When it comes to fostering engagement, the role of a leader is central, and for leaders themselves, it can seem quite overwhelming. We know that the level of engagement is the result of a number of factors, two of which are leader-critical. They are the ability of your leaders to understand and articulate your:
Let’s explore these ideas in brief.
Whether you are a first time supervisor or a seasoned leader, your ability to make sense of where the company is headed and wrap your head around the strategy and objectives as they relate to your level of leadership is a pivotal activity when it comes to building engagement in your teams. The reason for this is simple. People like to know where they are going and what they are investing their energy in. Sure, there are some people who are just happy to turn up each day, do what they have to do and then go home. But for a majority of your people, they like to know why they are turning up each day and just how their role is contributing to the achievement of the bigger picture. Part of this is psychological, as we all have deep hungers for being informed and acknowledged. At its very core, sharing what you know of how your team’s objectives contribute to the function or company strategy will feed those hungers and prevent your people from making their own sense of where the ship is headed. So, if you know where the ship is headed, share it.
This one can seem a bit harder than sharing on direction as culture can seem like such a big and impermeable beast. But the reality is that as leaders we are custodians and champions of our organisations culture. If you’ve not gone down the path of capturing and optimising your organisational culture, you can still nail this one. What are the company values? These are usually derived from processes that distil what we believe are the important ways to think and act around here. If you don’t have clearly stated values, what is the vision? This is another way of getting in touch with the culture of an organisation. It’s certainly not the whole picture, especially if you find yourself in a situation where the stated vision or values are not demonstrated by the leadership of the business. Between your vision and values, you have some important guide posts for ‘how’ you should be leading. Whether they be values such as ‘passion’, ‘entrepreneurial’ or ‘customer-focused’, find a way to bring these to life in the way you lead. Talk with your team about what they mean for how your team does what it does on a daily basis. From first time manager to experienced leader…this one can be easy to do as well. From a psychological standpoint, by having this conversation your people feel involved in the business. And when you walk the talk, and carry out your role in the spirit of the vision or values you let your people see what good looks like. Some people need to see it to make sense of it whilst others will just get it.
These are a couple of small actions that any leader can deploy that will start to have a positive impact on engagement. Seriously, they are not time-consuming nor do they need to suck energy…rather they will most likely generate energy…and we know that when we feel energised we also start to feel engaged.
The problem with team building is that it usually doesn’t result in sustainable levels of teaming, nor does it position the team for success. There’s a really good reason for this too, because what usually passes for a teaming event is more often a social engagement rather than an authentic connection of hearts and minds around achieving a task. The other common mistake is using an activity that requires teams for the event to occur, but doesn’t actually build teams - like paintball or ten pin bowling.
So what does help to create sustainable teams? At its core, good teaming is about creating the space for a bunch of different people to build rapport – to get to know each other; their likes, dislikes, where they’ve worked before, what excites them, their personality. All of these factors, if explored will provide your team with a level of connection that will build rapport and contribute to more effective team work. After all, building rapport is about establishing sameness, and reducing differences. If you can achieve this, then you will go some way to having a connected team; but you won’t have a team that has achieved a level of closeness required to perform above and beyond expectations – both for themselves (individually) and for each other.
Effective teaming goes beyond this and allows the group to connect on a values level around their reason for being. If you can create the opportunity for this to occur then you are setting both the team, and the team members up for long-term success.
So how do you do this? Well, there a number of factors, and in this article I’ll explore three that contribute to a more effective team building process and support a more sustainable outcomes.
1. Be clear on the team's reason for being
2. Create a common language
3. The teaming process never ends
Be Clear on the Team’s Reason for Being
I’ve worked with many struggling matrix structures, joint ventures, leadership groups and business teams across many countries, and this first factor was missing on nearly all occasions.
When I ask these groups the primary purpose of their team, responses are usually lacking of clarity and many times the mission of the organisation is used in place of the purpose of their team.
