What Capacity Building Sounds Like

We stood in front of a group of close to 100 people who had gathered in a room to hear what it means to serve as an ambassador of well-being within the company. They had all accepted an invitation from someone they knew to come to the room. Not all of them were completely aware of exactly why they were present in the room. But an invitation can be a powerful persuader - particularly when it comes from someone you know and trust.

The ask to those in the room was relatively simple. 

The first request was personal in nature. We wanted to invite them to be well. We wanted them to know that personal well-being is a journey and that each journey has a unique starting point. For some, their journeys were well underway and they were working hard to sustain habits that were contributing to a healthier lifestyle. For others, journeys had not yet begun because they were stuck not knowing exactly where to begin. (A tip that everything starts with a small step - something like a change in eating patterns while at work or making an appointment to see a financial planner.) Those in the room were told that the most important role of an ambassador was to "try and model well-being in their own life to the best of their ability." No perfection needed here. Just a desire to stand up and say, "I will be well." And then look out and find the help, support and encouragement that can make that first step happen.

The second request was social in nature. We wanted them to know that ambassadors within the company (now numbering well over 300) were the real army behind building capacity for thriving workforce well-being. They were to join a group actively creating the resources and relationships that combine to knock down barriers to accessing what people need to be well. The people in the room were asked to simply connect their friends and family members to the breadth of well-being benefits and offerings available through the company. In a sense, the ask was to have ambassadors encourage those in their social network to be well, and then help them take the first step.

If you were to ask us (and a slew of behavioral scientists) what has the single greatest influence on your personal well-being, we would tell you it is your social network. It is those with whom you discuss important matters and spend your free time. Period. Within the company, we certainly needed leaders who were brave enough to show their own journeys and give permission for others to start theirs. But more so, we needed the influence, support and encouragement to flourish where it matters most.

An invitation to join the effort, the opportunity to personally benefit from the collective effort, and then a chance to extend that benefit to those you care about most - that is what capacity building sounds like.