That sinking feeling in your stomach; that unwillingness to get out of bed; dragging yourself at work; increased heartbeat, sleepless nights, sweaty palms, hair turning grey, and stomach problems – this is all STRESS!
Sadly we don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered from it all! In fact, it would be safe to say that stress is on the rise, especially in workplaces. We can blame it on the faster pace of work and life or more competition or the corporate rat race or even our personal relationships – whatever may the reasons be, the bottom line is that STRESS seems to be GROWING!
Here in this article, we will focus on some of the main stress-inducing situations in an office scenario AND some tips to help you reduce it (or at the very least manage it better) –
One of the most significant sources of stress is the BOSS (a US-based study reported that over a third of surveyed workers cited their boss as the primary source of their work-related stress). As your boss or senior management has the most control or say in what you do at work, how well you are treated, and your long-term career prospects, it is not surprising that difficult bosses can become a major source of worry.
Apart from team leads and HoDs, conflict with colleagues can also lead to a toxic work atmosphere, which will undoubtedly increase the stress in your daily work life.
What can you do?
First off, keeping quite and bottling it all up is NOT going to help. The stress will only keep increasing, and it is better to be upfront about your problems when they are small and manageable rather than when they get out of hand.
If your boss is inadvertently causing stress but is intrinsically a nice, reasonable person, then it might be useful to sit down and have a simple chat. It would also be helpful to chat about your problems with some close colleagues and enlist their help when things start getting stressful – for example, with late-night shifts or deadlines. It might seem a bit aggressive, but setting some boundaries can be helpful in the long run – for example, if you have to get back home at a certain time, but long meetings or last-minute work always creates difficulties, then talking about your time constraints openly is best. Try to find a flexible way to manage work such as coming in early, taking on a different role, or working from home.
If, on the other hand, your boss's personality is difficult to deal with, then there isn't much you can do to change him/her or your situation. The short term solution is to learn to deal with moods, predict personality traits, and keep yourself calm. In the long-run, moving to another department or a different company altogether is the only permanent solution.
Too much work, impossible deadlines, long work hours, and working with too few resources or staff are all unreasonable situations at work that induce stress.
While you might be able to manage working beyond your capacity or abilities for a while, it is bound to create a problematic situation when it becomes a long term expectation.
Setting expectations and time limits are the only ways ahead. Every job has situations where you will be asked to extend yourself to do more – peak season in retail or a new project or client with a tight deadline. All employees understand this and are generally OK with it too. The problem only starts when you go from one stressful project to another and from one deadline to another; when the team size remains small, but the workload keeps increasing. In these situations, you have to speak to the senior management and present your problem along with solutions.
In the current work culture where working long hours is a badge of indispensability and almost a status symbol signaling one's importance in a company, personal life usually suffers. This competition to work extra-long starts when most people are young and can sustain this lifestyle, but when families come into the picture, it becomes challenging to maintain a balance.
What can one do?
First and foremost, get a sound support system in place to manage whatever home related work you can outsource. Spend extra to get better and more reliable help. With external help in place, set your limits. This could be how many days a month you will travel or sacrosanct family times such as weekends or late evenings.
Career-wise you might have to re-evaluate how you can cut down or accommodate your family's needs with your work schedule. Ultimately every person must decide their priorities themselves. But it's important to sit down and plan what you want to do, what are your life's must-haves, and what you are willing to let go off. Once you have that clearly defined, the next step is to go about finding the smoothest path to achieve the best work-life balance.
Stress will always be there! Whether you are the CEO or the new intern – everyone has some problems they are dealing with and some tensions they are living under. No one is exempt, but some do manage to seem less stressed and happier. This is only because they have the mindset and the drive to change their situations. Stress is a symptom of loss of control; when you feel that you can’t change a bad situation and are stuck in it. Always know that YOU have the reins of your life; YOU are in the driver's seat, and the choice to change is YOURS.
Approach your problems with a positive attitude and look for solutions – they will seem less stressful.
If things seem overwhelming and you need to reduce stress immediately, then learning ways to de-stress from a professionally trained coach is the best way forward. Request a complimentary consultation by clicking the button above.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
To be truly listened to is an amazing experience, partly because it is so rare! When another person is totally with you – leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel seen and understood. When people feel that they are really being listened to, they open up more as they feel safe and secure and the trust between the parties grows.
Unfortunately, most people do not listen at a very deep level as they are preoccupied with the challenges of their fast-paced life. As a result, most conversations tend to skim on the surface.
The absence of real listening is especially prevalent at work. Under pressure to get the job done, we listen for the minimum of what we need to know so that we can move on to the next fire that needs fighting. So, what’s the consequence of this? Everyone is talking, no on is listening. As a result, employee engagement has become a serious issue in organisations today.
This is becoming a bigger problem in this COVID scenario as employees are dispersed and the conversations are very transactional and brief. Leaders seem to have become busier and more distracted in recent times.
How often are you as a leader distracted in a conversation or a meeting with your team? How often are you as a leader not psychologically present when you are virtually with your team? How often do you cancel, interrupt or shorten meetings with your people in favour of some other stakeholder, priority or task? How often do you make your people wait, ask, or even hope for your leadership? Ironically, now more than ever, leaders need to be deeply and continuously connected with their teams.
What your team needs right now is authentic and unequivocal leadership presence. So, turn off the noise in your head. Turn off the noise from your technology. Focus your mind and your time on the people you lead and they, in turn, will follow and support your leadership efforts.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to take the time to connect, to show that you care about your employees as people. Listening deeply will also help you understand what their challenges and expectations, and gives you a chance to share what your intentions and goals in a way that everyone can be aligned.
Listening is a skill that you can gain from training and practice. And who better to learn if from than coaches. Effective coaches tend to be gifted listeners and they hone their listening skills to reach a high level of proficiency. This enables us coaches to reach the inner recesses of your mind and help you get those deep insights.
In the book, Co-Active Coaching, Henry and Karen Kimsey-House explain the three levels of listening and how the art of listening can be cultivated.
Level 1 listening is an interaction where the primary focus of you as the listener is on your own thoughts, opinions, judgments, and feelings. You relate the words you hear to your own experiences or needs. For example, if we are buying a car, we will be listening at Level 1 to the salesperson to see how the car features will fit our needs and budget.
Level 2 listening takes the communication one step further. It involves paying attention to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. As you filter out your internal chatter and distractions from the environment, you are able to tune in to the meaning of the words, choose a way to respond, and assess the effect of the response on the speaker.
Level 3 listening brings an entirely new state of awareness to the conversation. It involves doing everything at Level 2, plus using your intuition and being open to receiving more information in any form that it presents itself. If you get a hunch, for example, while listening to someone, you could bring it up without being attached to it. Without insisting on being right, observe the effect it has on the speaker and be aware of where the conversation goes next.
For instance, you may say: “I understand that you are happy with the results, but I have a feeling that you have something else on your mind.” The response may be, “No, not really,” or “Yes, actually, I wanted to tell you about this issue that came up with our project.” It is irrelevant if you are right or wrong; what is important is the effect on the conversation.
So, there you have it – why it is important for you as a leader to hone your listening skills and how you can enhance your depth of listening. The art of listening takes time to develop, but it can be practiced daily. It builds trust and understanding and contributes significantly to your effectiveness as a leader.
If you want to discuss further, just schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking this link above.
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