What they hadn’t done was that very critical piece of work that ultimately sets the team up for success. They hadn’t taken the time to ask themselves the questions that help define purpose… "why are we here – what is the specific purpose of our team?" When asking these questions, of course it will be relative to, and in context of the overall mission of the project, the joint venture or the company. That’s what helps to ensure added relevance and meaning for the team from the outset. However the question is also an opportunity for the leadership of the team/s to be fully aligned around what this group has been brought together to achieve, and to be clear on the expectations that may exist of their team from other groups, such as the leadership levels above or other stakeholder groups.
It is this step that also provides the focus and direction for the way in which you choose to construct your teaming event including who needs to be involved and the type and experience of facilitator.
Create a Common Language
Language is symbolic, and it helps to define who we are. When different people come together to a team, they bring with them their own language defined by who they are. This can be defined by factors such as their race, their life experiences, their knowledge and their skills. When you bring two groups together, like a joint venture, or multiple groups in a project consortium then the variables are increased and the issue of common language extends far beyond their mother tongue or the use of technical or organisational jargon – that is merely the tip of the iceberg.
One of the greatest inhibitors to sustainable teaming are the beliefs held by individuals that they have to hold on to who they are and what defines them. We see this more often in matrix structures, joint ventures and consortiums where more energy is invested in defending their patch rather than relaxing the boundaries and collaborating. Creating a common language is about defining how the group can work, and exist, together without having to give up who they are. It is in effect an unconditional approach that allows for conditional behaviour and results. This can be done through the creation of team charters, like the On TRACC process, that acknowledge not only the reason for being, but also creates a shared and agreed way of operating on a values level.
The Teaming Process Never Ends
A team is made up of people, and people are constantly changing as is the environment in which the team exists. This means that when you are planning your teaming approach you aren’t just thinking about the traditional ‘main event’ that occurs at the beginning. What’s the plan for continuing to bring the group together and check in on the commitments made during the teaming activity? Think medium to long term when you pull your teaming activity together and look for ways to integrate the outcomes of the teaming process into your everyday operations. Importantly, if there is a seismic shift in the environment, such as a restructure, or a major change to the make up of a team or its purpose, then it makes sense that you revisit the teaming process, even if it’s an abridged version, to ensure you are still on track, and capable of delivering as a team.
These are three core tenets of effective team building. It doesn’t mean you can’t relax socially throughout the process or have some fun and games; but these become complimentary or a more intentional means to an end. The point I will leave you with is simple, but far-reaching. Good business results require really good teams who are engaged not only with each other, but also with the reason their team exists. It therefore makes a whole lot of sense that investing a little more in your team at the beginning will yield longer-term success.
For some time now, we’ve seen many organisations encouraging their managers to learn the art of coaching as a key approach in their suite of management tools. I’ve witnessed first hand many situations where the ‘manager as coach’ approach has helped lift members of a team, or even whole teams and positively enhanced the performance of the managers themselves.
But is a ‘manager as coach’ style enough to lift a team and provide longer-term sustainable performance? I’m not so sure. I think that the ‘manager as coach’ strategy stops short of helping a team reach the heights of performance that are possible, simply because coaching remains a conditional approach that is driven by immediate outcomes. Coaching is task oriented and the main focus is on tangible issues such as giving effective feedback, thinking strategically or how to provide better customer service. For this reason, coaching has a shorter-term focus with the emphasis being on how to perform more effectively today.
A good manager understands when to use coaching for good effect; in fact we could say that coaching is a situational tool; just as the ability to have hard conversations or use the right tools at the right time are situational decisions.
The key to helping your team enhance their performance is to move beyond the conditional aspects of your relationship and adopt more of a mentoring style. In my own experience as both a leader and a team member, I know that the times I have seen sustained peak performance are the times when relationships move beyond the conditional ‘something for something’ stage and towards a level of professional intimacy.
