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We all know of resilient leaders, those who have risen from the ashes like a phoenix and have managed not only to bounce back from adversity but to bounce forward. No one can avoid trouble and potential pit falls are all around us. Volatile times bring disruption and set backs for even the most successful among us. Some stumbles will be due to circumstances outside your control such as weather, geopolitical shocks or wider economic changes, but while you may not be able to control the situation at large you can control your reaction to it.
The American Psychological society describes resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It is one of the most essential capabilities for bouncing back from leadership setbacks in today’s business world. Resilience is not a trait that people have or do not have, it is a set of behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and adopted by anyone. Remaining resilient in the face of nagging doubt and harsh realities is hard, particularly in today’s business climate of rapid, fast paced, disruptive change. What such a climate requires is emotionally intelligent leaders who are able to absorb change while at the same time helping others to move forward and achieve success.
During a recession resilience comes to the fore as businesses face into restructuring, mergers, job insecurity, re-organisations and downsizing. The majority of businesses have been impacted in some way by the current recession, with very few emerging unscathed. They have had to find a way to become more flexible and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Resilience is the ability to recover from stumbles or outright mistakes, but flexibility is not enough. To be truly resilient you need to:
Resilience enables leaders to overcome disappointment and move themselves and their organisations forward in times of immense uncertainty and stress. Although they may occasionally falter, potential trouble lurks around every corner and what matters is not the source of the trouble but how we deal with it. Resilience is an exercise in choice and we all have the choice whether to be trapped and mired in the current bad situation, or to learn from it and rebound. Resilient leaders and companies take action and learn from their mistakes, they embrace challenges rather than being frightened or intimidated by them and ultimately they flourish.
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Research has shown that employees who work remotely often feel as though they are excluded from the company culture. These employees report feeling as though they are not treated equal to the colleagues and are often worried that their colleagues are working against them. As a result, if a problem occurs, almost half of remote employees let if fester for weeks.
In order to improve workplace integration in their company, Clevertech experimented with a number of difference ways to bring remote workers together such as book clubs, virtual coffees and executive-led webinars which focused on values. The results showed that some of the activities temporarily boosted the team, however they didn’t solve the culture problems that come with have a large remote workforce.
They came to the conclusion that they need to create a ‘beyond remote’ workforce by creating an environment of cohesion and trust through building meaningful relationships and conversations. The two strategies which were most successful in terms of increasing engagement were creating structured conversations around shared content and using online games to build trust.
Creating structured conversations around shared content – The aim here is to create deeper conversations among coworkers through virtual meetings which are structured like a book club but with a greater variety of content and platforms. Clevertech had employees watch the same TED talk, take the same online learning course or read the same book or article. Everyone then participated in a video conference where everyone was asked to share a reaction. It started with one person speaking and then choosing the next employee to speak. This selection process was also helpful in identifying where social bonds were strongly developed and where they may need to be further developed.
They also found that success in encouraging discussion and openness lay with starting the session with an icebreaker question such as ‘how did you take your coffee this morning?’. If two people use almond milk for example this can promote further bonding. Learning this type of information about coworkers can create trust.
Use online games to help build trust – Although this may be unconventional, playing a video game that has been chosen for it’s ability to force collaboration and put the team into situations which are destined for failure can help to build trust and show how the team handles negative pressures. Gloria Flores in her book Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods: The Meta-Skill for the Acquisition of Skills, speaks about how the negative emotions that are present when you are learning something new can block skill development. She stresses how important tools and prompts are in helping us push through, which is what the gaming framework does. It enables team members to work through negative emotions the come about during the learning process.
It is also important to choose a game which forces your team members out of their comfort zones. It is imperative that the equivalent amount of stress and possibility of failure that exists at work is created. Failures and how people react to them inspire better conversations as the team dynamics involved in game challenges are often a copy of the dynamics of work challenges. Clevertech found that from taking part in these games, employees learned that they needed to speak up as soon as they saw an issue so they could renegotiate and create new goals. This alone has a huge impact on work and interpersonal relationships.
Kuty Shalev of Clevertech states that although gaming and book clubs don’t sound like they belong in a work environment, they have given Clevertech the cohesion and retention that had been missing. Their retention rate has improved and as a result their turnover has decreased. They have also seen an increase in progress on ongoing projects, some of which had been put on the backburner for a long time, as well as greater employee engagement. By coming together for non-work activities has enhanced their ability to band together around common goals.
Kuty Shalev (2019) Ideas for helping remote colleagues bond. [online] https://hbr.org/2019/02/ideas-for-helping-remote-colleagues-bond
Workplace trends (2018) The work connectivity study [online] https://workplacetrends.com/the-work-connectivity-study/
Grenny, J. Daxfield, D. (2017) A Study of 1,100 Employees Found That Remote Workers Feel Shunned and Left Out [online] https://hbr.org/2017/11/a-study-of-1100-employees-found-that-remote-workers-feel-shunned-and-left-out
Flores, G. (2016) Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods: The Meta-Skill for the Acquisition of Skills. Pluralistic Networks Publishing
This report provides insights into the expected impact on the number of leadership level staff employed and their salaries within Ireland in the first half of 2019.
It has become increasingly obvious that effective leadership is hugely important in the workplace. If the leadership is not effective, problems such as poor productivity, low motivation and high turnover can occur. In the current market, there are many new opportunities available for employees and so if employees are not happy it is very likely that they will go elsewhere. Leaders often don’t think about the type of leader they are. Generally they fall into either the task-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership style.
Task Oriented Leadership
This type of leader focuses on the tasks that needed to be carried out in order to reach goals. The leadership style here can be described as autocratic. Autocratic leaders don’t involve their team in decision making. Task-orientated leadership involves some task management features. This involves placing emphasis on administrative activities, co-ordinating job-related activities, preparing financial reports etc. As we can see leaders who opt for this style focus on completing tasks in order to reach targets. This type of leader doesn’t really care about relationship building or the employees who are needed to reach these goals. They are more concerned with following their plan to reach organisational targets.
One of, if not the biggest strength of this type of leadership is that all tasks are completely to a high standard in a timely manner. These leaders set an example for employees by focusing on the necessary procedures in relation to how tasks as completed. As a result, they can delegate work and make sure that tasks are completed on time to a high standard. This style of leadership would be suitable in well-structured environments like for example manufacturing assembly lines where repeating well-defined processes produces high levels of both productivity and quality.
Some of the weaknesses associated with this leaderships style involve a fear of breaking the rules among employees, this may lead to a lack of creativity, low morale and as a result high turnover. A lack of innovation which can come from a fear of taking risks, means employees who are naturally creative can become demoralised and eventually leave the organisation to find a more appealing opportunity.
This type of leadership focuses on creating success as a result of building lasting relationships with employees and the motivation, job satisfaction and work-life balance of their employees. They still care about getting tasks done, however they believe that work culture is more important. Leaders who use this style concentrate on motivating, supporting and developing their employees. Relationship oriented leaders also promote collaboration and teamwork, by encouraging communication and building positive relationships. The welfare of employees is the top priority for these leaders and as a result, they put time and effort into meeting their employees individual needs.
One of the strengths of this leadership style is that these leaders establish teams that all employees want to be a part of. Members of these teams are often more productive and willing to take risks because they understand that they will get support from the leader if necessary. Another strength is that employees are in an environment where they know their leader cares about there welfare. These leaders know that work place productivity requires creating a positive environment where employees feel motivated. As a result, these leaders prioritise people in order to ensure that issues such as personal conflicts, dissatisfaction and turnover are low.
One of the weaknesses of this leadership style is that focusing on creating team spirit may get in the way of completing tasks and reaching goals. Some leaders can put the development of their team above tasks.
Over the years, studies have been conducted in order to determine if one type is better than the other, however no one behaviour is instrumental to the success of a leader in every situation. The dynamic nature of leadership determines that if a leader is effective, they should be able to balance both types of leadership styles which should be applied in response to a particular situation. This involves some level of self-awareness, you need to work out which style you fall under and take note of when you may need to change up your style to suit a particular situation. If for example you are task oriented you need to soften up, this can be difficult, but it is very important. Start by trying to brush up on your ‘soft’ skills such as listening. For relationship-oriented leaders, they need to do the opposite and toughen up. This could be by being more decisive and setting standards.
Penn State (2013) Balancing Task and Relationship Behaviors [online] https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2013/05/20/balancing-task-and-relationship-behaviors/
Bell, S. (2017) Task-Oriented vs. People-Oriented Leadership Styles [online] https://bizfluent.com/info-12137619-taskoriented-vs-peopleoriented-leadership-styles.html
Larman, A. (2015) Task-Oriented Vs People-Oriented Leadership Styles [online] http://ezinearticles.com/?Task-Oriented-Vs-People-Oriented-Leadership-Styles&id=9253531
Ruzgar, N. (2018) The Effect of Leaders’ Adoption of Task-Oriented or Relationship-Oriented Leadership Style on Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), In the Organizations That Are Active In Service Sector: A Research on Tourism Agencies. Journal of Business Administration Research. Vol 7:1 pp50-60
Even if you love everything about your job, burnout can still affect you. A person often experiences burnout when they feel as though they are investing more in their work than they are getting out of it. This can happen if a persons job is not rewarding, however it is more likely that it occurs because they are not taking care of themselves.
Before you can treat burnout and prevent it from happening in the future, you need to be self-aware enough to recognise the warning signs so that you know when you need to act. Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for.
Difficulty in both personal and work relationships – When you are stressed it affects everything you do, especially the way in which you interact with others. You may feel as though you are keeping your stress under control at work, however you may find it then manifests itself at home instead and as a result your relationships can suffer. In general stress makes a lot of people more likely to lose their cool, snap at others and get involved in unnecessary conflicts. On the other hand, some people tend to avoid those they care about and become more withdrawn.
Cognitive Difficulties – Research has shown that the prefrontal cortex is hammered by stress, this is the part of the brain which is responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, emotional control, ability to make decisions and focus. When you realise you are forgetting important things, making silly mistakes and poor decisions or having outbursts of emotion, it is likely that you are on the path to a burnout.
Health issues – Burnout has a severely negative impact on both you mental and physical health. If you’re experiencing depression, back pain, frequently sick etc. you need to take a step back and ask yourself what role your job is playing in this. When you realise that burnout is actually affecting your health, you need to decide whether the approach you currently take to work is worth the consequences.
Bringing your work home – If you are lying awake at night worrying about all the work you never got around to completing and praying that you didn’t miss anything important, this is a sign. When you can’t get work out of your head when you get home, it’s a very sure sign that you are burning out.
Fatigue – A lot of the time, burnout leads to exhaustion as a result of the toll the stress is taking on both your body and mind. The indications that you are experiencing burnout fatigue are drinking significant amounts of caffeine to help you to get through the day or waking up with no energy even after you have had a good night’s sleep.
Decreased satisfaction – The vast majority of the time, burnout leads to a sense of dissatisfaction. The people and projects that once made you excited don’t anymore. This fall in satisfaction makes it difficult at work as no matter what you put into it, you don’t feel as though you are getting much out.
Loss of motivation – When we first start our jobs, we tend to see things through rose coloured glasses. Motivation comes naturally to you in this phase. However, if you are experiencing burnout, it is hard for you to find the motivation to complete the job. You may still complete your tasks and do it well, but the motivation you had at the start which used to drive you is no longer there. You do the work now, for fear of missing deadlines or getting fired, not for the sake of the work itself.
Performance issues – A lot of people who burn out tend to be high achievers and so if their performance starts to fall, other people don’t always see it. It is important to monitor any slips, compare how you were performing last month to a year ago, with your current performance. If you notice a dip in your performance, you need to work out if burnout is responsible.
Poor self-care – We constantly struggle against things that feel good in the moment but aren’t actually good for you. When burnout occurs
How to fight burnout!
Disconnect: This is the most important strategy on the list as if you can’t electronically remove yourself from work you haven’t really left! If you make yourself available for work 24 hours a day you are opening yourself up to a constant stream of stressors which will prevent you from recharging. If you can’t take the whole evening or weekend off, try setting specific times to check in on your emails and return voicemails. For example, during the week you can only check your email for 30 minutes after dinner or on the weekends maybe an hour after breakfast would be a good time for you. By scheduling small time blocks, you can alleviate stress without having to sacrifice you availability.
Watch out for your body signals: It is easy to put that stomach ache down to something you ate or that headache down to dehydration or looking at your computer for too long, however quite often this is not the case. A lot of the time, these aches and pains can be the result of an accumulation of anxiety and stress. Burnout manifests in the body so it is important that we learn to pay attention to the signs our body gives us so that you can stop burnout before it starts. This involves a certain level of self-awareness.
Schedule time for relaxation: It is equally as important to plan out time for relaxation as it is for planning time for work. Scheduling in things like ‘take a 30-minute walk’ or ‘read for 30 minutes’ can make a huge difference. Actually scheduling in these activities is a good way of making sure that they actually happen and also gives you something to look forward to.
Avoid sleeping pills: Anything that sedates you, so you can sleep should be avoided as these substances seriously disrupt the brain’s natural sleep process. When you sleep your brain removes any harmful toxins, it goes through a number of stages working through the memories of the day and either storing or discarding them. Sedation however, alters the brain’s natural process by interfering with these cycles. Anything that messes with the natural sleep process of the brain has serious effects on the quality of your sleep and to avoid burnout you need good quality sleep.
Get yourself organised: A lot of the stress we feel on a day to day basis actually comes about as a result of being too disorganised to effectively deal with the work. When you take a bit of time to get yourself organised you will feel lees stressed as the load of work will feel more manageable.
Take regular breaks: Physiologically we work best in windows of between an hour to an hour and a half with a following 15-minute break. If you wait to take a break until you are tired you have missed the peak productivity window. If you keep to a schedule you can make sure that you work when you are the most productive.
If you have tried these strategies and still feel no difference then you may need to take a look at your job and decide if that is the problem. The wrong job alone can cause burnout, if this is the case you will have to decide if your job is worth your health. For more articles on self-awareness check out our website at www.rfc.ie
Valcour, M. (2016) Beating Burnout [online] https://hbr.org/2016/11/beating-burnout
Bradberry, T. (2016) 7 Powerful Ways To Beat Burnout [Online] https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/11/08/7-powerful-ways-to-beat-burnout/?utm_source=LINKEDIN&utm_medium=social&utm_term=Malorie%2F#19e2403a61e6
Our most read articles of 2018 are as follows!
What separates great leaders from average ones? According to Daniel Goleman they answer does not lie in technical skills or IQ, it is in fact emotional intelligence (EQ). These are a group of skills which allow leaders to maximise both their own performance, and that of their team. These skills are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. This does not mean that technical skills and IQ are irrelevant, they are important however… Read More
Mood affects the culture of an organisation. A positive work culture is what differentiates high- performance organisations from less successful ones. The formula is quite exact. The emotional style of leader’s accounts for between 50 to 70% of an organisations work culture (how people feel about working for a company) which in turn accounts for 20 to 30% of the organisations … Read More
In 1983 Howard Gardener who was an American developmental psychologist, published a book called Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In this book he argues that there is not one perfect way of measuring intelligence and that our brains are wired with a whole range of cognitive abilities. Gardener points out that a person can, for example, be… Read More
Team-building is one of the most important responsibilities a manager can have, yet its importance is often overlooked. Building a successful team can be challenging as no two members are the same and as a result conflict can often arise. However, if a manager has… Read More
Why? Well, nobody likes being in a bad mood. But bad mood is more than just an unpleasant feeling. Mood matters – a lot. If you learn to manage your mood better, it can make a dramatic difference to your life. What causes a mood
? Time of the day…Read More
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lays our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Whatever your situation “finding the gap” or creating ‘space’ is an incredibly powerful way of …Read More
Were you one of the smartest kids in your class? You have done well in your career, however you are constantly seeing people you outperformed in school achieving more than you, or your colleagues are leapfrogging you. You are now asking yourself ‘what am I doing wrong?’ Does this sound…Read More
Today, digital transformation has become hugely important for businesses of all sizes. Every study, article and panel discussion involving how businesses can remain competitive in this digital era promote this message. The importance of digital transformation is spoken about often, however there seems to be a lot of confusion among business leaders surrounding… Read More
What happens if you are offered your dream job, but it is thousands of miles away? How do you know if it is worth locating for a particular job? Who should be involved in helping you make this decision? How do you weigh up the pros such as opportunity and increased salary against the cons such as the loss of your network and the impact on your… Read More
Emotional intelligence has become a hot topic in recent years with good reason! There is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that emotional intelligence has a significant impact on work performance. Employees who have a higher level of emotional intelligence tend to perform better, have… Read More
It’s hard to miss the festive spirit which is everywhere during the holiday season. Some people can’t get enough! For other’s however, it is actually the most stressful and lonely time of the year. A survey carried out by Healthline in 2015 found that 44% of people are stressed during the holidays whilst a further 18% of respondents stating they are ‘very stressed’. Just under half of respondents blamed their finances as the main source of stress. Other reasons included being over-scheduled, picking the right gifts and staying healthy.
