Tag Archives: Tips

year of the yin metal

3 Top Tips from Ancient Wisdom on how to exceed in 2021

Imagine having a map of the upcoming year, something to guide you forwards, to show you which roads to take, and pointing out the pot holes to avoid.

Welcome to the ancient world of Chinese Metaphysics and Wisdom. The ancient 10,000-year Chinese calendar converts each moment of time into characters, these can have a Yin or a Yang(strategic or active) component and belong to one of 5 elements (metal, water, wood, fire, or earth). The combination is unique to each hour, day, month, and year creating patterns for each moment of time, from which wisdom and insights can be gained.

What was the pattern for the year just passed, 2020 you may ask? The image was one of a heavy metal object, sinking into the cold ocean.

A few signposts, predictions I had identified were ;

  • Companies will be axed and some large ones will sink
  • The economy will decline and pessimism and despair will be seen
  • There will be more unrest and uprising amongst the people.
  • People will start to hoard
  • Lungs and mental health issues will be prominent.
year of the yin metal

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Each year I guide companies, senior management teams, and leading individuals on how to maximize the year, what to look out for, and what strategies to adopt.

In addition to the chart of the year, each one of us has our own personal chart and once we analyze both charts in conjunction, (personal and the year chart), this gives clarity on how to maximize the year for personal and professional / benefits.

chinese yin yang calendar

What’s in store for 2021? The Metal / Ox year.

2021 is the Year of the Yin Metal / Ox, and the year begins on the 3 February which is classed as the first day of spring (following the solar /farmers calendar).

The elements involved are strong water and metal, similar to 2020, which means a year of high emotion, many clashes, challenges and depression to begin with.

What is the Visual for 2021?

The year is visualized as beautiful jewels encased in ice or freshly dug out from the icycold ground. The frozen and cool jewels are mysterious and admired.

They appear cool and reserved, almost beyond reach.

The good news is there are “diamonds in the dirt” to be discovered in 2021.

However to benefit from 2021, a new mindset needs to be cultivated.

We need to dig in the correct field to find these diamonds.

Here are my 3 top tips to maximize your success in 2021.

1) It all starts with NEW thoughts!

Problems this year will be solved with new ways of thinking. The old thinking patterns will no longer work. There will be new discoveries, new solutions, new successes when the thinking patterns change; New ideas, New products, New ways of Business, New ways of living. A year to develop strong intuition and instinct. Creativity in 2021 will be high, however communication skills will be lacking. There is a feeling of preferring to hold back and not share with others.

2) Specialize

Specialize, do not generalize this year. Do not try to be good at everything. There is a need to focus on the Value you add to the world, providing solutions that are practical and that work. Many companies will want to shine, to stand out from the crowd and to be seen. Over confidence can lead to downfalls this year. Ensure the foundations are strong on which you are building the confidence.

3) Sensitivities

An emotional year and one where people do not take rejection well. Words can heal or harm, remember this in 2021. Bitter words are hurtful and once issued they cannot be taken back. Separate the issue from the person. Lead with kindness and sensitivity in 2021. Become more “human”. If Ego is high, then people become fearful, destructive and behind the scene events start to happen. The leader becomes more isolated, loses respect and is plotted against. Be hard on the issues and soft on the people

Covid will remain with us for the duration of 2021, and the vaccine will feature prominently.

Turbulent times are still ahead and so managing cash flow and considering different business models will be critical.

There will be a feeling of “every man/woman for herself” in 2021 and so team building, opening communication channels and encouraging sharing will be critical.

sally forrest

Sally Forrest is renowned for her expertise in Chinese Metaphysics and works with leading companies, families, entrepreneurs and professionals. She is also a certified Pharmacist, has an MBA and is the co-founder and CEO of SoulCentre – Asia’s Premier Personal Development Centre

healthy-relationship

6 Amazing Tips For Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships are important for many reasons. They help to improve your mood, reduce stress and increase productivity.

Research has shown that people in committed relationships experience a 49% lower mortality rate than those who are single. This provides insight into the positive effects of investing in positive relationships.