Mentoring in itself is about relationships and unconditional. This is a big shift for those managers who are attached to more traditional leadership styles, as it tends to offer up a level of vulnerability that puts the manager on the same level as their people. Managers who understand this provide a level of safety in their team that makes it ok for their employees to share issues that may be affecting their professional and personal performance; which may lead to some coaching, training or something else to help address the gap. The reality is though, that a mentoring approach relies on sharing who you are and not just what you know. A leader who is able to integrate mentoring into their style will likely learn that the root of many performance issues lies in self-esteem, work/life balance or other personal issues that don’t lie that far beneath the surface. This raises the question; how often has coaching, training or even dismissal been incorrectly used to deal with issues that may simply have needed an ear or required a simple word of acknowledgement for them at least start to be addressed?
When used together, both mentoring and coaching combine to be a holistic leadership approach that provide a focus on both the long and short term. An example of this is shown below with a situation that is becoming increasingly common – career development:
1. The mentoring leader is able to learn what the employee really wants to do, and where they see themselves in five or ten years.
(long term focus)
2. The manager as coach is able to help them address any gaps required to help them on their way; or if those possibilities aren't available in the organisation, (short term focus)
3. The mentoring manager will put them in touch with someone in their network who can give them more information on how to achieve their career goals. (long & short term focus)
If the opportunities for growth aren’t available, is it likely you would lose this employee? Perhaps. That’s the reality every manager and organisation faces everyday. However the other reality is that this is a typical Gen Y issue. I’ve never experienced a generation of employees who are more concerned about where they will be tomorrow, in five or ten years. This is an increasingly important values driven issue for many of the Gen Y’s I’ve managed or worked with, and an issue that does impact on performance. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with this outlook, if misunderstood it can and does lead to misinterpretation of intent, and therefore poor performance management decisions.
Staying with the above example, as simple as it may appear, by being genuinely interested in what motivates your people you have established a level of trust, especially if you’ve been prepared to share what motivates you as well. Having the conversation around your differences in motivations can build levels of trust and engagement in a short space of time that could otherwise take months or years to build.
So back to my question…would you lose this person if their desire doesn’t match the organisational reality? If you did that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and by having applied a mentoring approach you are still looking after the future, as well as impacting on today:
Integrating a mentoring style doesn’t require extra time in your day as a manager, nor does it mean you have to give up other styles or tools. It just means that you are able to use them more strategically and for greater impact. It also requires that you take the opportunities to build relationships with your people and seek to understand who they really are. Out of all of this though, it’s possible that the hardest thing will be for you to have the courage to make the first step and offer up a little bit about who you really are!
Every team has an abundance of energy ready to invest in positive ways. Unfortunately it is often stifled as a result of team members not knowing where and how they can play, and what they can be doing to help elevate the team and themselves.
How can you reverse this? Well, it’s not as complicated as you may think, and it only involves a couple of simple steps:
Ensure everyone is on the same page as to why we are here. Not having a singular and well understood 'reason for being' is one of the most common errors made by companies and their management teams. I have often asked leadership groups what their mandate is only to get a variety of responses (that are usually reflective of the two or three different clashing or confused cultures displayed by the workforce!). Understanding our 'reason for being' is critical; without this we are headed down a road to nowhere.
Articulate where we are headed (the vision)…so people know the direction within which to invest their creative and productive energies. If you don’t have a vision at team level, adopt the company vision. If that doesn’t exist then you have a perfectly good excuse to sit down and think about what the direction is for your team and where you’d like them to be in, say, 12 months. If there are any boundaries, let the team know so that they know how far they can stray with their creativity and investment of energy towards the common goal.
Everyone knows what they need to do (role clarity). We may know why we are here and what the vision is, but if the team doesn’t know how their individual roles are expected to contribute, then creativity will be replaced with confusion over who is responsible for what. The results of this is something we often see; either team members defending their patch and protecting their boundaries rather than collaborating and working together; or the opposite when we see team members over compensating and getting involved with everything and anything simply because how roles are expected to contribute (and therefore collaborate) isn’t clear.
My experience is that if we know why we are here, what we are here to do, and how we are expected to contribute then the scene is set for a motivated and engaged workforce. More importantly, as a leader, you become an enabler, rather than a blocker to team success.
