When we hear the word ‘bullying’, we tend to associate this with our school days. However, the sad truth is that more than one in ten people are bullied in their workplace.
Bullying behavior can be extremely damaging, whether this be through mental damage done to the employee suffering, or the knock-on effects this behavior has on the wider business (a toxic culture, lack of cohesion, drop in engagement levels).
However, how leader and HR professionals respond to bullying is so important in managing these ripple effects. Therefore, knowing the signs of this behavior is vital to mitigating the effects that it will have.
But firstly, what is bullying at work? The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; or work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done.”
There are two things to note from this; the first is knowing the difference between someone who is generally not nice and someone who is a bully. Bullying is targeted (so towards the same person, or same group of people i.e. women, a certain ethnic group) and repeated, whereas if a manager is found to be mean to anyone and everyone and it isn’t targeted, then this is simply seen as a manager having an attitude problem. The second thing to note is that bullying can look different depending on the context it is happening in, which is why it’s important for leaders to know all the signs and different forms that bullying can take in order to intervene quickly and efficiently.
So, what are the signs?
Overt signs of bullying will look like a person being aggressive through yelling, shouting, or hitting objects. It can be punishing a specific employee undeservingly, belittling or embarrassing someone, or even threatening them with unwarranted punishment and/or termination. Additionally, actively blocking someone’s learning and development opportunities and campaigning against them to remove them from the organization all constitute as openly bullying an employee.
There are also more subtle, covert signs of bullying that leaders have to be aware of too. This can take the shape of shaming/guilting someone, pitting employees against each other, isolating/excluding someone on purpose, ignoring them, and deceiving them to get one’s way.
There is a tendency for bullying to come from managers and higher-ups to their direct reports. I have previously worked with a leader who was consistently angry and frequently yelled, and would lie to HR about the performance of a member of staff to get action taken to remove them from the company. HR, upon investigating, discovered that the leader was purposefully gatekeeping information from the employee that they needed to perform their job, which was yielding these subpar results, as well as scheduling meetings surreptitiously so that the individual would miss out on key exchanges.
In a case like this, or any instance of workplace bullying, HR must handle it as if handling any other employee relations issue – by conducting a thorough internal investigation and taking direct action upon the conclusion of this investigation, whether that be coaching, punishment, or even termination.
But employers can also go one step further, and instead of being reactive to bullying, they can be proactive in preventing it in the first place. This can be done through:
Employers who are working towards creating a harmonious and inclusive workplace are the ones that are going to get the best out of their people – after all, happy employees are productive employees!
If you would like to discuss the anti-bullying training and workshops we offer, please get in touch with me at Brittany@orgshakers.com
After recently gaining my Prism Certification from SurePeople, I was struck by this thought: how do leaders who are particularly motivated by external validation bring their best?
Being recognized for one’s efforts is something that a lot of us enjoy, regardless of our position in a company. Not only is it nice to be validated, but when someone recognizes and rewards our efforts, our brains actually release dopamine which makes us feel happiness and satisfaction.
When a leader thrives from external affirmation, however, recognition can become a bit trickier. As a society, we expect leaders to offer recognition and rewards to their team rather than receive them. Leadership is often lonely, and for those leaders who are extrinsically motivated, this can be an even harder challenge to face. The natural energy derived from recognition may no longer be available.
This begs the question, is being an externally motivated leader a good thing? Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of this leadership aspect:
It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand, if you are a leader who is motivated by affirmation, you may be a driver for innovation and have fantastic interpersonal relationships with your team. There are organic boundaries, however, that must exist between leaders and their direct reports to maintain an effective level of professionalism and ensure all members of the team feel evenly valued and included. Sometimes, needing this affirmation can blind a leader and result in some of the drawbacks outlined above.
If you feel that you are a leader who is extrinsically motivated, I think the most important strategy to enhance effectiveness is to establish balance. There are plenty of ways to feel validated and recognised for your contributions – whether this be through your team excelling, through getting your name published externally, or receiving recognition from stakeholders – but as a leader, you also need to have a sense of self-affirmation.