In the digital age, it is very easy to be disconnected from others. Many people spend a lot of time online and in front of their screens rather than talking to one another face-to-face. This routine can also harm your mental health as it can lead to things like loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Self-care should always be a priority for you!

healthy-relationship
Photo by Git Stephen Gitau from Pexels

6 Tips for Healthy Relationships

1. Talk, talk, talk…and then talk some more

Communication is the primary tool for a healthy relationship. It can heal broken relationships, strengthen the bond, and build new relationships. Talking, asking questions, sharing your dreams together can provide freshness, excitement and clarity to your relationship.

There are many ways to communicate with your partner in a healthy way. One of them is to speak honestly and frankly about your emotions and feelings.

Communication is essential for a healthy relationship because it allows us to share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences with those we care about. Without communication, we might not pay attention to the needs of our partners and therefore end up with a strained or unhealthy relationship.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

2. Compromise

It’s not always easy for people to compromise because they may have different expectations and needs. So, it’s necessary for couples to find a way of meeting each other in the middle without compromising their own desires and goals.

Compromise can take the form of altering plans or expressing appreciation towards each other in order to signal that they are willing to meet the other’s needs.

A word of caution: take this one with a grain of salt. Make sure you compromise on things that you are happy to compromise about. Don’t compromise in things that are really important to you. If one of you compromises something important to them, it’ll create resentment in your relationship. Find a way to negotiate something that will work for the both of you.

mutual-respect
Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

3. Mutual Respect & Honor

A friendship is a relationship that involves two people who share a mutual respect for each other. What is it about your loved one that you really cherish? A healthy relationship is one that requires both parties to honor the other person, be open-minded and kind to each other.

Healthy relationships require mutual respect and honor for them to work. When you are in a healthy relationship, both parties can quickly answer the question, ‘what do you like most about him/her?’ They also have the willingness seek opportunities to enhance their partner’s happiness.

That’s why it is so important for prospective partners to recognize their partner’s good qualities before they enter into a romantic relationship with them. This will help avoid the awkwardness of finding out some of your partner’s flaws later down the line instead of sooner before you get too invested in them.

4. Setting Boundaries

It is important for a relationship to have clear boundaries to function properly. If no boundaries exist and get communicated clearly, then the person you are dating will not know what is important to you, and then they will act in such a way that may seem as if they are pushing and making you feel like their needs should always take priority. If they know where you stand on things, then they can make the decision of whether they like it or not. If, after you have communicated your boundaries, the other person continues to push, then you know they are not the right person for you early on.

Boundaries are not a way to control the other person but, rather, it is a way of letting know the other person who you are, what you like, what’s important to you in life. Then they can do the same. If both your boundaries match, then your relationship has a good chance of success.

The need for boundaries in relationships can also ensure you both get healthy levels of autonomy and independence. Setting, clarifying, and enforcing boundaries is one way people can ensure that they maintain proper amounts of autonomy and independence in their relationships. It is also helpful because it will help avoid conflicts in the future over feeling constantly wronged or taken for granted when expectations are not met.

5. Trust

Trust is an important part of any healthy relationship. It is an intangible value that is built on the perceived reliability and good intentions of another person.

Trust can be difficult to build in a relationship because people are often not aware of each other’s intentions, which makes humans vulnerable to manipulation.

Trust in a relationship can only be achieved when both parties have:

  • A perception that the other person does not have malicious intentions
  • The assurance that their partner will communicate their feelings and thoughts honestly
  • The belief that they are able to rely on their partner’s support and help

6. Support

Support is an important part of a healthy relationship because it helps partners understand each other better and work towards solving problems.

Support comes in two main forms: physical and emotional.

Physical support includes hugging, holding hands, walking with someone, or cooking for them. In a romantic relationship it would include being interested in having your loved one’s sexual needs met. Emotional support can be expressed through words like “I’m here for you,” “I love you,” or “I care about you.”

Signs of Healthy Relationships

One sign of healthy relationships is the ability of both partners to listen more than they speak. By listening, not only are they able to pick up on what their partner is saying but also learn more about who they are as a person.

Another sign of healthy relationships is the ability for both parties to negotiate a mutually satisfying compromise, even if it means having to do something outside of their comfort zone.

If one party feels like they’re being taken advantage of in the relationship then it’s likely time for them to get therapy or coaching. If all else fails, then you can call it quits.

Tips for Managing Emotions in Relationships

Managing emotions in relationships is an important skill that can be learned and improved. This is because, with a better understanding of human emotions, we can better help others and make the most out of our relationships.

To manage your emotions, you should first identify what triggers your feelings. Then choose a way of coping with them that will work for you in the long run. Remember that, while feelings are real, often they are not based on complete information.

Another important way to control your emotions is by examining your beliefs, your intentions and your self-talk. This is where therapy comes in handy.

Lastly, take small steps every day towards becoming more emotionally intelligent so that you can benefit from this skill in all areas of your life.

What are the three C’s in a healthy relationship?

A relationship is both an opportunity for love and an opportunity for learning. There are three C’s in a healthy relationship: Communication, Compassion, and Commitment.

# Communication is the open and loving exchange of thoughts, feelings, and information.

# Compassion is when your significant other’s desires, wants and goals in life are just as important as your own.

# Commitment is when you have made a decision to give your all to the relationship, no matter what. (One exclusion to this is where your safety may be at risk)

How do you know if you’re in a healthy relationship?

For most people, a healthy relationship is one that makes them feel happy and fulfilled. There are some signs that can help you know if a relationship is healthy for you.

A healthy relationship makes you feel confident, secure, loved, and respected. In a healthy relationship you are safe to talk about those things that are important to you with your partner and be there for them when they need support.

Why Mindfulness Makes Relationships Happier and Healthier

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved through cultivating awareness and acceptance of the present moment. It helps you improve your life and relationships because it helps you become more in tune with your feelings, thoughts, and interactions.

Mindfulness can help us to maintain a healthy balance between our online and offline lives because it helps us be present in what is happening right now. It helps us tune out of distractions such as social media’s constant updates or notifications from our phones that seem to always be looking for our attention.

Conclusion

Having healthy relationships is not just limited to romantic relationships. It includes family members, friends, and co-workers. Relationships provide emotional support while also establishing social connections.

Relationships are a significant part of a person’s life. It is important to find people that we can trust and share our ideas with.

Healthy relationships make us feel complete, feel happier, and healthier. They also help us better focus on our work and personal life.

With a bit of work, the prognosis for relationships is good. There are so many ways to fix strained relationships. The tips above will help your relationships shine brighter.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

How to support mental health in the workplace

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

What you can now copy from the TOP companies like PWC and AMP on how they boost their employees’ Mental Health while improving Corporate Culture, Engagement and Profitability

Most management teams these days don’t need to be convinced that taking care of their team’s mental health is a good idea. But many managers don’t know where to start to support their employees. Here we show you what some top companies are doing in this important space, so you can copy and use what you need.

  1. These companies recognise the importance of investing in their employees’ mental health.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health disorders affect nearly one in four people each year. Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders are among the top causes of disability worldwide.1

Since people tend to spend most of their working life at work, it follows that mental health issues affect all areas of a person’s life, including work.

How to support mental health in the workplace

WHO estimates the global cost of depression and anxiety at more than $1.2 trillion per year in lost productivity. Left untreated, depression and other issues can affect absenteeism, productivity, and put workers at an increased risk of suicide.2 In short, having a reactive (or non-existent) approach to supporting mental health at work is eating up massive amounts of profits in businesses everywhere.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get help for mental health problems. Most people won’t even tell their immediate boss that there’s a problem. Up to fifty percent of people will not disclose at work. And, even more concerning, two-thirds of people who have a mental disorder won’t seek any professional treatment. Some say that the very real fear of discrimination and stigma are two gigantic obstacles that prevent people from getting help.

Mental health has long been considered an off-limits topic in the workplace. Thankfully, smart business leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of helping their employees’ stay emotionally fit. Here are three ways that top companies put mental health and well-being first.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

  1. They Teach Employees’ How To Help Struggling Co-Workers

Most people are not trained to comfortably or effectively talk to someone about their mental health, especially in the workplace. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could make matters worse. AMP, which is a global company and also one of Australia’s largest companies, helps their employees learn how to help co-workers struggling with mental health issues. The financial giant has implemented a training program, called Mental Health Essentials, that equips team members with the skills to recognize when a co-worker is struggling and to get that person appropriate help. To upskill their managers and executives they’ve also run the Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders. AMP has had this Masterclass training delivered all over Australia, the UK and the USA, with great results.

  1. They Partner With Leading Mental Health Organizations And Don’t Try To Do It All Themselves

Another way that top companies help their employees is by collaborating with trusted mental health organization’s. PWC, AMP and The Star Group partner with several well-known mental health groups, but in particular the Workplace Mental Health Institute. By working with leaders in mental health advocacy, support, and recovery, you too can learn how to proactively support your employees’ mental health, be better prepared organizationally to manage risk and safety, and be better equipped to help colleagues.

  1. They Promote A Culture Of Openness And Trust

A high level of stigma exists surrounding mental health issues. This is an ongoing problem. More than 40 percent of U.K employers believe that hiring a person with mental illness represents a significant risk to the company, according to a 2010 survey among employers. Workers with mental illness are seen as unreliable and hard to get along with.

These types of beliefs in the workplace can cause employees to be reluctant to get help. Workers who call in sick because of depression or anxiety may make up other reasons for their absence. They may believe that being honest will cause their employers to pass them over for job promotions.

This culture needs to change if employers want healthier, more productive employees. One Australian company that understands the importance of fostering an open culture when it comes to mental illness is EY. Ernst & Young has collated information of other companies that are doing well in this space and they report it’s important for companies to share knowledge and information with its managers, supervisors, and employees about mental illness. The company that does well promotes an open dialogue when it comes to talking about mental illness. According to EY, openness and proactive early intervention result in decreased mental-health related claims.

As an employer, there’s a lot that you can do to support your employees’ mental health. Try some of the things that the world’s top companies are doing to support workers’ mental health. You’ll see what a difference these changes can make to your organization and your employees’ well-being.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

WMHI-Lessons-Learned

Focus on the Learning, Not the Lesson

Does your workplace see mistakes as the learning opportunities?

A friend from my days as a psychologist in the Army once told me about her role as a counsellor for Army recruits. Twenty-five years ago recruit training methods were, well, different to what they are today. Many recruits found the style of their instructors to be intimidating and scary, leading some of them to have second thoughts about their worthiness to be a soldier. Upon seeking some guidance, recruits would reflect that they weren’t cut out for the role.

WMHI-Lessons-Learned

Imagine the recruit’s instructor has said to the recruits, “Right you lazy lot, get your useless behinds to the mess hall, make sure you eat ‘cos you’re going to need something to puke up this morning in training, then be back here in 15 minutes, or you’ll be scrubbing the showers with your toothbrushes!”. The recruit, understandably, explains to my friend that they don’t feel their instructor has much faith in them. (This ineffective training style has thankfully disappeared from recruit training establishments!)

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

My friend would ask them to tell her what it was that the instructor had actually asked them to do.

  • “Go eat breakfast, then be back in 15 minutes”, would come the reply.
  • “And what happens if you focus on the other stuff they’ve said?”
  • “I feel horrible, can hardly eat, and just want to go home”.
  • “Does that help you to achieve your training goals?”
  • “No.”
  • “What difference would it make if you were only to focus on the message, but not the delivery?”

The recruit’s face would visibly shift with the new thought, “I’d know what they wanted me to do, but I wouldn’t take all the other stuff to heart”.

Thankfully the majority of us do not experience this degree of ferociousness in the feedback we get at work. Regardless, the principle is the same – focus on the message, not the delivery. The delivery does not change the message, only the impact of the message, so if that impact is not helpful try to focus just on the message. Reframe the message in a way that is positive rather than negative. Instead of “My boss hates it when I ramble in my emails”, think, “My boss prefers brief emails”.

Those of us who are managers can focus on identifying what an individual needs to learn in order to avoid repeating a mistake. In providing performance management, the error will be a part of the discussion, but not the focus of the discussion – effective work behaviour is the focus. Some workplaces do not see mistakes as the learning opportunities they present, but in an environment where the employee’s manager is able to coach them through the lessons learned, the result is an employee who is better prepared to apply the new knowledge to their advantage.

When the culture is that of blame the focus is on the mistake, or the lesson – when the organization has a coaching culture the focus is on the next step, or the learning.

Author: Alison Skate
Alison Skate author

Alison Skate is a Workplace Mental Health Specialist for Workplace Mental Health Institute. She began her career as a psychologist in the Australian Army more than twenty years ago. Alison is a leadership coach and workshop facilitator.

Peter-Diaz-with-Steve-Wozniak

My Main Peeve About Workplace Mental Health and what Steve Wozniak (co founder of Apple) told me about it

I’m a pretty positive guy. I actively practice positivity and this builds resilience. But today, just today, I have to share one of my peeves, if that’s ok. Most people I meet intellectually know and agree that mental health at work is important and vital to get good results. But the thing that frustrates me and annoys me the most, my main peeve about workplace mental health, is that I have to ‘convince’ people to actually take action and do something about it. REALLY? Can you believe it? If people truly understood and believed that taking care of your employees is important, and will give you better business results, then why don’t they do anything about it? Even the research clearly shows that every dollar spent in mental health and wellbeing has an average of 230% return on investment! (and we get a much higher ROI than that!)

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Yet people are slow to act, while their profits are silently drained out of the businesses, and employees are quietly (or not so quietly) burning out. I recently interviewed STEVE WOZNIAK, Apple co-founder with Steve Jobs, and asked him what he thought about this. He confirms it – investing in wellbeing and mental health of your employees is a no-brainer. In the interview, he shares a little about his experience with and thoughts on mental health and psychology, both at Apple, and when he returned to Uni later on (under a false name)! What I love about Steve Wozniak is that he is such a great, down-to-Earth guy. He has family here in Australia, so hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up again on his next visit! This interview is interesting both from a mental health angle and also a human angle. Have a look.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Develop-Resilience-at-Workplace

8 Tips On How To Develop Resilience For Surviving The Modern Workplace Mentally Healthy

One way to notice a well-adjusted and mentally healthy employee is through his or her resilience. By resilience we mean the ability individuals have to bounce back quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Resilient employees have the capacity to handle the strains of the contemporary workplace. This means that they can manage stress well without necessarily placing their jobs in jeopardy. Resilience is good for workplace mental health. It allows an individual to respond to the demands of life without succumbing to pressure. Resilience also allows employees to deal with the demands of their jobs especially if the job requires them to change their priorities often and regularly. The ability to cope with the stresses and adversities of work and daily life requires a change in attitude and thoughts. But, how do you do that? Here are a few ways that employees can develop resilience at work:

Develop-Resilience-at-Workplace

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

  1. Create and appreciate positive relationships. By appreciating the existing social support you get at work, you become more able to develop positive relationships in the workplace. These positive relationships come in handy later when you need encouragement, which fosters your ability to cope and your resilience as a human being.
  2. Practice viewing obstacles as opportunities or challenges. What can you learn from this situation? Employees can learn to treat difficulties as a platform for learning rather than as an impediment to their careers. Developing the habit of transforming challenges into opportunities is an invaluable skill that leads to self-development, resilience and progress.
  3. Celebrate success, even small ones. Celebrating success and small victories every time they occur fosters resilience. Employees should carve out some time in their day to enjoy the highs in their careers. This trains employees brains to look for the positive and to look forward to possible future successes in their line of work rather than dwell on the negatives or difficulties of their job.
  4. Craft a plan. Developing viable and meaningful career objectives that have a sense of purpose for the individual allows employees to bridge work and other life goals. In this way, they are encouraged to develop resilience even in the heart of adversity as they are working towards a motivating personalised objective.
  5. Develop more confidence. Building levels of self-confidence allow employees to live in the knowledge that they are going to succeed eventually. Despite the drawbacks that may occur, confidence enables people to take risks in their personal life and their careers, which give them the energy to move forward in life.
  6. Learn to see things from a different angle. Resilient people know how to develop perspective, which enables them to understand that although a circumstance may seem overwhelming and impossible to maneuver now, it will not seem so later; ‘in the long run, it’ll all work out for the best’.
  7. Restructure your mind. Learning how to handle tough situations requires, at times, a complete restructuring of the mind. Bad days are inevitable, and learning how to react to them without blowing things out of proportion is part of being resilient.
  8. Be flexible. Flexibility enables resilient people to understand that things are never be constant. As such, being flexible allows people to shift and amend their goals at an appropriate, and healthy, speed.

Resilience is an invaluable skill to have in the workplace as it allows one to handle the difficulties that arise from working in a stressful environment. At the Workplace Mental Health Institute we take resilience very important. It’s a key protector of people’s mental health. Help your employees develop resilience and you immunize them from mental health problems.