There are plenty of times at work (and in life) when we want to gain the cooperation, buy in or consensus of those around us; whether they be a manager, colleagues or an employee. So what’s the easy answer? Well, in my experience there is no easy or perfect answer; but I have encountered a couple of methods that tend to bear fruit.
Is it me or is it you?
If you are continually struggling to build a relationship or gain the collaboration you are looking for, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and do a simple 'is it me or is it you' analysis that will provide you with enough information to decide a way forward.
However, if they insist that they are ok with what you are proposing then perhaps it’s an issue of capability...do they have the skills or experience to do what you’ve asked them to do? Are they out of their depth? This can impact on desire as well. Engage them in a conversation on the topic, ask technical questions and involve them so that you can determine the level of knowledge they have on the topic. It’s easy to presume that others have the skills and knowledge required...and hard when everyone realises too late that they don’t. If it is skills then it's easy to organise opportunities for development or experience; whether it be training, coaching or shadowing on the job.
If the person you are looking to get buy in or collaboration from is openly resistant that’s a great start...after all if they are passively aggressive you usually don’t know it until it’s too late that they aren’t happy or really don’t buy in to what you are promoting. But if they are acting out with energy then you know what their position is, and you can do something about it. With these people I find that a more effective strategy is to channel the energy...something you can’t do with more passive behaviours. Involve them in the discussion regarding a solution, remember that the acting out is a defense mechanism. This is usually a result of lower self-esteem, or event/s that may have impacted on their sense of self worth over time. This is your chance to embrace them and channel their energy toward a solution rather than do what everyone else does and push them away or disagree with their position (which reinforces, and in their mind justifies, their rebellious behaviour).
And finally… consider the ‘save face’ factor
These are just a few ideas for increasing your chances of collaboration or buy-in that have worked for me over the years. However the most important element that underpins all of these suggestions is very simple. When looking to gain the support or cooperation of others, approach them in a way that you would like to be approached. With respect, and where possible, in a way that allows them to save face. After all, sometimes it’s hard to change our way of thinking over night, and some behaviours are deeply ingrained and gained from years of being the accepted way of doing something. The more you allow the opportunity for buy-in to your message in a way that protects sense of self, the more you improve your chances of collaboration or buy-in.
Life, including work, can be complicated. The most effective leaders I have worked with understand this, and practice the art of making it ‘easy’ for people to do their job.
They do this by keeping things simple and sharing as much as practical. It’s that simple.
So how can you do this?
See yourself as an enabler. You are there to help your people get the job done in the best way possible. The best leaders I’ve worked with do this by sharing strategy, plans and key information up front. They seek to understand what will help their people get their job done in the most efficient way. They also know that a big part of their job is guiding energy and activity…not blocking it.
Make it easy for people to know who you are and what you stand for as their leader. Don’t play ‘mind games’, manipulate or take the grandiose route. Be real…be yourself. Let people see the direct line of sight from your values to your behaviour.
Don’t over complicate situations. Sometimes a complicated situation doesn’t need a large-scale plan that has many moving parts. Take a step back, look at the situation from all angles and see if there is just one part of the problem that needs addressing. An easy example is the situation we encounter when a team isn’t performing well due to the behaviour of one or two team members. Why decide to pull a whole team away from the job for one or two days of team building when a couple of conversations with the employees in question would likely address the issue?
Talk ‘with’ your people. For your work as a leader to be considered valuable, it is important for your people to understand where they are headed, what they will be doing, and why it is occurring in the way that it is. Involve them in decisions that affect them; or share key information with them as early as possible. Remember the previous article where I spoke about information being like oxygen?
Finally, keeping it simple doesn’t mean that you are simple, or that you are dumbing things down for your team. It is in fact the opposite; keeping things simple isn’t always easy, especially when there is so much activity to dilute into a simple message or, more importantly, when our pride gets in the way. Many people associate leadership with power. Yet the greatest respect you can show your people is that you are willing to drop the power and acknowledge the potency that comes with your role. And the most potent leaders are those who don’t see themselves as being anymore powerful than their people; rather they acknowledge that without their people being at their most potent, they are not succeeding as a leader.
