Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 30, 2015

Do You Set Boundaries At Work?

Do You Set Boundaries At Work?

Healthy Boundaries I

 I’ve struggled with setting boundaries all of my working life. It doesn’t help that I am a 5.1” female, an introvert and “soft-spoken”. So, when Charity Village sent me an invitation to a webinar on how to create healthy boundaries my curiosity was piqued. It seems that I am not alone in my ongoing struggle to set and maintain my personal boundaries. What I hadn’t thought of before, but I learned from presenter Sheena Greer, is that many of the problems we face in the modern workplace could be resolved if only we would all manage our boundaries.

What are personal boundaries and how do we go about setting them?

Personal boundaries are guidelines that we create to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used or violated by others. These boundaries (which are invisible) also allow us to separate who we are from the other people in our lives, when we need to set limits.

8 Reasons to Learn How to Set Limits at Work:

  1. Helps build strong, respectful relationships
  2. Increases productivity 
  3.  Builds accountability within the team
  4. Helps create shared goals and expectations
  5. Sets people at ease
  6.  Improves communication
  7.  Prevents workplace bullying
  8.  Minimizes misunderstandings

In addition to the 8 reasons above, which Sheena Greer provided in the webinar, I would like to add three more:

  1. Alleviates individual stress
  2. Reduces time off due to illness
  3. Increases confidence

All of us have boundary issues at some point in life. Saying yes when you really mean to say no, acting against your beliefs or values or staying quiet to keep the peace are just three examples.

In the workplace issues related to poor “boundary management” could be caused by,

  • Unclear job descriptions
  • Useless or unproductive meetings that waste people’s time
  • Poor leadership
  • Workplace bullying

This is a BIG topic so I’ll continue on in the next post and talk about what we can do to create our own personal boundaries and how we can maintain them in the long run.

The Dynamic Introvert

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Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 13, 2015

Do You Need A Career Detox? Part II

Do You Need A Career Detox? Part II

 “Twice a year, I get out of the office, breaking from my normal routine, for much needed “Think Weeks.” By actively disconnecting and looking at everything from 50,000 feet, I am able to effectively reflect, reset, and clearly rethink my goals and aspirations….For each “Think Week,” I create a life to-do list, do a lot of research, and think through big ideas and challenges deeply. Going through this process has been enlightening” Bill Gates

In my last post I introduced the idea of taking a career detox or retreat. Today I’d like to explore five things that you can do to make your detox a success:

  1. Identifying your detox goals
  2. Preparation
  3. The Right Environment
  4. What to do while on your detox
  5. Post Detox

1.Goals: What do you want to achieve? Are you looking for more energy? Do you need to rethink your career goals? Are you in need of a complete career overhaul? Perhaps you like the company that you work for but the job isn’t doing it for you anymore. Or, you may feel like you are just going through the motions and you really need to rethink your life.

2. Preparation: It’s not likely that you will find many places specializing in career detoxes so you will probably have to create your own retreats. There are a great many retreat centres all over the world, many of these offer spiritual retreats or business oriented retreats that specialize in leadership development, team building or coaching. I suspect that the latter include daily programs that are non-negotiable and that do not allow much time for to be on your own…which is what you want in a detox program. As you prepare to go away let people know you won’t be available for a day or a few days. Decide what to take with you: paper, pens, a tablet or computer, books, art supplies, etc. Perhaps more importantly decide how long and for how often you want to be “unplugged” and honor this commitment to yourself.

3. Environment: Make sure that you select your location and environment very carefully based on the outcomes you want to achieve. If you live in a city you might want to find a place in the country or vice versa. Even if you can’t leave the city I recommend that you spend some time outdoors. Walking is a great way to unleash your creative juices.

4. What to do? Engaging in some form of exercise and eating healthy foods are the foundation of the Herbal Detox program and provide a strong foundation for a personal retreat. This will make it easier for you to reflect on your life and your work. We get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we lose our objectivity—we can no longer accurately assess our situations. Self-reflection is an underrated activity that we can learn how to do.

5. Post detox: First off congratulate yourself for taking time to focus on your life and your career. Keep your new vision and plans close by and refer to them regularly.

The last word on this subject goes to author Laurie Helgoe, who writes, “Whatever retreats you design for yourself, do them regularly. Protect them. Put them on your calendar and tell others you will not be available during these times. Turn off your phone.”

 

The Dynamic Introvert

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 3, 2015

Do You Need A Career Detox?

Do You Need a Career Detox?

According to the dictionary a detox is a period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. You may need a career detox if you are working in a toxic environment or have adopted unhealthy behaviors that are stressing you out or dragging you down.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of detoxifying my body and once or twice a year and I use the Wild Rose Herbal Detox program. This detox program helps eliminate toxins that accumulate in the body. The Wild Rose Detox doesn’t restrict calories but does require a conscious decision to cut out refined sugars, refined flour and dairy for a 12 day period.

According to the Mayo Clinic website “many people claim to feel better after detoxification…perhaps, due in part to the fact that a detox diet eliminates highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar. Simply avoiding these high-calorie low-nutrition foods for a few days may be part of why people feel better.”

I hadn’t considered a career detox until I read about the concept in an article while I was visiting family in the UK. Since then I have noticed the words career detox popping up in various articles and blog posts.

The benefits of engaging in a period away from work are many and include:

  • renewed energy
  • feeling revitalized
  • improved focus
  • reduced stress.

The list of reasons for detoxing will be different for all of us.

Vacations used to be a time for recharging but in recent years many of us don’t take our full vacation opting instead to be paid out. And when we do manage to get away we are usually with family or friends leaving little time for reflection. If this is the case you may need to set aside time to focus on the health of your career!

Do you need a career detox? Here are a 4 questions to get you started:

  1. Are you finding it difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning?
  2. Do you find yourself feeling frustrated or angry when things don’t go your way at work?
  3. Do you lack energy for the things that used to excite you?
  4. Are you experiencing more stress than usual?

If you answered yes to all or most of these questions you may be in need of a career detox!

Your detox can be any length of time but ideally it will allow you space to reflect on where you are in your career, what you need to change to improve things in the short term, and where you may want to go next.

The Dynamic Introvert

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 20, 2015

The Key to Employee Engagement is FLOW!

The Key to Employee Engagement is FLOW!

 What is FLOW and why should we be concerned about it? A recent Blessing White survey revealed that 75% of employees are disengaged. According to Google,

“Employee engagement is a measure used by organizations around world to determine whether or not employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, are motivated to contribute and are able to enhance their own sense of well-being.”

So, why are so many of us disengaged and what does FLOW have to do with any of this?

FLOW was first identified as an important aspect of one’s quality of life by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in what has become a classic and a widely read book on the subject, FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

But FLOW is actually more likely to happen to us while we are working.

The University of Kent’s career services website describes FLOW as “the state reached when we are so immersed in an activity that we cease to notice the passage of time and have deep, effortless involvement.”

It appears that entering the FLOW state and being engaged in our work are very similar. Both involve:

  •  Having clear goals that are achievable but that stretch us to learn new things
  • Having the resources, skills and tools to be able to achieve our goals
  • Receiving feedback on a regular basis so that we know how we are doing
  • Having a sense of control over what we are doing

We also know that FLOW and employee engagement are less likely to happen in organizations that are characterized by GREED, CUTTING CORNERS (as in reduced quality and safety standards) and IGNORING BOTH EMPLOYEE & CUSTOMER’s NEEDS.

FLOW is an important component of one’s quality of work life. People want to find meaning and value in their work and they want to make a difference.

How do we go about improving FLOW?

  1.  Create a work environment that brings out the best in people, one that enables people to continue learning, growing and developing.
  2.  Start using Strengths Based Interviewing instead of the more familiar competency based approached.

What is strength based interviewing?

Strength based interviews take the emphasis away from what the candidate can do and focuses instead on what they enjoy doing. It looks at interests rather than behaviors in an effort to make a better candidate/role match. The psychology behind it is straightforward – if you are working in a way that you really enjoy, focusing on tasks that interest you then you will remain more motivated, be more productive and generally be happier at work. That’s a win-win for the employer and the employee.

When a candidate is using their strengths they are more likely to enter a flow state and exhibit the following:

  •  a real sense of energy and engagement
  • rapidly learn new information and approaches, and
  • demonstrate high levels of performance

 

 

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | June 29, 2015

Is Your Workplace Authentic?

Is Your Workplace Authentic?

And more to the point, would our workplaces be healthier if we were all more authentic?

 

Deni Roman

Deni Roman

What exactly is authenticity? According to an online dictionary it means to be “real” or “genuine”. I would characterize an authentic workplace as being one that values openness, learning, honesty and respect. And, in order to be authentic, both individuals and the places they work need to be open to ongoing feedback and improvement. It makes sense that a healthy workplace is made up of authentic people.

But knowing one’s true self is not that easy. In fact it is a life long journey of discovery aided by certain people, events or milestones in our lives.  Although there have been many of these enlightening events in my life none have been as transformative as the one that happened when I was in my early twenties.

Unbeknownst to me I had adopted many of my mother’s negative behaviors. Probably the most damaging was the tendency to complain about everyone and everything. I had no idea how bad it was until my friend Norma blurted out one day, “you sound just like your mother”. It felt like a slap in the face.

That wake-up call changed my life and was the beginning of years of self-exploration and attempts on my part to become more of my own person. Sometimes we are fortunate to have friends or guides who care enough to tell us what we need to know in order to grow and develop.

Sometimes this awareness of self comes from reading books or taking courses. For many of us it begins in high school when we find ourselves engaged in formal career exploration programs.

And we will likely find ourselves continuing this process of self-discovery when we enter the workplace especially if we plan on assuming a formal leadership role or are a member of a team. Many people find a personal development plan helpful as they work through this process.

In The Dynamic Introvert I devote an entire chapter to the subject of creating a personal leadership development plan and make suggestions for what to include:

  • Vision, purpose, values
  • Personality traits
  • Strengths and areas for improvement
  • Goals and action plans
  • Legacy

Of course everyone’s plan will be different but I believe that these building blocks are found in most leadership development plans.

And, although the above items are important for you to explore and understand, knowing your values and acting in ways that are congruent is the hallmark of authenticity.

Psychologists tell us that people who score high on authenticity also report a strong sense of self-worth, purpose, confidence and the ability to achieve their goals.  These qualities in themselves make it worthwhile for you to strive to be more authentic.

We have all worked with people who have no idea of how they impact the people around them. These are colleagues or leaders who lack confidence, project blame on others, feel the need to be right all the time and generally make the workplace less healthy.

Of course authenticity is a goal…something to strive for. None of us is perfect!  We may not like what we discover about ourselves but self-knowledge is invaluable and the basis for making constructive changes in our lives.   Changes that will lead to increased happiness and satisfaction for ourselves and those we work with.

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 31, 2015

The Millennials are Transforming Our World!

The Millennials are Transforming Our World! By Lesley Taylor

I’ve been fascinated by Millennials for a while now. According to some experts this generation, which was born between 1980 and 1997, will make up 75% of the total workforce in North America by 2025, and they are already moving into leadership roles. In fact, they will be in charge of most of our organizations in the very near future.

Some people will tell you that the millennial generation is selfish, overly confident, lazy and demanding. This is why they are called the “me” generation.

But, I believe that Generation Y is worth getting to know. Their values are not unlike the values of their parent’s generation in that both generations value their independence and believe that they can change the world.

But this is where the similarities stop. When the Boomers were coming of age the use of technology as we know it today was found only in science fiction books and the workplace was pretty much static. Loyalty was big and most Boomers stayed with their employers for years if not for their entire careers.

Fast forward to today when change is the only constant in the world, workers are no longer guaranteed jobs for life and technology is every present.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the fact that many businesses push their employees to the limit by demanding extended working hours and unhealthy working conditions. Earlier generations fought long and hard to reduce the workweek and ensure fair and safe working conditions. But there are constant attempts to erode earlier gains in labor standards.

A recent example of this can be found in this week’s Fast Company blog in which Jay Zagorsky writes about a future in which employees are paid exorbitant salaries to work extremely long hours. Not only will employees be working long hours according to his report but they will be working long hours without needing to take time off for breaks!

In order to accomplish this feat, employees will be provided with free meals and other services (dry cleaning) so that they don’t have to leave their desks, and all of this with the goal of increasing efficiency. There are some obvious problems with this scenario of the future of work including the fact that people are increasingly working from home or other remote locations. In addition we know from years of experience that people become less efficient after working for 40 hours or more. Not to mention the negative impact on our health!

This is where the Millennials will make their greatest contributions!

In a recent interview in Business in Vancouver, author Dov Baron said, “The Millennial generation cares much more about the values and purpose of a company they work for than about the money they make.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that this generation doesn’t care about money or advancing in their careers but it does bode well for the future of work.

Perhaps these young people are seen as being lazy and demanding because they want more out of life than just a job. Not unlike earlier generations they are concerned about having a work/life balance that allows them to enjoy time with their friends and time to pursue the things that they enjoy doing. For this reason many are choosing flexible work hours over pay when considering a job offer. They also want to work for businesses that have a “social conscience”.