Working with a coach is a great way to find this balance. They can help identify what energizes you and how to effectively “recharge.” This allows you to maintain healthy boundaries with your team while still being approachable and considerate.
If you would like to discover your motivators and discuss how to best leverage them to improve your effectiveness as a leader, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
For those who might not be familiar, something wonderful happened on Twitter this year (a sentence not heard all that often). After an ordeal where an HBO Max intern accidently sent out a test email to thousands of the streaming service’s subscribers, the company took to Twitter to explain the mistake and highlighted how they were supporting their intern through the mishap.
This subsequently sparked the #DearIntern trend to circulate, which saw thousands of users taking to the social media app and sharing their accounts of silly mistakes they had made in their careers. This show of unification brought a certain warmth to the world of Twitter, and highlights an important fact for HR: mistakes are always going to be made, especially when you’re just starting out, but it’s how we respond to them that truly matters.
In light of this, I asked my fellow OrgShakers some reflective advice that they would give their younger selves as they just started out in their careers, and here are their responses:
David Fairhurst: I’ve learned that done is better than perfect – find the balance of knowing when some things are just good enough and move on.
Anya Clitheroe: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! When you first start work, and someone sets you a task, it’s okay not to know how to do it. Ask, “What does good look like? Where will I find the information I need to do this? Who is the best person for me to turn to when I have a question or need support?”. We grow up thinking that we need to prove that we are the best and we are not used to allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. No one knows how to ride a bicycle without being shown, why would a work task be any different?
Ken Merritt: I would tell 21-year-old Ken: “Build your network and value that network as much as you value any other professional asset.”
Brittany Burton: Attend as many University career fairs and networking events as you can. At 21, I had no idea a career like Human Resources existed. I had a very black-and-white view of my career path and when I tried it and didn’t like it, I was lost at what other career paths were in the world. Luckily, I landed in this profession which aligns perfectly with my skillset and how I want to serve, but it wasn’t without a lot of time, energy, and effort exploring what was beyond my original career path when I decided it wasn’t a fit.
Victoria Sprenger: I received this advice in my early 20s from a mentor – Grow Where You’re Planted. Use your early career opportunities to learn and grow, even if the opportunity is not exactly what you set out to do.
Marty Belle: After graduating from university, the words of my Mom and Grandmother were reverberating in my ears, “Get a job, work hard, and you will make something out of yourself”. Those words shaped the path that I pursued, which involved joining one corporate organization after another and constantly trying to adapt my style to open the doors to success that I saw in front of me. Today, I would stress to my 21-year-old self, “be comfortable with who you have been created to be and pursue the dreams that may require you to make a new door.”
Stephanie Rodriguez: Hmm…some advice I’d give my former self would be to not hold on too tight to whatever plan you think you have career wise and enjoy the journey. Yes, having a plan and goals is great, but keeping an open mind and staying flexible can lead to some amazing opportunities you’d never have imagined. The journey might not play out the way you thought it would, and that’s perfectly okay!
Sayid Hussein: I would emphasize the importance of continuous learning and staying adaptable in the ever-evolving world of technology. Embrace challenges and take calculated risks to grow both personally and professionally. Don’t shy away from seeking mentors or collaborating with others to expand your knowledge and skills. Also, remember to strike a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being. Finally, trust your instincts, stay true to your values, and always be open to new opportunities that align with your passion and goals.
Lauren Kincaid: “Show up to improve yourself, not prove yourself” – as someone who was very often the youngest person in the room, I felt the need to prove I deserved to be there. I wish I had had the confidence to spend less time fearing failure and overpreparing and more time saying, “I don’t know” and asking others, “what do you think?”.
Michael Lawson: “Forget the mistake, remember the lesson it taught you” – When I was first starting out at my first company, I oversaw all of the HR Employee Files on the network. One day, I accidentally hit the “delete” key on my keyboard which deleted a whole folder’s worth of data (several files). I went into panic mode trying to get them back before going to my boss. Little did I know that I could call I.T. and with one click of a button, it could be restored. My boss looked at me and said, “everyone makes mistakes, and most can be corrected, the lesson here is being precise within your work to get things done correctly.” To this day, I can still hear those words.