Would you like to learn more? We run mental health courses on resilience. Our most popular course is the Building Resilience At Work. Check it out.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Workplace loyalty is dead?

Workplace loyalty is dead. Or is it?

Looking around at today’s organization and it would seem as though employee loyalty to their organization and organizations’ loyalty to their employees is dead. For many of today’s workforce, the greener grass at the other company or new position is too tempting to pass up. In fact, a recent study by LinkedIn showed that Millennials, those who reach adulthood in the 20th century, will work for nearly twice as many companies in the first five years of their career than their parents did. What’s more, today the average person will have twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime. Is this the nail in the coffin for loyalty?

Did you check our Mental Health Courses?

Workplace loyalty is dead?

A look at history

In the not-so-distant past, loyalty in the workplace meant remaining at the same company throughout a person’s career. During much of the 20th century, employees would work their entire career for one or two employers and in return, the organization would give their employees the unspoken promise of lifetime employment and a pension retirement. With the popularity of unionisation throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, collective bargaining agreements and the promise of steady raises and consistent employment held employees to their companies during uncertain economic times where double digit inflation was the norm. However, as the grip of unions began to loosen in the 1990’s in favor of human resource departments and individual performance reviews, employee loyalty began to loosen as well. With the advent of the internet and the expansion of a global economy, suddenly labor costs could be cut dramatically by hiring a less expensive workforce in another country and a company’s loyalty to their workers at home was cast aside in favor of global expansion and rising profits.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Redefining Loyalty

While it is tempting to assume that in today’s economy, it is impossible for organizations to show loyalty to their employees, it perhaps is more important to redefine what loyalty looks like in the 21st century. Where our parents and grandparents showed loyalty to their company by doing their job tirelessly for 30 or 40 years, today’s worker is more likely to look for ways to use their individual talents on behalf of the organization. Whether they are looking for innovative ways to solve a problem, creating effective work teams or helping employees reach their own career potential, today’s workers are driven by a need to see how their work relates to the organizational objectives as a whole. Managers who use performance reviews to discuss how an individual’s goals relate to the overall organizational mission will be rewarded with loyalty to that objective. Such loyalty is arguably more productive in today’s fast-paced business environment and contributes to a strong workplace culture.

Loyalty can also be defined as compensating employees fairly for the work they are completing. Too many companies rely on their organizational mission for their compensation strategy, arguing that contributing to their purpose should be enough to combat unfair wages. In reality, organizations who compensate their employees fairly and who have clearly defined objectives for bonuses and raises are more likely to retain their employees.

While it is nice to talk about organization-wide strategies for both garnering and showing loyalty, applying these principles on a team level may be even more important. While more than 30% of Fortune 500 chief executives have lasted less than three years over the course of the last two decades, research from the Gallup organization shows that employee engagement, a common indicator of productivity, has declined across industries over the last decade. Since top-down initiatives cannot function if senior leadership is in constant fluctuation, the lot falls to mid-level managers to foster team loyalty:

  1. Identify and reiterate the team’s purpose. Align the team’s short and long-term goals with organizational strategy that will help team members see how their success contributes to the business as a whole.
  2. Encourage open discussion without blame or shame. Creating an environment where ideas, opinions, successes and failures can be shared without fear of negative repercussions fosters a sense of loyalty amongst a team’s members.
  3. Ask more questions than you answer. Casting a wide net throughout the team for feedback and input allows everyone to express their feelings and work toward a consensus.
  4. Openly praise success. Both individual and team-based success should be frequently praised in public when objectives are achieved.

While it is unlikely a person will end their career with the same company they began it with, loyalty to a team or organization is not dead. Instead, it has a new face that is reflective of a fast-paced, changing economy.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

How-to-avoid

How to Avoid Taking on Too Much Work

4 reasons why you can’t say no to too much work

Let’s say you find yourself tasked with leading a new project – say it’s the rollout of a company-wide performance management system.

In your first strategy meeting your team determines that you need to conduct interviews with managers, create and validate metrics for making hiring and promotion decisions, and work with senior leaders to ensure the system is in keeping with corporate culture.