Whether you are a leader of people, a leader of change, or just leading yourself through a period of personal change, there is one ability that will most likely underpin your success as much, if not more than, most others. It also happens to compliment the attributes of successful change leaders that I spoke about last time.
In a way it goes without saying; when you lead people, change or yourself there are many moments you will encounter that leave you questioning what it is you are doing, why you are doing it and should you keep doing it? In fact sometimes it is just plain difficult and it may seem as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel. These are the times when it's important to be absolutely clear on the reason why you are engaging in an activity. This will become your true north. It is your reason for doing and being. Irrespective of whether it is leading others, change or yourself, being clear on 'why' is especially important in two key areas; Personally and with regards to the activity you are engaging in.
Personally; what is your own personal reason for leading this project, team or yourself through this process of change. Things will get tough. In fact it's rare that everything goes smoothly in a period of change! So being clear about 'why' you are doing what you are doing is critical, because some days, or even weeks, this may be the only incentive for continuing! Importantly, when you are clear on this, you will find it easier to connect with, and to inspire, other people on a more personal level in relation to your leadership or the change event. Being clear personally opens the door to engaging leadership. You can think of this component as your internal compass...and if you have ever been hiking in a group, you will notice that people are usually most interested in the person with the compass...and they follow the lead of the person with the compass.
The Activity; what is the reason for the activity you are leading? In his book, Structure and Dynamics of Organisations and Groups, Eric Berne talks about the need for being clear about the primary task of an activity so that you can in turn be clear about the type and nature of roles required to achieve the task. This then means that you can be clearer about how to structure other aspects such as communication and process requirements. Over the last 10 years it has become my practice to continually ask myself, and not just the groups I work with, 'what is the reason for doing this...the primary task'. If the above point is considered your compass, then being clear on the primary task is your map. You may be motivated personally, and have your internal compass aligned as described above; but without the map you can still be going around in circles and never reach what you set out to achieve. I once worked with a leadership group who were experiencing less than optimal results; and so I asked a simple question...'what is the primary task of this team'. I received six different responses from a team of eight people. Each of the team members were motivated...but for most of them the map was different. Once they had a shared map, there was never any doubt of the success that they went on to achieve.
These are two simple measures that can underpin your personal success and the success of your activity. They are easy to keep top of mind; and if they aren't, change that today. I think you know why.
Dialogue. For many people, let alone leaders, this is a scary concept. However for a leader, dialogue is often the single most important activity that can establish your credibility, solve issues, pre-empt issues before they need solving, and bring a team closer together. In a team that is already close, regular dialogue is a key contributor to hitting the high trust or professional intimacy point.
In the wider organisational context, dialogue can do all of the above, especially when deployed throughout significant change events.
As a leader, consultant and facilitator I have used the power of healthy dialogue as a key contributor toward achieving team success, multi-country collaboration and organisational growth. Some of the most effective stories of team success and organisational growth I have read and heard of also have strong elements of dialogue attached to them. One example in particular that comes to mind was that of a regional CEO of a global pharma company who I heard speak at a conference a few years ago on how he turned his team, and business around. He employed a very simple technique from the very beginning of his tenure that was controversial at first, but well embraced in a short space of time. Dialogue. He learned very early that his regional executive team were not connected; they were not a team. The traditional silo's were in place, and this was reflected down through the organisation with poor collaboration and communication. One of his first team leadership tasks was to have the executive team meet for one hour...everyday. The purpose of the meeting was simply to talk. Sometimes there were specific topics, but mostly it was about the connection that comes with mature dialogue. In a short space of time his team went from begrudging the daily hour, to looking forward to it. This was simply due to the natural sharing, personal and professional sharing that occurred...everyday. Soon the silo's started to disappear, collaboration increased and natural solutions to problems started to occur.
So let's take a brief look at what I mean by dialogue, and some tips on how it can easily be used as an enabler of growth.
My final thought with regards to this technique relate to you; the leader. To use dialogue constructively you have to trust yourself as much as your team. Why? Because the agenda is unknown, and driven by the group. This can be seen as giving up the 'power' that comes with being a leader. The only thing you are controlling is the flow of conversation, and working with the energy in the room.