Amanda Holland: As the only shy introvert in a family of extroverts, from a young age I struggled to meet the social expectations of my parents and siblings. This carried over to my first “real” job at the age of 14. It was so much easier to focus on technical excellence and book learning than to face the uncomfortable world of people. One time, I came home after a full day of school and work, irritated and unhappy because even though I’d done all my tasks correctly at work, my boss had told me I needed to lighten up. My mom listened to my frustration and then shared this pearl of wisdom, “It doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are at a job if you can’t get along with people.” From that moment on, I have spent as much energy on learning how to communicate and interact effectively with people as I have on mastering the tools of my trade. Connecting with others can be a reward beyond measure.
Andy Parsley: “Don’t trust your memory!” At the start of every new job you will be at the receiving end of a tsunami of information, meetings, tasks, and deadlines. Equip yourself with a good, old-fashioned notebook and take notes in every meeting (including when it took place and who was there). Use the back of the same notebook to create a to-do list (what you need to do, and when it needs to be done by). There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night worrying that you’ve forgotten to do something – or failing to remember what was agreed at last week’s important meeting. By committing everything to paper, you’ll know just where to find everything you need to remember when you need to.
Workplace friendships can be joyous, enduring relationships contributing to personal and professional success. It’s how we manage them that matter.
Regularly spending time with the same people is likely to result in platonic relationships forming. Such friendships can foster innovation and psychological safety, as well as encourage collaboration, adaptability, vulnerability, healthy competition, and humility – skills that businesses should seek to optimise.
In fact, a study confirms that 76.13% of employees have at least one close friend at work and many organisational psychologists recognise the benefits of social-emotional connections at work.
So, what role does friendship play in the workplace? Is it crucial to have a close team inside and outside of the office? Is there a balance to be struck?
Of course, there are potential drawbacks from having interpersonal relationships. Personal lives can impact the workplace, and the line between colleague and friend can sometimes blur the distinction between professional and private life. Dynamics change as reporting lines do and suddenly a friendship becomes strained, and leadership becomes more challenging.
The most successful and high-performing teams I’ve worked with had respect for each other, clear accountabilities, enjoyed a similar humour and had a focus on communication and collaboration. They had an alignment of values that bound them.
Employers can and should strive to create cohesion. Workplace friendships can be a positive force, but also potentially a disruptive one. Friendships will form organically but careful consideration may be given regarding recruitment and the culture companies are creating. Value alignment is particularly powerful as employers want their people to have some common ground, enough to build trust, honesty with each other and the ability to both challenge and support. This foundation creates a positive environment to engage, innovate and communicate effectively.
The key in workplace friendships is the skill of setting and working with boundaries to maintain both professionalism and friendship. You can coach your employees to feel confident in this. With boundaries in place, you can mitigate the risk of personal problems making their way into the office.
While friendship at work isn’t necessarily an important thing for all, nurturing an environment where friendship is possible in a professional context can reap rewards. What blossoms into friendship beyond work is a plus, but more critical is a focus on recruiting people with diverse perspectives but similar values. This can foster innovation and productive teams who can support and challenge each other to create a positive place to work.
Think of your own group of friends. You’re not all carbon copies of each other, right?
If you would like to discuss how we can help you find this balance in your hiring practices, workplace culture, and team and individual coaching, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hybrid and remote work have been the talk of the town the last few years. This highly successful alternative work style is a fantastic demonstration of corporate perseverance, resilience, and adaptability.
And yet, while many businesses have been operating like this since 2020, a recent study from Microsoft found 85% of leaders said the shift to hybrid work has made it hard to be confident that employees are being productive. Even though 87% of workers report performing better at home, only 12% of employers have full confidence their team is being productive.
Subsequently dubbed ‘productivity paranoia’, it’s clear a large proportion of leaders may be struggling (even though employee satisfaction for hybrid work is extremely high, and from an economic perspective businesses have become arguably more profitable).