How-to-avoid

As you begin to divide tasks, you volunteer to conduct the interviews because you are the project manager and you want to lead from the front. Then, you offer to take a second look at the metrics to give them a “second set of eyes”. Then, since you are leading the team, you begin meeting with senior leaders too. Before long you start to struggle to meet your commitments, and feel a growing resentment toward the rest of the team for not pulling their weight.

Does this pattern sound familiar to you? Outside of the specifics of the performance management project example, many of us take on too much work and this leads to resentment.

We often give a hundred reasons why we do take on so much work, to the point of not being able to do any of it well. However, they can generally be distilled into three categories.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

We want to please

Regardless of whether you classify yourself as a “people pleaser” or not, everyone loves to feel needed and appreciated. However, typically people who struggle to say, “No” to a request have an intense fear of rejection or a fear of failure. Our early life experiences with especially harsh or critical parents can often result in the feeling that your inaction will result in the disappointment of your friends or colleagues. The desire to please is also deeply connected with anxiety, resentment, passive aggressive behavior, stress, and depression.

We have a lack of self-awareness

Self-awareness is one of those terms that everyone loves to throw around but few will do the difficult work to acquire. When we don’t have a good handle on our own capacity or ability level, it is easy to underestimate how much effort a certain task will require from us. If you continuously make work decisions with a lack of self-awareness, you will often find yourself buried under a mountain of tasks you do not have the ability to complete in a timely and efficient manner.

We don’t think we have a choice

The idea that you do not have a choice whether to take on a task is partly connected to a need to please and often connected to feelings of insecurity or anxiety. Once you begin making work decisions based on feelings of helplessness, resentment and anger soon follow. Before long, you are left feeling “stuck” or “trapped” in your job, even if it is something you previously enjoyed.

What to do instead

Fortunately, there are a few easy strategies to avoid taking on too much at work. First, learn how to wait. Often times people who take on too much do not wait for others to volunteer. Unless the task is something you are excited about, count to 20 and really consider the task before agreeing to it. Second, when faced with a person asking you to do something, ask three questions.

1. What is the specific task that is being requested? Many people love to make requests without completely formulating the task in question. When you ask a requester this question, it forces them to list out the particulars of the task at hand and allow you to determine if it is within your skill set and timeline or not.

2. Will I need to learn a new skill to complete this task? There are times in our careers when we are ready and able to learn a new skill that will benefit us in the long run. If your current workload allows for the time and effort it would require to learn a new skill and if you are interested in the new skill, go for it. If not, politely decline.

3. How does this task fit into my overall workload? If you have to juggle your existing schedule for anything other than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it’s okay to say “no” instead.

As difficult as it may be to say “no” at work, consider it a long-term investment in your career. Not only will you be perceived as an honest individual, you will be able to reliably meet the deadlines and demands placed on you. Feelings of anger and resentment will melt away and you may even find yourself with more time to pursue career advancement or skill development.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

trust-fall

Does Your Boss Have Your Back?

Let’s start with a couple of hypothetical scenarios.

  1. You have just been given a large project at work. You are excited at the level of responsibility you have been given and the opportunity to show your manager and colleagues what you can really do. As you begin to dig into the work, you discover just how much you are taking on. Overwhelmed at the possibility of failure, you begin to wonder – did your manager give you this project because they trust you to get the job done, or are they setting you up to fail?
  2. You’ve been asked to lead a change in your department. Try as you might, you can’t seem to get traction. You begin to feel trapped between direct reports who are resistant to your efforts and managers who expect change to come swiftly and seamlessly. What do you do?
trust-fall

Whether you feel like you are being sabotaged in the workplace or you are questioning the authenticity of your managers’ requests, it is important to realize that everyone experiences a certain amount of workplace paranoia from time to time. Today’s competitive economy seems to breed workplaces where managers and employees alike are feeling more pressure than ever to perform at a maximum level, 100 percent of the time.

In reality, our feelings of uncertainty are driving our perceptions of our workplace relationships rather than reality. As a result, the way we handle the situation is likely based on our perception rather than reality as well.


Read more on workplace strategies and leadership…


Let’s take these two scenarios and examine what might really be going on.

SCENARIO 1

Perception: Your manager has placed you in charge of a large project. Overwhelmed by the vastness of what you are being asked to do, you wonder if they are setting you up to fail. Feeling defeated and abandoned, you likely react in one of two ways. Either you attempt to buckle down and do your job, but find yourself on edge or miserable. Or you admit defeat, update your resume, and chalk your experience up to your terrible manager.

