Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst Marissa Andrada focuses on spreading kindness and teaching organizations how to create a company culture in which employees at all levels prioritize kindness. The business world today is fast-paced and highly competitive. Many companies prioritize profit and productivity above all else. With that mindset, what often gets overlooked is the importance of kindness and compassion in creating a positive and healthy work environment.
Research has shown that a kind and supportive workplace culture makes employees happier, and happier employees are more productive and creative, and the company is more successful. But how do you create this type of environment?
Below, she will explain why kindness is crucial for a company’s culture and how businesses can foster a culture of kindness in the workplace.
Grit Daily: You left Chipotle as their Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer in August of 2022. Now you are a Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst. What do those titles mean, and what services do you provide?
Marissa Andrada: Over the past two and a half decades, I have had the opportunity to lead people and human resources across multiple Fortune 500 companies and consumer brands. I always lead with the mantra that you can grow companies through growing people. On my journey of mastering culture, I have gained deep, comprehensive experience working with leaders and employees across these organizations to foster inclusive, diverse and high-performance cultures.
To be a Culture Master though, one must never rest on past experiences. It requires unyielding commitment to personal evolution, relishing the opportunity to learn from all people and experiences, and cultivating a growth mindset. Culture is dynamic and organic in nature, and the journey to mastery is a continual pursuit.
In addition to creating company cultures, I have been hard-wired throughout my life to prioritize societal culture and the shared experiences that draw people together. My personal experiences developed my calling to profoundly and joyfully connect people with one another. Not surprisingly, this passion translated to a career in building and mastering culture.
I believe that kindness is a choice and a mindset. In grade school, I learned about ‘The Golden Rule – Treat others the way YOU want to be treated.’ This consciousness from childhood has evolved to ‘The Platinum Rule – Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.’ To be kind is to be curious about and consider the other person’s perspective. It’s about treating individuals with respect and acknowledging them for ALL of who they are.
Grit Daily: Is there a distinction between being nice and being kind?
Marissa Andrada: Absolutely. To be nice is to pay a compliment to someone whether or not you really mean it. It is a way of creating good feelings in the moment, and I love this if the intent is really to pay a compliment. However, in a situation where a ‘hard conversation’ needs to occur and a person chooses to ‘soft-pedal’ information because it is easier, being ‘nice’ is actually a disservice.
To be kind is to be clear and to share information (whether good or bad) with immediacy because it comes from a place of true caring and concern for the other person. It is about treating others with dignity and respect.
Grit Daily: A catalyst is a device for starting a process which, once started, doesn’t need the catalyst to sustain itself. What is it you are trying to start in your work as a Kindness Catalyst, and how does it sustain itself after you move on?
Marissa Andrada: A simple, small act of kindness and giving grace to another person can be life altering — not only for them, but for everyone they come into contact with as well. One small act of kindness in essence creates a life affirming ripple effect. It just takes one person to start this movement, impacting large groups of people in an organization and/or community.
Grit Daily: You encourage leaders to lead with kindness. What results have you seen from leading people with kindness?
Marissa Andrada: In addition to fostering an environment in which team members are encouraged to show up as their authentic selves, kindness creates a spirit of inclusivity and belonging in which everyone is inspired to collaborate, share all of their ideas, and drive business results. As a result, I have also seen the positive impact on retention and engagement of employees.
Also Read: Kindness Is a Strong Foundation for Success
Grit Daily: How are you continuing to learn and grow now that you have expanded beyond the corporate world?
Marissa Andrada: I am building on my cultural mastery by utilizing my experience to influence corporate strategy as an independent director on the Krispy Kreme Donuts Board of Directors. I have also enjoyed broadening my outlook on life and forming new perspectives through the conversations on my podcast, CultureCast and a variety of new experiences. I have met amazing people and immersed myself in other cultures through my personal travels.
I continue to engage with other organizations as a speaker on culture and inclusion, as well as mentor individuals eager to grow their careers. I am an adviser to three start-up companies, all focused on creating pathways to overall well-being and growth opportunities for people. These diverse experiences continue to increase my knowledge and energy and have vitalized my creativity in helping others create new solutions for their biggest culture challenges.
I continue to be inspired by my personal calling — to make a positive impact in our world while profoundly and joyfully connecting people to one another.