Well, do you? That sentence may conjure up a specific feeling or emotional gut reaction but if you really invest some time into this concept, the need to feel safe is a driving force in our daily lives. Without safety, fear is the predominant emotional force behind our behavior. Can you imagine a place where every situation was based in fear? That doesn’t sound like a place I would want to spend any amount of time, never mind 40 hours a week. Thankfully, Xylem is far from operating out of a sense of fear. A sense of off-the-cuff hilarious, maybe. But fear? Never. Not with this group.

Body-ImageOver the past year and a half, we dug into our proverbial trenches and sought to thoughtfully define and refine that which makes Xylem tick. From dozens and dozens of meetings, involving employees from all departments, discussions happened that helped provide immense clarity as to the goals of the company. We also tackled really simple questions like, “why do you do what you do?” and “why do we exist?”, only to find out that it would actually take over a year to answer. This amazing process gave each team member a chance to help carry forward the successes and challenges by engaging them every step of the way. They also received lots of free food. Luckily, our boss knows how to motivate his team –through our bellies.

While we all felt great chumming around with our co-workers, that process was also about providing a safe environment in which to grow; a safe environment in which to talk openly and freely about challenges, successes and goals. It provided an environment for us to bond over how to grow together as a team and individually. Safety is feeling comfortable sharing weaknesses and strengths, admitting mistakes, asking questions, or having a so-so or not-so-great idea.

Simply put: safety is respectfully supporting the people that are in your life, i.e.: your tribe.

I bet you’re wondering if this feeling stops as we leave Xylem at the end of our shifts. The short answer is: not on your life! Not only has this experience enriched the lives of our employees while at work, but the concept has also dipped into our personal lives providing even safer environments for our families to grow. Real change is affected through positive interactions and the spread of that knowledge. We take that to heart.