Reality: Your manager is terrible at reading your mind. Chances are, they have no idea that you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about your ability to complete the project or lead the team or do the task. Fortunately, most managers do not want to set their teams up for failure but instead are happy to mentor their employees during particularly difficult projects or transitions. Rather than trying to go it alone or giving up, bring your concerns to them and ask for help regarding next steps.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

SCENARIO 2

Perception: As a change agent in your organization, you are caught between employees who are resistant to your ideas and bosses who expect huge changes in a short amount of time. You begin to wonder if you will be able to keep your job or if you will become the latest casualty of the organization.

Reality: If you are undergoing organizational change, chances are your manager is too. It is entirely likely that they’re feeling unsupported by their managers while experiencing resistance from their subordinates. Without realizing it, managers can pass on their own feelings of corporate paranoia, especially during large scale change. Rather than assuming your manager is asking you to do the impossible while leaving you to manage your department’s change on your own, discuss how you can strategically support one another.

If you are still uncertain as to whether your boss has your back, schedule an opportunity to informally discuss your specific situation with them. Go for coffee, ask if they are happy with how your team is functioning. Ask for feedback on whether you should be doing things differently over a casual lunch. Regardless of the setting, be sure you own your perceptions for what they are – your interpretation of the situation. Begin the discussion by asking for clarification, rather than confronting your manager with what you perceive as reality. Not only does this open the lines of communication, it helps you both understand how your personal bias has affected your situation.

You may be surprised to find out that they had your back all along.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Top-3-Tips-for-HR-Managers

Top 3 Tips for HR Managers

Recently, I was asked by a National HR Director for three tips she could give to a meeting of HR Leaders. She only had one hour. Here are my top three tips (mind you, these are the ones that come to the top of my mind straight away but by no means the only ones! Any surprises?

The top three tips I would give are:

1. Don’t be in a hurry to send people home

– often, when someone has expressed some problems with mental health, managers panic and their first response is to send someone home. In fact, that is not necessarily the best thing for the person’s well being nor for the business. If the person goes home, they can start ruminating about challenges at work, feeling like a failure for not being able to perform at the level they want to, and returning to work becomes harder and harder.

Top-3-Tips-for-HR-Managers

Statistically, once a person has been absent due to stress of mental ill-health for more than 3 days, the likelihood of them returning to work is very slim. We know staying at work is better for their mental health. And for the business, when someone has gone home, others have to pick up the extra work, leading to more pressure on those team members, and resentment towards the absent person (or their manager). It’s much better if you can work with the person to negotiate a way they can stay at work – perhaps some reasonable adjustments are needed for a certain period of time. But in order to navigate these conversations, managers have to have good skills and a solid understanding of the complexities of mental health issues.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

2. Play nice and be kind

– given the research shows that between 20-30% of people will experience a mental health issue each year, it is not anything to be frowned upon, or which should be a surprise for managers. It doesn’t discriminate according to your job position either. It just as likely could be a supervisor, a senior manager, or the CEO who is going through something challenging like this. So when we are responding to mental health in the workplace, we need to consider how we would like to be treated if it was us? The relationship that the staff member has with their direct supervisor is the most critical indicator of how a mental health problem will impact the workplace. Whether it is a small matter that gets dealt with early, or whether it unravels and becomes a psychological injury claim. Managers need to watch their own frustration with people experiencing mental ill-health, in order to manage it in the best way possible. This takes a high degree of resilience and emotional intelligence.

3. Have higher expectations of people with mental health problems

– returning again to the statistics of 20-30% or people, that means that up to a third of your workforce may be experiencing mental health problems in any one year. Mental health problems may impact on their work, but for many people work becomes a safe haven, where they can feel productive and contribute. Just having a mental health problem does not necessarily mean the person has lost any intelligence, skills or capability. However they may need some extra support. At the WMHI our position is that we need to support employees to meet the expected level of performance, rather than lower the expectations. This is another conversation that managers need to be able to have skilfully.

That is what I’d like to communicate to your managers too. If this sounds right to you, I’d be happy to have a chat with you about these concepts if you think it would be useful.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo