situations. He said The ECD was the method to assist people with this and give them the confidence to have these conversations no matter who it was with.

"By the end of the first day with The ECD, after some initial scepticism was quickly overcome, everyone had opened up and had a chance to contribute to what they wanted to achieve and to define our team culture." Jono said there "was a significant and healthy debate which they'd never had before. It was rewarding to see this, to reconnect and validate that everyone was on the same page, but with differing opinions. 

Jono's leadership has evolved through this journey to help his team express themselves and build their emotional culture.

"Having gone through the first ECD workshop and subsequent work with the game, it made me really appreciate that everyone has their own life story, and I was more curious about what they were feeling and what I can do to help support them not only at work but also way from work and how I can help them find joy in their work here. It's given me more tools I can use outside of work with my family too." 

Jono has noticed some big changes within his team. There is a willingness to have more confronting conversations. Although he's still realistic that there's a long way to go with that which will forever be a work in progress. But the biggest change they've noticed is the increased levels of empathy from his team. Previously people might have flown off the handle when people's challenges would crop up, or they would suppress how they were feeling. But he's noticed the amount of self-reflection and constructive conversations have increased between team members. 

A surprising yet powerful by-product of the work Sole Landscapes has done investing in the emotional culture of their team is the systems and rituals that reinforce their desired culture. These rituals now help shape and reinforce the behaviours that set the tone for the culture of the business. These rituals have become simple but intentional moments of connection that they didn't have in place before the work with The ECD. 

The biggest challenge Sole Landscapes faces is ensuring its people stay engaged and motivated (in the face of some challenging working conditions (due to Wellington's wild weather conditions). We're acutely aware of this challenge and know we need to be proactive and progressive in the tools we use, and the rituals we create to ensure the enjoyment and satisfaction of our people. 

"It is easy to look at the bad days and feel caught up and be swamped by them, but you have to celebrate and make sure the good days are celebrated too. We tend to ensure everyone is well rewarded for the good days."

Jono says the biggest challenge for people generally embracing emotions at work is just getting started.

"I've found as soon as the conversations about emotion start, it only gets easier. That was why we struggled for a while because people struggled to open up and have these conversations. Now our people are much more willing to start them. If you're going to invest in your people and begin to work on your emotional culture, it's important to have that courage and make sure your people are empowered to have those conversations."

Learn more about Sole Landscapes business here: 


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