Assess Your Organization's Health in a Way That Will Surprise You…

As a leadership coach, corporate educator, and employee wellness expert,  much of my time is dedicated to helping organizations, and the people in them, to become healthier, happier, and more productive. But what does that actually mean?

Whether you're talking about people or workplaces, 'health' is a measure of so many things. The World Health Organization defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.’ Health relates therefore to infinite positives, not just to the absence of a negative. It is, by definition, difficult to define.

As an avid yogi and Ayurveda expert, I consider the Chakras (energy centers situated throughout the body) an avenue to assess an individual’s health and well-being. Perhaps the health of an organization can also be assessed through the lens of the Chakras also. 

Having spent more than a decade studying these powerful vortexes of energy, I truly believe the chakras can provide a powerful lens to assess organizational culture, improve employee commitment, and help your organization be a healthier and happier place to work.

What are the Chakras?

In Sanskrit, the word ‘Chakra’ translates to a wheel or disk.  In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body.

There are seven main chakras — aligning to the spine — beginning at the base of the spine and tracking all the way up to the crown of the head.  Because Chakras are subtle fields of energy, you cannot see them through an x-ray but you can visualize them as swirling wheels of energy all associated with different colors and sounds

The first three chakras are more physical in nature, and focus on basic survival…

  • The First Chakra (in Sanskrit: Muladhara) addresses our sense of stability, security and our basic needs.  When this Chakra is open, we feel safe and fearless. This is also referred to as our physiological needs from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The First Chakra is located at the base of the spine.   
  • The Second Chakra (In Sanskrit: Svadhisthana) addresses our creativity and sexual center.  It is responsible for our creative expression.  The Second Chakra is located a few inches above the base close to the pelvic area.
  • The Third Chakra (In Sanskrit: Manipura) literally translates to lustrous gem and is our source of personal power.  This energy center houses our motivation, ambition, and drive to succeed.  The Third Chakra is located at the naval.

The fourth Chakra connects the first three to the last three…

  • The Fourth Chakra (In Sanskrit: Anahata) is at the middle of the seven and unites the lower three chakras to the upper chakras of the spirit.  The fourth serves as the bridge between our body, mind, emotions, and spirit.  It is considered the Heart Chakra and it is our source of love and connection to ourselves and to others. 

The last three Chakras are more spiritual in nature…

  • The Fifth Chakra (In Sanskrit: Vishuddha) is our source of verbal expression and the ability to speak our truth.  It is associated with communication.  When this Chakra is open, we are able to communicate our highest truth.  When blocked, it could contribute to the inability speak to others, establish boundaries, and to live in harmony with ourselves. The Fifth Chakra is located near the throat.
  • The Sixth Chakra (In Sanskrit: Ajna) is commonly referred to our ‘third eye.’ It is the home of our intuition and is located between the eyebrows.
  • The Seventh Chakra (In Sanskrit: Sahaswara) is known as the ‘thousand petal lotus’ and is responsible for our spiritual connection to our higher selves, others and our divine creator. This Chakra is located at the crown of the head.  

The Chakras and Employee Commitment

Lying in Savasana (final resting pose) in one of my most recent yoga practices, I had a surge of insight. Suddenly, a bridge between my two worlds of Yoga/Ayurveda and Organizational Psychology came to the forefront of my mind.

In my work with individuals and teams, I see both evolved organizations and those that are not quite hitting the mark when it comes to employee commitment. 

Can the Chakras be used to explain the difference between the organizations that are aligned and in synch with their employees verses companies that are struggling to retain their talent?

When Employee Commitment is Lacking, Your Organization is 'Stuck'

The bottom three chakras (those focused on our basic survival) might be considered in organizational life as Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors.  According to Herzberg, hygiene factors are those job factors that are essential but do not lead to long-term satisfaction. This might include pay, company policies and procedures, titles, that sort of thing.

I’m sure you can reflect back to a place you’ve worked, where you had a decent salary, policies and procedures in place, a safe working environment, and yet something was missing. I've felt that way numerous times.

It was because the basics were just not enough!

Just as the energy shifts back and forth in the bottom three survival Chakras, organizations may play around with the compensation structure or perhaps add more healthy snacks in the kitchen BUT it’s just not enough.

If you cannot create committed employees, your organization may be energetically stuck.

How to become ‘Unstuck’? 

As the leader of your organization or manager of a team, you may not realize that most employees are doing a second job and they are not being paid for it. It’s what Nextjump refers to Lying, Hiding, and Faking.

Most employees are spending their time and energy covering up weaknesses, playing politics, hiding their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties, and hiding their limitations. According to Nextjump, it’s the single biggest loss of resources that organizations suffer everyday. These are organizations that are stuck in the lower three Chakras. 

One way to become unstuck is to move into a more resourceful state- YOUR HEART!

The larger the organization, the greater the likelihood that employees could potentially feel like just another number.  One way to tap into a more resourceful state is to look at your employees not as objects but as human beings. Seeing yourselves in others and remembering that you and everyone around you is doing the best they can in each and every moment allows you to tap into a more compassionate, resourceful state. 

Tapping into this place of love and acceptance, being aware that you and your team are doing the best they can in each and every moment, allows us to break through the stagnant energy and get past the Hygiene Factors.

How Do Organizations Become Enlightened?

In the Chakra system, as we move into the fifth, sixth, and seventh Chakra, we start to move into a more spiritually evolved state of being. What are organizations that operate in a more spiritually evolved space doing different than those that are energetically stuck?

Here are three things you can do to move your organization forward:

1. Eliminate the need for lying, hiding, and faking  (aka LHF, or Imposter Syndrome)

Nextjump has brilliantly employed a no LHF policy.  According to neuroscience research, it takes twice as much effort to lie than to tell the truth. When we are busy trying to look good or worried about being judged, we are in essence lying about what we do not know, consuming time and energy throughout the day. According to Meghan Messenger, Co-CEO of Nextjump, you cannot get feedback if you project you know what you are doing (i.e. faking). Meghan explains three ways to incorporate a no LHF Policy through a three-step process: Listen, Internalize, Operationalize.    

2. Accept vulnerability & embed psychological safety in the culture

Psychological Safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. Being judged is not a good feeling and takes an emotional, physical and mental toll.  How do you organizationally eliminate judgment?  Allow for people to make mistakes and not be reprimanded for them. Creating a safe space of vulnerability is the first place to start. The best way to do anything is to practice. Practice being vulnerable each and everyday at work with someone you trust and allow for error to be a form of feedback.  I recently began my NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) Coaching Certification program, and was reminded  that ‘There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.”

3. Understand, embody and communicate your 'Why'

Imagine an organization comprised of individuals that know, accept and embrace their why? According to Simon Sinek, understanding your organizational WHY is crucial for success.  If your organization has a clear picture of its why, you can hire individuals that embody the organization’s larger purpose.  When individuals understand their piece in the puzzle, they are more likely to commit to the organization. They feel engaged and intrinsically motivated to perform at their optimal level.

Moving from unstuck to a more resourceful energetic state could be the key to organizational success.  The Chakra System is a powerful way to assess an organization’s well being. I’m so grateful to have had a moment of complete awareness in my Yoga practice to draw the parallels.

Have you worked towards and succeeded in improving your organization's health? How did you approach it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.