The Millennials I know are hardworking, assertive, and passionate about what they are doing. I can’t wait to see what great things they accomplish in the coming years.

What do you think?

The Dynamic Introvert!

 

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | April 12, 2015

The Narcissism Epidemic is Growing

The Narcissism Epidemic is Growing

Recently my friend Ulf recommended a book to me: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell.

Yes, apparently we are rapidly becoming a society of narcissists, especially in North America.

And what is a narcissist you may ask?

According to Twenge and Campbell, authors of The Narcissism Epidemic, there are “normal narcissists” and people who suffer from “narcissistic personality disorder” or NPD.

The authors go on to further differentiate between introverted narcissists and extroverted narcissists. However, the focus of their book is the extroverted narcissist. I’m not certain why they chose to ignore the other 50% of the population, perhaps because introverted narcissists do more damage to themselves while extroverted narcissists damage themselves and the people around them.

Narcissists are experts at self-promotion. This in itself is not a bad thing as self-promotion is a necessary tool in a world of increased competition. In other words if you want to get ahead in your career you will need to promote yourself at some point.

The difference between “normal” folk and narcissists is that many narcissists behave arrogantly and abuse power and are unable to see how their behavior may be destructive to themselves or others. Examples of this behavior in the workplace includes stealing other people’s ideas, putting people down, not listening to others, lacking in compassion and constantly seeking attention. In short, narcissists put their personal needs in front of the needs of their team or their organization.

Narcissism is also detrimental to leadership and research has proven that some of the most effective leaders are the opposite of narcissistic; they are humble, avoid the limelight and are continually trying to improve both themselves and the organizations they work in.

One study, made famous by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, found that the most successful CEOs were excellent team players—something that narcissists aren’t able to do.

Twenge and Campbell do a nice job of explaining how our society has become more narcissistic over the past decades. The internet seems to be at the top of the list of reasons why this is happening.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Twenge and Campbell,

“Future Americans will be extraverted and socially confident—even the shyest people will have appeared on the internet many, many times…”

What do you think? Can we do anything to slow down this narcissism epidemic or are we destined to become a bunch of loud, aggressive, self-centered bores? And what will this do to our workplaces?

 

The Dynamic Introvert

 

 

 

 

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 9, 2015

Personalities in the Workplace

 

Did you know that the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI is the most widely used personality test in the world?  According to the Myers Briggs organization millions of people around the world take the test every year.

The MBTI is loosely based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type and can be a useful tool to understand how we perceive the world and how we make decisions based on our preferences.

Most of us want to understand why our colleagues at work behave the way they do. The MBTI has been used to help people understand these differences. It can be beneficial if used correctly.

Writing in Personal Empowerment through Type, Patricia Cranton, author and adult educator, cautioned that if the test is not used properly it may end up reinforcing negative stereotypes about people. For instance, introverts are always quiet and passive and extroverts are always loud and boisterous.

Once they have completed the MBTI, some organizations encourage employees to write the results on their nametags. People walk around proudly proclaiming, “HI, I’m an INTJ” or “Hi, I’m an ENSP”. This might be ok as long as everyone agrees and there is an understanding of what these letters really mean.

Sometimes these exercises can backfire as demonstrated by the following example from a self-described introvert who wanted to share her experience with me:

“After doing a survey as to whether we were introverts or extroverts, we were divided into those two groups and told to come up with a list of what it was like dealing with the other group. We introverts went first, and talked about things like needing time away from the social or interactive scene which didn’t always mesh with what the extroverts wanted from us. Then the extroverts talked about what it was like to work with us introverts. They produced a litany of complaints about how annoying it was to always have to stop and coax us to participate, and how tired they were of having to pay attention to our feelings—why didn’t we just step up to the plate—and on and on…I felt attacked for being who I was, my very essence, and I could not believe that the facilitator didn’t step in to redress the imbalance. But no…the workshop just moved on…(I should have talked to the facilitator, but I didn’t—I was too emotional about it).”

This is one of the pitfalls of using the MBTI without allowing time to really explore the issues that might surface.

In my own experience, when the MBTI was administered as part of a team building session at work, very little time was spent on helping us to understand not only our own preferences but the preferences of the rest of the team. In the end it was interesting exercise but not very useful.

The bottom line is that people are complex and are capable of changing and they don’t fit neatly into categories.

 The Dynamic Introvert

 

 

 

 

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | February 6, 2015

The Perils of Multitasking

The Perils of Multitasking


We are constantly being reminded of the perils of multitasking but I don’t think many of us are listening.

“We seem to be becoming more anxious and more depressed, and brain overload has a lot to do with that.” Susan Blackmore, PhD

Multitasking, which is part of living in a 24/7 world, has become the norm in many workplaces.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia:

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the term as “twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; constantly”. It lists its first reference to 24/7 as from US magazine Sports Illustrated in 1983. The man to use it was basketball player Jerry Reynolds and he was talking about his jump shot. This is when a player releases the ball in mid-air and Reynolds said his was “good 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year”.

The idea took hold and businesses realized the potential financial gains of being open around the clock.

As more people began working 24/7, the more they began asking for and using services that were available when they needed them. As a society, we have for the most part, accepted this accelerated rhythm of life.

At the same time the use of technology (computers, smart phones, etc.) for communication has made it possible to multitask while we work. I can write my blog posts while talking with someone on the phone. I know that some people have two computer screens open on their desk at the same time so that they can do more work.

Granted, we are all different and some of us may find it easier to multitask. As an introvert I have to be careful and I’ve learned about the perils of multitasking the hard way. Last year I attended an evaluation workshop organized by the Toastmasters clubs in my area.  In the afternoon we broke into groups of 8 – 10 people to share ideas about how to evaluate speakers. I was “nominated” by my group to collect their ideas and report back to the larger group of about 60 people.

The problem was that I couldn’t multitask—I couldn’t listen to the members of my group, synthesize what they were saying and come up with a cohesive summary. In the end I failed miserably. When I got up in front of the large group my mind was buzzing and I couldn’t “think straight”. In hindsight I realize that I should have written down as many of the suggestions as I could and then excused myself from the group and found a quiet place to digest what I’d heard and formulate a clear response.

I was certainly suffering from “brain overload” in that moment.

I try to keep my multitasking to a minimum because I have learned that it doesn’t work well for me. But what about those of you who work in environments were multitasking is seen as the norm or worse something to be proud of. What strategies do you have to help you avoid the perils of multitasking?

Cheers!

 

 

 

Posted by: healingtheworkplace | January 1, 2015

Healing the Workplace – How to Avoid Burning Out in 2015

Healing the Workplace – How to Avoid Burning Out in 2015

Years ago it used to be that burnout was only of concern to social workers and health care professionals. Now it seems that all of us are at risk for burnout. You can find the latest research on burnout in the article, Conquering Burnout, by Michael P. Leiter and Christina Maslach published in the January/February 2015 edition of Scientific American Mind.

Burnout is a syndrome that has three main components: exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that typically occur together.

There are lots of reasons why this syndrome should be of concern to both individuals and to the organizations that employ them. (Volunteers and informal caregivers are also prone to ill effects of burnout).

It seems to me that organizations are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve productivity and increase efficiency. Unfortunately workers who are suffering from burnout will be neither productive nor efficient.

Preventing burnout among workers may not be on top of the list but by educating themselves and taking the right steps employers can ensure that productivity and efficiency are not compromised.

According to Leiter and Maslach, the bottom line is that burnoutundoes a person’s ability to pursue a happy, healthy and productive professional life.”

Preventing burnout is something that organizations should pay attention to and there is a lot that can be done, here are a few suggestions:

  • Ensure that people have the tools and resources that they need to do their work (the right tools for the job and adequate resources)
  • Recognize and treat employees fairly and with respect (this applies to everyone in the organization not just supervisors and management)
  • Provide clear communication and keep employees “in the loop”, especially during times of change (which means always)

At an individual level we can prevent ourselves from becoming a victim of burnout by educating ourselves about what causes it and by being on the alert for possible signs that we might be at risk for it happening to us. Some of us are more at risk for burnout than others but by becoming aware of the causes of burnout we can take action to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Canadian leadership expert Lance Secretan has created a short job burnout survey that you can access on his website. If you are already experiencing the symptoms of burnout here are a few things that you should consider doing:

  • Talk to your employer (if you think that he or she will be open to finding solutions)
  • Visit your physician
  • Talk to a mental health professional (psychologist or social worker)
  • Tap into your employee health and wellness program (if you are one of the few workers lucky enough to have this type of resource)

Happy New Year!  The Dynamic Introvert Team!

 

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