The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Friday, 26 October 2018

Life Balance: Creating Positve Change

I attended a great National Manager's Conference the other day with speakers from across Canada, and across all levels of government. The overall message is 'People are our greatest resource'. I firmly believe this because as a leader, people are what make or break a team, an organization or a business.

So why do so many of us not feel the spirit behind the message? Why do these five words cause consternation and emotional dissonance? What are we doing as leaders to support our people?

According to the American Institute of Stress, 65% of people reporting that workplace stress impacts negatively on their lives, not only on the job but overall. This is a small excerpt form the article.
Highlighted statistics from the CDC NIOSH report:

•40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
•25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives
•Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago
•29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work
•26 percent of workers said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work”
•Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems

Highlighted statistics from the Attitude in the Workplace Report:

•80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help
•14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t
•25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent
•9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.

This is a serious issue and there are numerous courses, seminars and workshops that teach us how to cope with stress, and teach us what the repercussions are to our health when dispositive changes occur in the workplace.

People become disengaged, morale plummets, sick days increase, people are calling it in, rather than giving it their all, which decreases productivity and we end up with a generation of unhealthy people. Doctors visits increase, which places a burden on our health care system, substance and drug abuse increases which impacts our bodies, and we become complacent believing nothing can change. 

People are our most valuable resource, but when the writing on the wall says we can hire a younger, cheaper version of a seasoned and knowledgeable employee, or we can cut your status or pay, but you still get to have all the responsibility, then what really is the message? And as an employee, how do you mitigate the impact to your life and to your family?

Attitude: become versed in keeping emotion out of your attitude. Much easier said than done, since this can feel personal. Step away, emotionally, and look at the reason behind decisions, but do this based on fact, not the tapes running through your head. You know what I mean. Someone will say or do something, such as invite an entire team for coffee, but neglect to offer the invitation to you, and you watch as they all walk past your desk, without telling you they are leaving or why. 

Immediately you start telling yourself, you don't matter, they don't like you, why should you do anything for them in the future and you spiral into a vortex of anger and hurt. Stop. Stop this tape. It is self defeating. Instead become curious. Is there another reason why you did not get an invite? You can do this by checking in with someone when they return. A simple way to approach this is to ask,"Hey Fred, I am curious about why you didn't let me know you were all leaving." Check in with the person, but do it in a way that is not emotional, not accusatory, and do it without the tapes running in your head. 

You may get an answer such as it was a project meeting we needed to discuss to work on details, or any other number of reasons that have nothing to do with you personally. By checking in, we can reframe those negative associations we make, which causes increased stress. 

Stay focused on your role and responsibility: what is the reason behind what you do? Are you doing it to the best of your ability? Are you able to keep up with the demands and pace of your job? Do you need additional resources, tools, time? Reflect on these questions and if you need help, say so, but again, do it without the emotion. Storming into your manager's office and making demands will not work quite as well as setting up an appointment with a clear message of what you want to discuss, and then go the appointment with your issues, and your possible solutions. If you are just coming in without solutions, you have not done your job. All you are doing is complaining. 

Leaders take the time to discover what the issue is and come up with options and solutions. Do not expect your manager or boss to help you if you are not willing to come up with some ideas as to how you can change your work in order to help yourself. I use the word leader intentionally, because regardless of your job title, you are all leaders, and how you behave reflects on whether you are eligible for promotion and effects your reputation. Anyone can come up with reasons why something will not work, how it will fail and why it can't be done. Step out of the crowd and come up with possible solutions. This takes the ego out of the equation and instead, empowers your brain into thinking solution rather than problem. 

Leave the problems at work: Change your thoughts by changing your beliefs and staying focused on the positive. Make a mental decision to lessen the affect of stress in your life by telling yourself that when your hand touches the door handle when you leave your office, your work stays in the office. All of it. 

This has to be a conscious decision and it has to be repeated each and every day in order to reframe your brain into believing that work can and should stay at work. This is a skill, and as all skills, needs practise. 

Do not take it home. Do not let it interfere or take you away from your partner, your children, your passions, your life. Because it will. If you allow the job to follow you around like a dark cloud, the quality of your life changes. 

We spend one third of our lives at work, one third of it sleeping and one third somewhere else. Do not allow the one third of the work place to intrude on the other two thirds. It is not fair to you or your family. Disengage from work when you reach that door handle. Take a deep breath, float all those negative feelings out of your mind and let them go. 

Instead, focus on what you love, what gives you drive, what your passions are, and your health, your family and fun. 

Change your thoughts, change your beliefs and change those mental tapes. The best part is, once you change one, the others change as well. 

Stay positive, stay healthy, stay in the present.