Why hire a psychologist in a company

Katarzyna Lawera

The new management paradigms that have recently begun to pave the way in companies have introduced a more human approach to so-called “human resources”. Gradually, the employee is no longer seen as a resource but simply a human being, with all their abilities, limitations, needs and emotions. However, with this approach comes a significant challenge. It is no longer possible to manage according to the former model. An Individualisation of the perception of the employee requires individualisation of the approach.

Go beyond benefits

What has worked so far, i.e. programmes, benefits and anything else that was supposed to motivate everyone, is doomed to fail in this new model. Employees who want to work in the new model have different needs and expectations.

What we need now as employers and leaders is attentiveness. This is one of those soft skills that has been forgotten in the Management by Objectives paradigm. Now, there is a growing recognition of the need for attentiveness to spot changes, recognise needs, sense directions and take more relevant and appropriate action.

Attentiveness also implies a different kind of approach to the employee. It focuses on their needs and how to support their cooperation with the team, help them develop their talents, and use these talents to draw a sense of meaning and fulfilment from their work. It is already a truism to say that a happy employee is more productive and brings more value.

Instead, the question is how to do it, because certainly not through large-scale programmes.

Who will build my engagement?

Engagement depends on many different factors, which in addition have different values for individuals. Apart from such apparent elements as work tools or understanding expectations, there are many more subtle factors such as the atmosphere at work, the type of relations between colleagues, the culture in the company, the values of colleagues, etc.

To effectively build work engagement and a sense of purpose, one needs to reverse one’s thinking. It is not only the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is fulfilled at work. The employer can create space for different kinds of activities and support ideas and initiatives, knowing how important they can be for building engagement. But in this new management paradigm, the time has come for employee responsibility. We ourselves are responsible for what we do to improve our sense of meaning and satisfaction, how we take advantage of the opportunities our employer gives us and how committed we are to adapting our work to our needs and abilities (see job crafting).

Here we come to the role a psychologist can play in a company.

Rubber duck

Above all, the psychologist supports everyone.

They support management in defining goals, visions and ways of achieving them, which translates into a clear picture of where we are heading. This is the basis for employees to understand their place in the company and one of the essential elements of building commitment.

Support for leaders is about helping them recognise their role model and how to deliver it in a way that takes individual characteristics into account. In addition, explaining certain psychological mechanisms helps leaders better understand their co-workers and recognise their needs, resulting in better communication and more effective collaboration. The psychologist helps find the best way to interact and use their strengths.

For each of the employees, the psychologist with their expertise, supported by the skills of a coach or trainer, can be the person who helps them in finding their own way, personal values and answers to essential questions All this is in order to know how one wants to work, to find more fulfilment and a sense of meaning – just simple joy and satisfaction. The psychologist supports the process of developing self-awareness, so necessary to take responsibility for one’s development, work, life.

Coaching for individuals and whole teams facilitates the search for solutions to emerging problems.

It may seem strange to some that you can support problem-solving or strategy building without complex, factual knowledge. Yet so it is. Psychologists and programmers have known this phenomenon for a long time. Programmers refer to it as the rubber duck debugging method, and psychologists base all outreach efforts on it.

The idea is that when you have a problem to solve, you (in the case of programmers) start talking to a rubber duck (for lack of a better listener), and it often happens that just by talking, you discover the solution.

This is no magic, just a mechanism of the brain. When our mind hears information from outside, even information that has already been processed many times, it starts to organise and arrange it differently. This process often results in a new solution. This is why a psychologist can support employees, even if they do not have the technical knowledge, in finding the best solutions for them. Besides listening carefully (that can do a rubber duck), they can show the situation from a different perspective and ask helpful questions, allowing employees to see things they hadn’t paid attention to before.

As you can see, psychology has, over the years, built up a strong relationship with business at the level of theory. Now it’s finally time to put it into practice and use all this wisdom in daily activities tailored to the individual needs of the employee and employer.

Why does an employee need a psychologist?

Companies have been outdoing themselves in inventing ways to maintain work-life balance for a long time. With the emergence of a new management paradigm, a different trend is increasingly visible in this area. It is especially significant for the younger generation.

The new approach assumes that work is no longer a separate piece of our life, but our whole life manifests itself in all areas of our activity. As a result, we look for fulfilment and a sense of purpose at work. We want to realise our values, talents, and everything important to us. Not only goals but also relations and ways of achieving them are becoming essential.

Suppose we want to work in a new paradigm that emphasises individuality, trust and employee freedom in achieving goals (and this is the case in our company). In that case, we have to accept that we have more responsibility as employees. This new working model gives us a sense of greater freedom and empowerment. We feel that we can achieve our goals by deciding for ourselves what tools and methods we use to achieve them. We feel more trusted and empowered. All this brings joy and makes us more satisfied with our work.

Self-awareness – The Teal’s tool

Such greater responsibility requires us to be self-aware. This is a difficult task, especially since our education system does not provide for such a subject as self-awareness. We all leave school with factual knowledge, but we have received little or no support when it comes to soft skills.

Developing self-awareness is practically a never-ending process of constant, attentive self-discovery. We have to learn to recognise our needs, talents, limitations. We have to learn how to set boundaries assertively and communicate to build cooperation. We must learn to recognise our emotions and manage them, which will develop our empathy.

In self-discovery, we clarify our individual action models. Because we are different, each of us has a distinct way of dealing with tasks. Some are organised and systematic, but some work in bursts at the last minute. Recognising your model allows you to better organise your work in a team and better communicate to your colleagues what is important to you and what you need to achieve your goals. (read Teal Paradigm in ConnectPoint)

This knowledge cannot be obtained in one or even several training courses. Of course, they can help, but what we need is continuous work. It’s good when we have the support of someone who can help us navigate through the meanders of our consciousness when we need it, in a way that suits us.

Share the burden

The approach of treating our lives as a whole creates another role for the corporate psychologist. They can support solving any problem, even those outside the field of work.

If important topics occupy our attention and energy, we do not have enough of it to engage in work or any other activity. Therefore, it is good to have someone at hand to go to and talk about what is bothering us. Sometimes a simple ‘chat’ helps. It allows you to vent a bit of emotion and make it easier to deal with the subject. Sometimes you might be inspired, with the help of a coach, to look for your solution that you are ready for at that moment. And sometimes, you can stop at the level of understanding what is happening to you.

The increased responsibility for our own lives and the crazy volatility of the VUCA* world we live in cause increased stress and excess emotion. This is another topic with which we can turn to a psychologist. With their help, we can learn how to recognise emotions and how to deal with stress. Again, it’s not about looking for good advice but finding the best solutions for ourselves with support.

Procrastination, insomnia, explosiveness, constant fatigue, failed relationships, fear of making friends, shyness, lack of confidence, trouble planning. I’m sure each of us will find something of our own here. These are topics that strongly affect our lives, and it’s worth dealing with them so that they don’t take away our joy and happiness.

You can go to therapy, but you can also try to look at them in a coaching model; instead of asking “why”, ask “how can I change this” and look for solutions for yourself. The corporate psychologist we have on hand can help with this too.

*VUCA stands for: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity