Why Engage a Coach?

There are very few people (in fact none that I can think of) that succeed completely on their own. Think of anyone you consider successful, be it someone you know personally, or someone ‘famous’, like a sports star or celebrity. They have all had support from other people in one way or another to achieve what they want to achieve. I am sure you have read or watched many an interview where the subject in question was being asked about their success or achievements and they have said something along the lines of ‘I couldn’t have done it without…’

No matter how capable you may feel, you simply do not have all the answers. There is always someone who can better guide you, challenge you or simply point you in the right direction. Regardless of what your success goal is, unless perhaps your goal is to be the first human being on Mars, then someone else has already done it and achieved it. Save yourself time and frustration by learning from their mistakes and find someone who has done it before and is happy to share their valuable advice and guidance. In fact, even if your success goal is to be the first human being on Mars, there will still be someone who has spent extended time in space or who has explored harsh environments with limited resources. The point is, whatever it is you want to do, you don’t need to do it on your own.

According to the International Coaching Federation, ‘80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.’

Having a coach will hold you accountable to your plan for achieving your success goals. A good coach will ask you for updates on your progress. A good coach will also ask you a lot of questions (rather than telling you what to do), so that you can take responsibility for either achieving your goals or being honest about what was not achieved.

If you are seeking a coach, or would like to learn more about what the process involves, either for yourself or a colleague, feel free to contact me. I am an International Coach Federation Accredited Coach, which is the one and only globally recognised coaching credential. I am also happy to recommend other Coaches if your development goals are outside my areas of specialty.

Unplugged

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… Including you.’ Anne Lamott

With the holiday season looming this is the time of year that we should be slowing down, and yet for many of us we can be busier than ever. Christmas shopping, work dinners, projects that must be finished before the 24th…. The busier we are, the more important it is to unplug and step away from your desk/laptop/iPad/iPhone. For many people that feels counter-intuitive and they try and push through, working even harder and longer hours.

The thing is, most of us wouldn’t hesitate to take a break after an hour or so of physical exercise, and most people with a regular exercise routine know the value of having a rest day as part of their schedule. But what about mental breaks? Many people don’t consider the mental fatigue that they are experiencing in any given day or over a period of time and the impact that is having on their stress levels, performance and productivity. The fact is, the more hours you work, and particularly the more hours you work without a break, the less you will actually achieve. If you don’t believe me, there was a study undertaken by John Pencavel of Stanford University in April 2014 on The Productivity of Working Hours that confirms this.

These days technology allows us to work from anywhere at any time. Which can be great (I love working from home). The idea is that this gives us flexibility and choices around where and when we work. Unfortunately, this also has a flip-side, which means many people are connected to their work (and not necessarily to their goals) every waking moment. This means they never really switch off and take a break. Naturally this continued mode of being ‘on’ is not good for stress levels and can actually reduce productivity and leave us too mentally fatigued to focus on our goals. While many people feel that there is an expectation that they are and can be available anytime, regretfully for many of us, we have actually created this expectation all by ourselves. We just don’t realise that we did this and think it has been caused by our manager, our industry or technology. This state of being constantly available ends up creating more ‘work’ and giving us less time to take a break and truly switch off and recharge.

Are you planning on unplugging over Christmas and using that annual leave you have accrued? According to a 2015 Roy Morgan Research study, 28 percent of full-time Australian workers had more than five weeks’ annual leave accrued. Take a break people! I often have people say to me that they are too busy to take a holiday or even a short break. That genuinely makes me feel very sad. The only reason these people think they are too busy to take a holiday is because that is the story they are telling themselves. Look, how many of us work in such critical and specialised job functions or roles, where if we took a long weekend or, heaven forbid, a week’s holiday, the organisation or business would completely collapse without us? Sorry, not sorry, but if you were to get hit by a bus, the organisation would somehow manage to struggle on without you. You are replaceable. Someone else can fill in for a day or a week. And if there is really no-one else who can do your job, then some serious consideration needs to be given to either a succession planning strategy, or, if you own your own business, how you can set up systems or processes that allow you to step away for a few days.

These days I schedule a minimum of two holidays where I either leave the state or the country and at least one long weekend break a year. I run my own business and do not employee other people, so there is no-one to step in and do the work while I am away. My strategy? I plan the holidays in advance, book them in my calendar and then let all my clients know when I won’t be available. So far this has not been the slightest bit detrimental to my business and it has enabled me to live the work life balance I want for my family.

In the spirit of taking a unplugging, this will be my last blog post until early February 2018. I will be taking a break over Christmas and New Year and then taking my daughter on a holiday around the Pacific Islands in late January.

Have a wonderful Christmas. I trust you will truly enjoy spending time with your loved ones and I wish you a re-energised start to 2018.

The Unaware Leader

Last week I read and then shared via LinkedIn and Twitter, an article in the Financial Post that stated 35% of employees would give up a raise to see their leader fired. As the article went on to explain, a study of more than 35,000 leaders from over 120 countries, found there is an enormous gap between the way that leaders perceive themselves and how their direct reports perceive them.

The study, undertaken through collaboration between Harvard Business Review and Rasmus Hougaard (founder and managing partner of Potential Project), found that while 77% of leaders surveyed felt they were doing well engaging people and creating productive employees, 82% of employee said their leaders were not good in this space. This significant gap in perception, suggests a deficit of Self-Awareness.

In my work as an Emotional Intelligence (EI) Practitioner, I often talk with people about the competencies of EI and, in particular, the foundation skill of Self-Awareness. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat across the table from someone who has assured me that they are ‘very’ self-aware. Sadly, the reality is often quite different. This is not just my opinion; research by Dr Travis Bradberrry (Author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0) has found that most people are not Self-Aware most of the time.

We can all enhance our levels of Self-Awareness and become more mindful leaders, employees, partners, parents and friends. The really good news is that enhancing our Self-Awareness can be done quite easily. It is just a matter of focusing on it. As a suggestion; set yourself a reminder for three times a day over a period of four weeks, to stop and reflect in that moment, and ask yourself three questions:

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling it?
  • Is this helping or hindering me?

If what you are feeling at that moment is helping, that’s great. If what you are feeling at that moment is either hindering you or hindering others (think of the impact your emotions are having on the people around you), then you can make a decision in that moment to shift.

As those of you who have participated in any of my programs have no doubt heard me say; ‘Awareness enables choice’.

Once we are aware of something, we then have a choice as to whether we want to do something about it. Start now by asking yourself those three questions and continue cultivating your Self-Awareness.

Resilience

Without a doubt, the most common request I have received in recent months has been for programs to help with Resilience and Stress Management. I am thrilled that so many organisations and individuals are taking such an interest in the health and wellbeing of their people. As I mentioned in my last blog, the world of work has changed, and we need to ensure that we are adapting to it and looking after ourselves and the people we work with.

In September, I travelled with the Tasmanian Employer of Choice Roadshow to discuss one of my programs; Building a Resilient Workforce. I met so many people from a diverse range of businesses and industries, and all with the same desire to learn strategies to support themselves and others. I asked many of them who they consider to be a resilient leader. As a general rule, I found that Gandhi and Mandela were popular responses and occasionally I heard about individuals of whom I was not aware of, but who have demonstrated resilience in a way that resonated with the person I was conversing with.

The road to enhanced resilience is certainly paved with adversity. Resilient individuals and leaders are not happy and positive all of the time. The reality is that they have experienced difficulties or trauma and worked through it. Those that come to mind for me are usually; Nelson Mandela, Rosie Batty and Malala Yousafzai. However, my personal favourite is Ernest Shackleton.

If you don’t know Shackleton’s story, I genuinely think it is one of the most incredible stories ever told. In a nutshell, he wanted to be the first to cross Antarctica on foot. Within weeks of arriving, his ship was crushed. There was no contact with the outside world. This was 1914, so no satellite phones! In a nutshell, it took nearly two years, however he ensured that everyone in his crew got home safe and well. It is truly the most remarkable story. In the most challenging of circumstances, he was able to keep everyone engaged, safe and focused. I often hear from people who express frustration with having to work with limited resources. Well, for Shackleton and his crew this was a serious lack of resources including food and shelter in below freezing conditions!

As a leader, Shackleton had a strong and clear vision, which then had to be changed in an instant from his personal goal of crossing Antarctica to focusing on getting every one of his crew home safely. Sometimes, we have a clear vision for an aspect of our work, career or life and then something happens which requires us to shift or completely change that focus. One of my favourite quotes is by Charles Darwin, who said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’.  Being resilient allows us to adapt and to look after ourselves and, just as importantly, to look after others when life throws us a curve ball.

Things have changed….

Things have changed….

Recently I read a book where one of the contributors worked with IBM as an external consultant over an extended period of time. As he recalls, in 1979, IBM generated 23 billion dollars in revenue and employed over 300,000 employees and yet, on most workdays, you could have fired a cannonball down the halls of the corporate head office at 5.15pm and hit no-one. Even the most senior executives worked an average of 35-45-hour weeks, took time off when they had minor health problems and enjoyed 5 weeks of real vacation with no interruptions. (Naturally this was before mobiles, laptops and the 24/7 connectedness we ‘enjoy’ today). Employees also took comfort in the belief that they could look forward to a lifetime of job security.

Those days, of course, are now a distant dream. And by way of example; in that same IBM office, employees work 60 to 80 hours a week, they keep working through most health problems, take almost no real vacations and naturally are not counting on any job security.

Yes, things have changed. The world of work has changed and continues to change at a rapid pace. Many employees are always connected and for a variety of reasons rarely take real breaks. Business needs and priorities can change in a moment due to both internal and external factors, and I hear regularly from employees that they are been asked to do more and more with less.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that individuals and organisations build resilience. Having a resilient workforce is about individuals, teams and organisations functioning well, both in normal operating conditions, as well as in times of stress and significant change. A resilient workforce has a protective barrier that enables them to stay healthy, work effectively and maintain productivity during periods of high pressure.

We know that change is constant, and as Charles Darwin noted ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.’

There is no doubt that the workplace can be stressful at times, and yet it is important to remember that for most people, their work is ‘a key determinant of self-worth, family esteem, identity and standing within the community, besides of course, material progress and a means of social participation and fulfilment.’ As described by Dame Carol Black.

So, what do your employees need?

There are three key factors:

  • A meaningful, flexible job with role clarity
  • A supportive manager and team that is respectful and communicates well
  • An organisation that is accountable, has clearly defined goals and capable leaders

If this is a topic of interest for you and your organisation, or if you are interested in our Building a Resilient Workforce program, please feel free to contact Rachel, via;

contact@successwithlessstress.com.au

Profiling Tools

Success with less stress - shoes photo

Profiling Tools provide a wealth of benefits for both Individuals and

Organisations. Insights can be gained into personality types, thinking and communication preferences, workplace behaviours and leadership capability.

Individuals

Through either self-assessment or 360 feedback options, Individuals can either create a launch pad for a self-directed development pathway or receive feedback on their current performance levels, thus allowing the creation of an individual development plan based on specific competencies.

Teams

Teams are a melting pot of differing personalities, thinking and communication preferences and styles of working. Undertaking profiling as a team creates the opportunity to understand and appreciate the team members’ individual preferences and develop strategies to work more effectively with each other.  Teams are equipped with a common language and terms of reference which makes it easier to discuss subjects that may otherwise be challenging.

Organisations

An extensive amount of research has shown that when employees are provided development opportunities that enhance their understanding of personality types, thinking and communication preferences and developing emotionally intelligent behaviours, this positively impacts organisational financial performance. The benefits can be seen in sales conversions, retention and turnover rates and increases in market share.