The risk with using this technique is potentially high, simply because it isn't what people are used to, and everyone is invited to be 'present' to the conversation in a largely non-traditional and non-structured way. And as mentioned above, the leader or facilitator, takes a slightly different approach to leading the meeting.
Having said that, the risks may be high, but so are the rewards. Give it a try sometime.
So you’ve taken on the leadership of a new team, or you are leading for the first time. Either way, you are presented with the challenge of making new connections, and winning the team over so you can collectively get ‘on task’. For many people this is one of the most daunting periods of time; but it doesn’t have to be. Below are four easy steps that will help you and your new team build a healthy rapport - quickly!
“I’m Ok – You’re Ok”. As Thomas A Harris wrote in his book of the same title, look at your own approach first. Are you coming from an authoritative position of one up, or looking to be on the same level as your new team members? In simple terms, let your approach and demeanor reflect a position of acceptance, and being "ok" with those in your new team, irrespective of factors such as their past performance or their working styles.
Build Rapport. Build individual relationships quickly. It doesn’t matter if you have two or twenty people in your team. Get past the point of ‘water cooler talk’, and seek to learn ‘who’ is in your team and what motivates them. It’s easier to inspire, and achieve quick wins, if you know who it is you are leading. At the same time, your team members get to know who it is that is leading them. I once heard a great definition of rapport; it went something like "...the seeking of sameness and reducing differences...". These first two steps are all about doing this...skip them at your own peril!
Trust your team. Don't wait to trust, just do it. This isn't so easy to do if you haven't heard great things about certain members of the team, or perhaps the team as a whole before taking on the job. On top of this you may not know the team at all if you are completely new to the department or company. And let's not even get into the whole discussion around whether you are someone who can trust others easily! Take my advice, and give your team the benefit of any doubt. Make your first mission to give them a chance to shine, and to help set them up for success. The trust you show in your team today will be returned in kind…often when you least expect it, or when you need it most. My experience has been that when it hasn’t worked out with a team member, the transition out of the team is far smoother, and seen as more of a win-win situation; because that’s how we started the relationship.
Balance. Your credibility is at stake; so balance the first three steps with getting across the technical aspects of the job. Don’t do one at the expense of the other. When you are a leader the best results come when you realize that making the time to regularly connect with your people is as crucial to success as the way in which they do their work. Make time for both.
Leaders who adopt these simple steps get rewarded far quicker with a team that wants to succeed, and not just for themselves. They are in it for you too.
There are many facets to the idea of resilience, and last week I spoke about an important starting point…managing your stress. This week I’m taking a look at another important skill that underpins resilience; effective self-management.
We see leaders and professionals applying effective self-management when they face issues in their personal lives, and yet they are able to remain highly effective in their roles at work and other parts of their lives. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t dealing with the problem at hand, it simply means that they are able to ensure that the problem is contained, understood and dealt with in such a way that the impact on other parts of their lives is minimised. To be clear though, this is different to those people who appear to be coping effectively on a social level, when the reality is that they are not managing, or dismissing the severity of, the problems they may be experiencing in other parts of their lives.
This article will focus on my experiences with those who self-manage in a healthy way. We will take a Self-Management 101 approach to stimulate your thinking around how you can integrate this skill into your life.
To start with, I’ll give you a tangible example of what’s meant by self-management in this context…
When we design an organisation, or when an engineer designs the building in which the organisation will live, there is an interesting principle applied. That is, to ensure that if one part of the business is impacted negatively, it has minimal effect on the other. For example, ensuring that if there is a fire in the storeroom, it won’t affect the server room nearby containing all of that valuable information. Or in an organisational design, ensuring that there is a contingency in place to ensure a division, function or an entire organisation can still be led despite the unexpected departure of a key leader. In both of these examples there are measures that ensure healthy continuity. The storeroom separate to the server room, and a talent and succession program that is conducted in parallel to the everyday leadership of the organisation.
