Kamu peer support – Psychologically safe goal setting

Jul 9, 2019, 2:08 PM

When an organization aims to maintain a hierarchy-free environment and operate completely without middle management, progressive solutions are in order to effectively support the well-being and competence development of the employees. We created the Kamu support system to meet that need at Nitor.

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Kamu is an employee that supports peer colleagues (Kaveri) by coaching, mentoring, sparring, and listening. The idea is to help the Kaveri balance work and other aspects of life and to provide support in professional and personal development. Kamu is not a superior but is responsible for providing continuous support for the Kaveri.

Nitor’s data driven People Operations conducted a study on how the employees of Nitor perceive the Kamu system that has now been around for roughly two years. We wanted to find out what its benefits and challenges are and why some employees choose not to participate in the system.

Here are some of the key findings:

1. Based on the results, Kamu system promotes psychological health in two different ways; first, building successful Kamu relationships and thus having a strong community of trustworthy peers, creates a safer working environment. The second factor is the possibility to discuss both personal and professional issues with a peer, which employees find psychologically safer than discussing them with a superior.

2. Kamu has potentially a significant role in helping find meaningful goals and also meet those goals. Based on this research, setting goals and following up on them is the most beneficial outcome of Kamu meetings for Kaveris.

3. The most common reasons for not participating in the Kamu system were lack of time and pressure in customer projects. When setting priorities, the customers often come first. And rightfully so, but the aim is also to find the time to do internal projects with the 10 % core time we allocate to every employee.

4. The employees recognize the significance of the Kamu system for maintaining the flat organizational hierarchy. Kamus help carry the social burden of management by taking on the role of listener and supporter. However, annual supervisor face-to-face meetings are still considered important and irreplaceable. The employees see the support divided between a Kamu and a superior as a wholesome solution.

5. The motivation to work as a Kamu is based on benevolence. When we asked about the benefits of the system for Kamus, the most common answer by far was that they get satisfaction out of helping colleagues.

We are now starting to help implement Kamu system in other organizations. In order for the Kamu system to really have in impact, the organizational culture should be such where supporting colleagues is intrinsically motivated. Kamu system should also be properly supported by allocating time and providing education for Kamu work. Would this be possible in your organization?

Read the whole study with more findings here: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-201905159973


author

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Tiina Vanala is Nitor’s People Operations Specialist. In her spare time, she develops baking recipes and collects Russian literature that she never has time to read.