Person-Centered Thinking: Bringing Your Whole Self to Work


In the contemporary workplace, the narrative is shifting from mere productivity and output to creating environments where employees not only excel but also feel genuinely valued. A major catalyst for this positive shift is the adoption of person-centered thinking. Rooted in the belief that every individual is valuable and unique, person-centered thinking fosters an environment where employees can bring their whole self to work. But what does this mean, and why is it so crucial?

Understanding “Bringing Your Whole Self to Work”

The phrase “bringing your whole self to work” refers to an environment where employees feel comfortable being authentic, without the fear of judgment or repercussion. This means not only sharing professional skills and knowledge but also personal experiences, feelings, beliefs, and identities.

How Person-Centered Thinking Fosters Such an Environment:

  1. Valuing Individuality: At its core, person-centered thinking celebrates the uniqueness of each individual. When organizations adopt this approach, employees inherently feel that their individual differences are not just tolerated but actively celebrated. Honor this individuality by inviting employees to create and share a one-page profile (description) that describes what others appreciate about them, what’s important to them, and what they need to do their best work.
  1. Open Communication: Person-centered thinking promotes open dialogue and transparent communication. This creates avenues for employees to voice their ideas, concerns, or even personal stories, knowing they will be heard and respected. Make time for sharing personal histories. Use person-centered skills such as Working/Not Working to respectfully discuss challenging situations.
  1. Emphasizing Well-being: By focusing on the person, organizations inherently prioritize the well-being of their employees. This includes mental, emotional, and physical well-being, ensuring employees feel cared for in all aspects of their life. Introduce mindfulness practices at team meetings and make self-care a priority.
  1. Encouraging Empathy and Compassion: This approach fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of others. Teams learn to see past job titles or roles and recognize the multifaceted individuals behind them. Learn 15 compassion practices using principles from nonviolent communication.
  1. Flexibility: Recognizing that everyone’s circumstances and needs are different, person-centered workplaces often provide more flexible work arrangements, ensuring everyone can work in a manner that suits them best. Try floating personal holidays in lieu of traditional federal holidays. This makes it possible for employees to observe traditions that are an important part of their culture and identity.

Benefits of a Person-Centered Workplace:

  1. Increased Engagement: Employees are more engaged when they feel valued and understood. This often translates into enhanced productivity and creativity.
  1. Reduced Turnover: When employees feel they can be authentic at work, they’re less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.
  1. Diverse Perspectives: Embracing different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences means a richer pool of ideas and solutions.
  1. Improved Team Dynamics: With mutual respect and understanding, team conflicts decrease, and collaboration becomes more effective.

Creating a Person-Centered Environment:

  1. Leadership Training: Equip leaders with training on empathy, active listening, and other soft skills crucial for person-centered management.
  1. Inclusive Policies: Adopt and communicate policies that emphasize inclusivity, be it regarding race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other aspect.
  1. Regular Feedback: Allow employees to voice their opinions about the workplace environment and act upon constructive feedback.
  1. Promote Work-Life Balance: Understand that employees have lives outside of work and respect the need for a balance.

In summary, person-centered thinking transforms workplaces from mere places of employment to thriving communities where each member feels acknowledged, understood, and integral. By creating an environment where employees can bring their whole self to work, organizations not only enhance individual well-being but also benefit from the rich tapestry of diverse experiences and ideas that such authenticity brings. Learn how to implement all of these practices and more in our new program, Leading Person-Centered Change.  Email me for details.