Why are some employers plagued by this paranoia, and how can they begin to mitigate their concerns?
It’s not uncommon for managers to encounter paranoia in one form or another during their career. Important to note is that while hybrid and remote work has proven effective, the way it came to be was not traditional. Companies felt pressured to adopt this way of life due to COVID-19. When change feels forced it can be much more difficult to work through any accompanying negative feelings. For example, a person’s supervisory routine might be intensely disrupted, and suddenly they must learn what it means to supervise a group of people who are no longer physically around them.
It can be challenging to modify engrained work habits, especially when the need to address them comes as an urgent surprise. In addition, the concept of presenteeism has been rooted in corporate culture for decades, which makes it a hard habit to change even though we now know it is inherently flawed: being able to physically see someone does not guarantee they are more productive than when they can’t be seen.
For leaders who are experiencing productivity concerns related to hybrid or remote work options, it may be time to step back, dig deep, and honestly explore what truly disturbs them about this situation. The answer could reveal a lack of trust in the team, reluctance to embrace change, or singular focus on the performance of one team member.
To help identify the root cause of why a leader or manager might push back on hybrid or remote work solutions, HR professionals can suggest they complete a Johari Window, or an Immunity Map Worksheet. These steps can help managers focus their thoughts and address specific concerns.
It is also key for HR to determine whether this is a potential coaching or organizational culture matter. For example, managers may develop productivity paranoia based on the inequitable nature of remote work within a company. Companies frequently have a variety of positions, some of which are able to work remotely and others that cannot. This may lead to divisiveness in the workplace and a manager may be resistant not because of the remote work itself, but rather the rising contention and its echoing effects on the harmony of the company.
HR plays a key role in helping employers manage productivity paranoia. Whether it be from a leader optimization or a culture cohesion perspective, we are integral to helping leaders unlock the people power in their organizations.
To discuss how OrgShakers can help you do this, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
There are over 16 million Veterans in the US, as well as almost 2 million in the UK, and while many of them are of working age, the transition from special forces to the world of work can be a gaping and daunting one.
For those who are coming out of service, finding, applying, securing and doing a ‘regular’ nine-to-five job can be an arduous process – but with the right support, this group of people have an abundance of technical skills and power skills to offer to the corporate world that are productive, innovative, and profitable.
There is existing stigma around the recruitment of ex-military personnel – one survey found that almost a third (31%) of recruiters said they felt reluctant to employ someone who had previously served as they were more likely to struggle with mental health problems. However, if Veterans are properly supported in this transition, then the skills and experience they have to offer can be utilized and optimized by employers.
So, what can HR professionals be doing to offer support?
Firstly, helping with decision making. A noticeable leap from military to corporate is the fluidity and choice that one suddenly has. Veterans are used to having very rigid job descriptions and are offered set roles which remain consistent. Because of these set roles and guidelines, Veterans often struggle to connect and translate their service experience to other jobs on the civilian side (outside of contracting or law enforcement, for example). And upon leaving the forces, suddenly they are faced with having to actively seek out work, and this requires knowing where to look, how to look, and what to be looking for. In enabling Veterans to understand their skills from their past careers and translate them into a marketable corporate structure, we can help prepare them for their next mission. So in this sense, we would coach Veterans on how to approach this challenge, how to look at their experience in a different light, and aid in finding the right career for them.
This then brings us onto CVs. CVs can sometimes be a tricky thing for ex-military to grapple, as a military CV is vastly different from a corporate one, yet are the first thing an employer will base their opinion on. Veterans will be conditioned to having to write out in great detail all of their experience in the forces, and so resumes end up being pages and pages long. But in the working world, a CV has to be concise, distilled and to-the-point to even be considered. So, having support crafting a CV can be so beneficial, especially for those who have served for most of their lives and may not have a traditional education. Helping to identify and translate their leadership skills, their strengths, and polishing success stories from their time in the service in a “proper” civilian CV will concisely highlight what they can be offering to an employer.
