Leading ‘sustainable engagement’ in the workplace

By | Engagement, Leadership, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

The wealth of your business is reflected in the health of you!

If we take inspiration from successful sports teams, our natural aspirations to do well and be successful is something that is multifaceted and embedded into the daily habits and rhythm of life and should also come with a rule book, just like any sport!

The optimal performance of human beings is simple to communicate and share (the wisdom on social media), yet harder to achieve and embed in life.

Over the years many scientific and management studies have provided evidence on how to engage and motivate your people, build high performing teams, told us what to eat, do, think, say and why we should do it! However, with all the best-selling books, well-intentioned advice from experts, proven research, that often gets updated, we still find ourselves in an escalating health dilemma. We see more people in workplaces experiencing an energy crisis, there is an unease within various socio and economic ecosystems, and we are witnessing a decline in performance and productivity in some countries.

“In 2014, US workers worked the most hours per week, followed by Japan, Canada, and the UK. An overall downwards trend can be observed across countries for hours worked” (1)

So, we know more, do more, have more, fill our days working more, yet the very thing that we seek to become — successful, productive, healthy human beings, is moving further away at an unrelenting pace from the masses, or bare minimum sticking on autopilot.

The World Health Organisation predicts that workplace stress, depression and burnout will top the world’s most prevalent diseases by 2020.

Engaged people feel well. To be well and do well is a daily practice based on a few simple principles of moving, resting, recharging and reflecting. These need to be embraced by you and your team(s) at all levels in the workplace, with the ultimate intention to role model better and healthier ways of working and living, if you wish to create sustainable engagement from your people and a thriving workplace(2).

I get it. I do. You feel like you are on your own at times, striving, fighting back. You have targets to hit, costs to reduce, customers to serve, people to engage and motivate and policies and processes to simplify.

You find yourself racing from meeting to meeting, going faster on the road, treadmill, and barely taking a breath, and yet you crave more time to make better decisions, seek creative solutions, create white space in your diary to spend with high performing teams to have deep conversations and spend time with the people you serve — your customers. You don’t need to fight back! Where is the fight taking you? It’s the very shadow of the organisation that has become tired and drained of all energy. Start to conserve your energy for something much bigger. There is another way. A better way.

Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.

I invite you to join me and adopt new management practices into your workplace and re-write the rules.

Drawing on over a decade of leading research by the LSE with McKinsey & Company, Stanford University, and more recently other participants…Results have consistently shown a statistically significant correlation between good (management) practices and firm performance: well-run companies are in general more productive, profitable, and have higher sales growth than those with inferior practices. (1)

38,000 feet in the air on a flight back from Sydney I listened to the airline safety video expressing the need to ensure your oxygen mask is on before helping others. This is a great metaphor for optimal performance and being well, particularly when the majority of your daily journey is served in the workplace.

Create your + rule book for performance in an engaged workplace:

  • Develop your set of personal and professional rules that give a framework for each day and be consistent. It may be that all calls you take are standing. You value the energy and presence of your team, so in meetings, all phones are banned. You know the importance of good food to keep you energised, so you gather with colleagues and create the time just to eat.
  • When you prioritise your energy requirements to perform at your best, you, in turn, prioritise others.
  • Focus on the decisions you want to make and space (time and environment) required to make them, and in turn, you empower others to do the same.
  • Carve out white space in your diary to re-charge and re-focus daily and others will come to you with comprehensive and creative solutions

I’m not a deep expert in any area of health and wellbeing; I am a practitioner of wellness for sustainable human performance in work and life. An unconventional and former Human Resources (HR) professional who is moving further from the term ‘Human Resources’ to valuing that our place of work requires a ‘Human Performance’ team to support and enhance performance rather than supply the people! I am on a quest to find a better way of working and living, that is different to the current way because let’s be honest it isn’t working out that well!

sources: (1) The Power of Productivity Report, Dec 2016 by Dr Alexander Grous, London School of Economics and Political Science. (2) Workplace Wellness that Works by Laura Putnam

Why 10 days of silence felt loud!

By | Flow, Pause, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

I went for peace & became more productive

As I sat in the hall on the fourth day, you could hear a needle drop, yet in my head, the big band were only just getting started, and the constant beat of thoughts was creating a ripple effect of how I sat in stillness.
The decision to go was not something I took lightly. In fact, at the time I felt I was under immense pressure at work, experiencing daily panic attacks and suffering from chronic stress. On top of that, I was trying to be a great wife, mother and friend with barely enough energy for all. Something had to change. I went to learn, to change my mindset and to experience something that is rare — slowing down!

– You’re irresponsible; you won’t stick at this, you’re going crazy, you’re too trusting, run away, get out, get out, get out!

As I rolled into day six, the band was in full swing, and I wanted to throw in the towel, or cushion I had been perched on for 6 hours each day. I was distressed and confused. I had gone expecting to find peace through slowing down, yet it was, even more, louder in the slow lane. I scribbled frantically in the writing pad by the hall entrance to seek support from one the team. Within moments of writing it, I was approached and helped, Anna helped me make sense of what was going on in my mind, and at that moment the shift took place.

“You get to a place where you begin to be guided by something greater than yourself. You stop fighting and striving (indeed the need to expend this type of energy is often a strong indicator that you are not in flow and where you are meant to be) and instead, surrender to your higher purpose and be guided from there, allowing things to happen, trusting in source, focusing on your why and letting go of the how…”
― Wayne W. Dyer, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning

My inner dialogue that had been faint, yet humming in the background for years, often blurring into the hyperconnected web of life was now fully present and at maximum volume. It had my attention, and my role was to sit with it for the next four days and not react. Walk a little slower, explore this noise and create a new melody.

On day ten I stepped out the meditation hall with belief and relief. As I drove through the tranquil valley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park back home, the world looked and felt very different. My awareness within was now reflected in the outer world.

The days that following was about integrating back into the hustle and bustle of day to day life and at times, the overload of my senses. I did this gradually, yet the smell of paint fumes, to my surprise, was the hidden secret of those ten days in silence. I stood proudly in my newly decorated bedroom. What usually have taken two days had taken me half a day. I was surprised by the level of focus and flow, but not as surprised as my husband who thought I had got decorators in!

So when I need to boost my productivity, focus and flow, I minimise the distractions from the outer world and explore what is going on inside.