Co-creation of empathetic culture at Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand uses the Emotional Culture Deck 

Air New Zealand operates a global network serving over 17 million passengers a year. The company aims to connect New Zealanders with each other and New Zealand with the world, by creating a world-class organisation delivering cultural, customer, and commercial excellence. Air New Zealand has won hundreds of national and global awards, including the Airline Ratings’ Airline of the Year for five years straight.  

The opportunity 

Empowered to support positive change across teams and leaders, recently Air New Zealand used the Emotional Culture Deck to focus on co-creation of empathetic cultures.  

Stronger team culture 

One of the ways to use the Emotional Culture Deck is to shape spaces for teams to discuss how they need to feel at work to be successful and how they don’t want to feel. 

Workshops began with individual reflection on emotions, then came together as groups. Some deep thoughts and experiences were shared, often not only about work but also about private life and how some of our home emotions are brought to work and vice versa. Long moments of silence, reflection and looks full of understanding were common.  

I think everyone came away from that day feeling better connected and more in tune with everyone else in the team. This has never happened to such a great degree before. 

-Air New Zealand team member 

Connected leaders 

The Emotional Culture Deck is also being used 1-on-1 sessions with leaders and managers. The deck enabled structured reflection on two key statements: 

- Our success relies on our people feeling this… 
- We absolutely don’t want our people to feel this… 

Every leader then took away the Leadership Field Guide, a small canvas which comes with every Deck, to complete in their own time. This guide helps leaders reflect about their behaviours which support and hinder the emotional culture they want to create. 

Kicking off a culture change programme 

Beyond individuals, teams, and leaders came the opportunity of larger culture change across a cohort of 60 people. How do you allow people to look into the future and imagine how the culture could look like? With this question in mind, the group decided to build the vision of the future they wanted to create together. The Emotional Culture Deck was instrumental during the session, leading to strong ideation and experiments that carried back out into the ‘live’ workplace.  

I have never felt so close to my team-mates. Suddenly we were able to have time to reflect on our emotions but also we could build empathy for each other. Can’t wait to see how it will impact our day to day interactions as a team. 

-Air New Zealand team member 

Co-creation of empathetic culture 

Smart organisations, especially those competing in global markets, know that empowering people to co-create their workplace culture is far more effective than exerting top-down control. The Emotional Culture Deck and supporting tools are designed to enable the conversations and reflection that help make this happen.  

We were introduced to new ways of thinking about how we can improve our team behaviours to better support us all as individuals and move the dial on needs that we all share. 

-Air New Zealand team member