Lastly, helping Veterans understand and follow ‘business etiquette’. For those of us who have worked everyday jobs, it is common knowledge that there are norms and values of most workplaces that most of us just come to know as we progress in our careers. But for those who have just emerged from the military, their norms are going to be wildly different. For example, in the forces there is less room for error, but more error is likely to occur, and so it is much more normalized and less reprimanded. Whereas in the world of work, repercussions for mistakes are instantaneous, and if they are recurring then you are more likely to lose your job.
But this is a great example of a mindset that employers can learn from, as making conscious room for error also creates space for learning and innovation. Those ex-military will already be wired into this mindset, they just need to be coached to have their skills translated to be applicable to a business setting. Each Veteran’s transition journey varies and can be both exciting and a little scary at first from not knowing what to expect. We hope by coaching through those unknowns, Veterans will be able to confidently enter the civilian working world in their next chapter.
It is no secret that the military are skilled organizers and project managers, and these are all transferrable into the workplace (not to mention greatly sought after by most employers). With the right support, those leaving the forces can make a fantastic impact on the world of work, and prove to be some of our best innovators and most productive workers. That’s why OrgShakers are very proud to soon be partnering with a specialized charity to help support and coach Veterans into the world of work. If you would like to discuss the details of this further, please get in contact with us.
Leaders play a pivotal role in any organization, and can be the difference between a company that thrives and a company that falters.
It is worrying to see that 43% of workers have left a job at some point in their career because of their manager. And more than half of workers (53%) who are currently considering leaving their jobs said they were looking to change roles because of their manager.
Are managers also leaders, you may ask? While there are distinct differences between leadership and management, managers who are also effective leaders have a significant advantage when it comes to engaging and retaining employees.
So, what does a leader that employees want to work for actually look like? Consider:
There is no such thing as ‘perfect’, as perfect can look different to everyone. When it comes to being the best leader you can be, however, there are proven power skills, hard skills and characteristics that can help you become a leader your team will want to stay with. If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help coach you to become this leader, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have ever worked with Maister, Green & Galford’s Trust Equation, you’ll know that perceived self-orientation (i.e. someone who comes across as focused on their own agenda) is the quickest way to undermine a relationship of trust.
Generally, we have come to associate the word ‘ego’ with this idea of being self-centered, but actually, an ego is not always as bad as its initial connotations. While leaders being egotistical can lead to retention problems (especially with more than two in five employees having left a job because of a bad manager), they can also be a force for good. However, it is important to get the balance right – leaders need to develop and utilize a ‘healthy ego’ in order to optimize their leadership abilities.
So, what does a ‘healthy ego’ look like?
Well, one way to think about this is by considering the airplane safety briefing. When the cabin crew are doing the safety demonstration just before take-off, they remind everyone that in the event of needing oxygen masks, it is imperative that you put your own mask on first before attending to those of children or others around you. This is a great analogy for a healthy ego!
The fact is, nothing is going to unsettle an organization more than employees lacking faith in their leader. Staff want to know that their higher-ups know what they are doing, are good at what they do, and have confidence in the future of the company. There is some level of ego that every leader must have in order to believe that they are the right person for the job and have the ability to make the hard decisions and delegate where need be.
I believe the key to balancing this out and making this ego healthy is inclusivity – even though a leader benefits from being confident and having credible experience, they need to also have a growth mindset and be willing to listen and incorporate other opinions and use this when making a decision.
As well as this, if a leader is making their intentions clear by being transparent and communicative with their teams, then they do not risk this display of ‘ego’ being misconstrued as vanity or self-orientation.
If you would like to discuss how to find that perfect balance to create healthy egos in leaders, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
I’m sure that it would be no surprise to hear that many of us do not grow up to be working in the career we had dreamed of as a child. In fact, only one in ten Americans say they are working their ‘dream job’.
And so, naturally, employees may indulge in a ‘what if…’ moment. What if I’d stuck with that hobby? What if I’d studied that degree? What if I chose that path instead of this one? The list goes on. Employers may not think that this happens often, but a recent study actually found that only 6% of participants reported never or almost never thinking about other paths they could have taken – that leaves a whopping 94% of employees wondering about those ‘what ifs’.
That same study also discovered that 21% of workers reported thinking about these questions often or almost always. Those who were somewhat ‘stuck in the past’ were more likely to be distracted or daydream, took more breaks and days off, were less engaged, and were more likely to search for other jobs.
It is easy to fall victim to this spiral of thoughts, as nowadays most of us are constantly being confronted with choices. A recent survey found that there had been a significant rise in the ‘apply anyway’ trend, with three quarters (73%) of recruiters citing a lack of qualified applicants for roles as the biggest challenge in the hiring process. This highlights that employees have such ease and accessibility to new job choices – LinkedIn’s Easy Apply option is a great example of this – that it’s no wonder they find themselves wondering about paths untaken.
This can all have an effect on engagement levels, and so it is important for employers to know what they can be doing to challenge these feelings of ‘what if’ and help employees turn them into creative and innovative output:
It‘s natural to wonder from time to time about what could have been. And while harmless reflection is always a nice thing, those who find themselves getting stuck in the past may need a helping hand getting unstuck. If you would like to discuss how we can help improve your employee engagement levels by optimizing the wonderment of ‘what if’, please get in touch with us.
Coaching is a fantastic way to draw the potential out of leaders. It helps improve confidence, productivity, and is a sustainable form of development, as what is learned is taken and applied independently afterwards. And this is a proven fact – on average, an individual increases their productivity by 86% when training is combined with coaching, compared to only 22% with training alone. But in order for coaching to be effective, the context of who is being coached, and when, must align with what coaching has to offer in order to actually reap a significant return on investment (ROI). Coaching works well alongside training when it supports the embedding of new skill sets which have been the subject of the skill building. More often, however, coaching at this level is focused on shifting a mindset. In that situation employers must first be able to identify if the leader’s needs are, indeed, coachable.
Coaching requires you to explore, support and challenge a leader’s thinking in order to help realign their perspective. However, an executive can only be coached to think and operate differently if they are open to doing so. Coaching isn’t designed to change people fundamentally, it acts as a way of unlocking unrealized potential – this new approach was always an option, it just needed to be teased out in a methodical way.
How can you tell if this is the case?
The individual should have exhibited a desire to be coached in some way, and previously displayed behavior of wanting to learn, as well as change in response to feedback. Coaching can be an intimate experience and can sometimes feel judgmental, when in reality it is designed to push the coachee so that they gain a sustainable form of development. If a leader has previously shown the want to improve and strengthen their abilities, then this person will be a perfect fit for executive coaching and will likely benefit greatly from it.
Also, timing matters! Coaching is extremely effective when a leader is at a learning inflection point. This can take shape in many different ways, but will typically be a moment of realization, a challenge they are facing, or noticeable dissonance. These all act as coaching catalysts, as they spark the focus needed for coaching to be successful. Once this inflection point has been identified, the coach can then help the leader map out the goals of their sessions and pave a clear path to meet them.
Executive coaching is rising in popularity – in 2022, it was estimated that the global executive coaching market was valued at $9.3 billion – which is almost a $1 billion increase from the previous year. This is because the satisfaction rate for coaching is near to 100%, but to ensure that it remains that way, employers must be able to identify the correct context for successful and meaningful coaching to take place. This ensures that money is not being wasted, but instead converted into a high ROI.
If you would like to seek out coaching at a leadership level or are interested in being coached yourself, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t come across the term ‘quiet promotion’, it references the practice of employees assuming the responsibilities of a former colleague without formal recognition or compensation.
Sadly, this is not as uncommon as people might think. One recent study found that 67% of workers had taken on the responsibilities of a more senior colleague after that colleague left the company, while 78% had taken on additional workload without any additional compensation.
Quiet promotions can pose unintended consequences for the employee assuming these additional responsibilities, the leadership team, and the organization as a whole:
When it comes down to it, quiet promotions are unlikely to create cost savings for an organization. While initially it may seem like a smart move to save some money, especially in economically trying times, ultimately the costs associated with the loss of productivity, engagement, and potential increased turnover do not compare to the cost of effectively leading an organization through transition and providing rewarding career opportunities for committed and loyal employees.