So how does this apply to resilience? In simple terms, a resilient person is able to manage a crisis in one part of their life whilst limiting its impact on the other parts of themselves. Or, in a more proactive way, knowing how to use the unaffected parts of their life to help them overcome the crisis or at least provide some measure of compensation.
It may sound complicated, but it’s easier than you think. You are a system that is comprised of many interdependent parts, just as in the above examples. So how do you build in your own fail safe contingencies? Let’s look at it using three simple aspects, body, mind and career:
You rely on your body to get you around; if you are always down with the flu, having a sore back or injuring yourself it’s pretty clear what the flow on effect will be. Remember, your body is what people see first… first impressions count; not just in the job interview, but also as a leader your overall demeanour is critical. If you fail to look after yourself this can have a negative flow on to how you feel about yourself, how you see yourself and other internal factors.
Your body may be in great shape, but how about your general sense of self? Your ability to understand who you are, being aware of your knowledge gaps and continually seeking to close them is an important contributor to overall health and well-being. We have all seen the link between depression and lack of exercise or over-eating.
Your career may be doing ok…but for how long? What’s important to be doing today to ensure that your career takes you where you want to be? Importantly, you may be in a job that is uninspiring or miserable. You can self-manage here as well. If you can’t be in the job you want, seek the stimulation elsewhere; such as through increasing your skills and knowledge or improving your physical well-being.
So how can you work with these components to ensure you remain resilient when you need it most? Here are some ideas.
1. Prevent a physical problem from become psychological problem
If you get injured or suffer illness it’s easy to succumb to the downward spiral which can easily impact on how you see yourself and how you think others see you. This in turn can have a direct impact on the perception you have of your ability. However, if you self-manage, you can see the injury or illness for what it is and seek to understand why it happened, and what needs to happen for the illness or injury to be dealt with, without letting it slip into anything greater. You can also use the period of recovery to ‘sharpen the saw’ as Steven Covey would say and learn something new.
2. Prevent a psychological problem from becoming physical
If you failed in your last exam, or have been having a rough time at college with your latest subjects, self-managing can assist again. Most of us have been there, when our bodies seem to lack energy because we are struggling with an issue. This may seem a little more difficult to deal with, however if you sense that you are down or feeling challenged (emotionally or intellectually), using your body to do some exercise can be just the stimulus to help prevent the issue from having a negative flow on effect physically. That doesn’t mean that you dismiss the problem; not at all. Take a rational approach to analysing the what, why and how of the situation. The cause and effect. What do you own as opposed to what the other party owns? Keep your thinking in the here and now. Personally, I find that some physical exercise can be a perfect accompaniment to analysing the situation, and sometimes just the spark to finding the solution. At the worst, it helps ensure that my body and physical health doesn’t suffer at the hands of a problem…a problem that I may not even own!
Another aspect of self-management is to understand when your education or your emotional awareness needs a boost. Often, depending on the subject, developing one can positively impact on the other!
3. Optimise your career by ‘keeping it real’!
The same principles apply to your career. If your career isn’t delivering, then take a look at the other aspects of your life and seek to understand the inter-dependencies; could it be that your physical or emotional well-being is having a negative impact on your career? Again, it’s about the simple step of analysing the cause and effect. If your analysis points to the fact that your job is genuinely miserable then remember to see it as just ‘the job’. Strip the emotion away and see it for what it is. This may be difficult to do if you have invested much of yourself in the role; however it is the best way to take an objective look at what is needed to take that next step. I’ve seen many people get unnecessarily depressed in their role for any number of reasons, and the fact is this impacts on your ability to think creatively about your options. If you aren’t in a position to move on, consider looking to the other parts of your life to get the stimulus needed to keep you healthy; exercise, study towards the job you want, volunteer. There are ways to ensure that an unhappy job doesn’t have a significant impact on the other parts of your life.
Above all, remember that it is ok to be down from time to time. It’s natural. However, it’s also just as natural to bounce back. By being an effective self-manager you help to keep the victim in check, and increase your resilience despite the challenges you face.