If you would like to discuss strategies for supporting your business with its turnover rate, or how to manage an employee separation in a cost-effective manner, please do get in touch with me at email@example.com
Today’s economic and social climate plays a big role in perpetuating stress in the workplace. Executives who know how to leverage personal pressure while effectively managing stressed employees possess a vital skillset, particularly in a cost-of-living or organizational identity crisis.
For example, leaders who successfully practice healthy personal habits and foster wellbeing in their organization’s workforce hold a significant competitive advantage. Knowing how to manage their own feelings of stress can also increase an executive’s longevity in the demanding world of c-suite leadership.
The above global report recently found 41% of senior leaders were stressed, and 69% of executives were thinking about quitting because of their wellbeing. Therefore, effective stress management can be key for reducing executive turnover. And in the same breath, stress management in the C-suite will have a trickle-down effect on their company. The idea of ‘follow the leader’ rings true in today’s world of work – if the C-suite is experiencing burnout from stress overload, how can they also effectively mitigate the stress levels of those who work with and for them?
This article focuses on three of the actions C-suite leaders can take to leverage the tensions inherent in their roles as organizational leaders. For information around mitigation of stress in the workforce, check out our article here.
Savvy executives start by recognizing the difference between feeling stress and feeling pressure. A certain level of pressure and expectation is inherent in any executive role. This tension is often motivating and a beneficial by-product of personal and organizational success (e.g., company growth). When working in a high-stakes position, however, stress can easily mask itself as ‘just part of the job’, when this isn’t the case. By correctly identifying stress versus pressure, senior leaders can take advantage of tension-ridden scenarios through innovation, perseverance, and focus. They can rally flagging troops to achieve objectives and recharge themselves by accomplishing challenging goals or navigating rough waters. Conversely, failing to identify personal stress can result in questionable decisions, divisive behavior, and decreasing productivity and morale. Choosing the most effective path forward begins with correct identification of stress vs. pressure.
Stress management has been heavily researched, and a myriad of resources, training, techniques, and approaches exist, and this is because stress is known to have negative effects on the body and the mind. Chances are, most C-suite executives have studied and built their stress management skills over the course of their career. Executives can be experts in ways to mitigate stress in their organization while failing to prioritize their personal physical and mental health management. One study found CEOs work an average of 79% of all weekend days, 70% of their vacation days, and 62.5 hours per week. Knowing how to best mitigate stress helps lessen negative influence, but only if stress management is a scheduled, prioritized, and practiced part of an executive’s daily routine.
Successful executives schedule their health into their lives just as they would schedule shareholder meetings. Allocating specific time in the day to exercise, eat, and reflect is essential. There is no one set thing executives should do in the time they block out for themselves. Rather, it’s important to take that time and do something restful, rejuvenating, or just plain fun. Executives need balance as much as employees do, so establishing a clear work-life balance is instrumental to managing stress and mental health.
It is also important to remember that executives are role models – their behavior has a direct effect on the culture and tone of the company they oversee. If they are trying to promote values of mental and physical wellbeing while choosing not to comply themselves, their team will likely feel less comfortable asking for support or assistance when it is needed. The classic example? Coming to work when sick, but then encouraging staff to take the day off if they are unwell. This type of mixed message has a trickle-down effect on the organization and can elevate workforce stress levels.
While these actions may feel simple or obvious, getting started may not be easy. One path to greater personal and organizational wellbeing is through executive coaching.
Another is bringing a consultant on board to help identify effective health and welfare strategies. Taking action to intentionally manage stress and pressure can result in a domino-effect of improved productivity, organizational culture evolution, and improved attraction and retention rates.
Knowing how to manage stress at an executive level in a healthy manner can cascade down the hierarchy of your business and foster a healthy, happy, and productive workforce. To get in touch to discuss coaching for stress or implementing health and wellbeing strategies, please connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org