Dr Ellen Braaten states that “the holidays are filled with both joy and stress”. Dr Braaten blames multitasking throughout the holidays as the reason our prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive Over time this can cause a decrease in memory, stop the production of new brain cells and can eventually cause existing brain cells to die. The upside is that holiday stress is temporary, and we are more capable of dealing with this kind of stress. Braaten says “Once the holidays are over,” “we have ways of relaxing. The stress of the season goes away.”
It is already difficult enough dealing with personal stress, however when you add in workplace stress it’s no wonder some people don’t get into the festive spirit! A study carried out by the American Psychological Association found that only 8% of people feel happier during the holidays whilst 38% stated that their stress increases. Employees are often trying to meet deadlines or dealing with stressed customers which are just a couple of reasons why their anxiety is increasing. This can actually be quite costly for employers.
Research carried out by Peakon of over 15,000 employees across the UK, US, Germany and the Nordic countries found that 10% of respondents experience reduced productivity for the whole month of December and between 30 and 40% reporting a drop in productivity by mid-December. In his article Festive Celebrations: Human Resource Impacts and Costs of Christmas, Dr. Chris Rowley states that by December 18th nearly half of the workforce hits ‘festive fizzleout’, where the spend more of their time worrying about the holidays than about work. Rowley states that over two thirds of employees were less productive throughout December with almost half of employees admitting that they did between 10-20% less work. When asked why, employees cited reasons such as lack of motivation, exhaustion and even hangovers! It seems as though women are affected the most with almost twice as many women than men stating they were stressed about Christmas.
It seems that some of the tools employers use to improve company culture are backfiring. Take for example the annual Christmas party. A survey carried out by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. found that 80% of companies planned to throw a Christmas party. However, research from MetLife Employee Benefits has found that 37% of employees don’t attend the Christmas party, the most common reason being that they are held in the evening which clashes with family commitments. In relation to the employees who do attend, there is a 77% drop in productivity the following day, with over half of employees wasting the first 4 hours because they are still recovering and a further 20% calling in sick. In the UK in 2016, lost productivity and employee stress during the holidays cost companies approximately £11bn.
How can managers help to keep spirits as well as productivity up during the festive season? Here are a number of ways this can be achieved.
Reach out – Why not ask your employees how they would like to celebrate the holidays at work. You could set up an anonymous survey online and ask your employees to fill it out. This is very easy to do through online tools such as survey money.
Be inclusive – Leaders must be conscious of the different ways people celebrate the holidays. SVP and Chief Culture Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Walmart Inc, Ben-Saba Hasan, stated that “As leaders, we need to create an environment where our team members feel comfortable and safe, so that we foster greater awareness among those in the dominant culture for those whose holiday observances look different from their own.”
Personal time – You could offer your team an extra day off in the run up to the holidays so that they can attend to personal needs such as family demands or gift shopping. One extra day off to deal with personal needs could make a huge difference in relation to employee stress levels. A gesture such as this is very small from the employers perspective but would be greatly appreciated by employees and can increase the gratitude and loyalty of your employees.
Rebalance workloads – At the top of an employees stress list sit competing demands. Pressures from both work and home merge during the holiday season and time seems scarce. As a leader, try to review the workload of your team and see if it would be possible to extend some project deadlines into the new year. Chief People Officer at Kronos, David Almeda suggest that “tactics such as rebalancing workload among team members, or allowing atypical works hours for a set period of time, will deliver results, increase employee commitment, and materially decrease employee stress.”
Give time not gifts – Research carried out by neuroscientists Dr. Jorge Moll and Dr. Jordan Grafman indicates that we are instinctually made to give. During their research, when participants who donated to what they felt was a worthy organisation, their brain scans showed that parts of the midbrain lit up. This is the same part of the brain that controls food cravings and that becomes active when money is added to a person’s personal reward accounts. Ben-Saba Hasan took this thinking and applied it to his team who all volunteered in their community during the holidays. He says “I believe one of the best ways to manage stress and care for yourself is when you turn your focus toward caring for others first.”
It is important for employees to remember that most holiday related stress is self-imposed and as a result preventable. You could perhaps avoid financial stress by purchasing less, multitasking can be avoided by reprioritization and exclusion can be prevented by reaching out to co-workers.
Moss, J. (2018) Holidays Can Be Stressful. They Don’t Have to Stress Out Your Team. [Online] https://hbr.org/2018/12/holidays-can-be-stressful-they-dont-have-to-stress-out-your-team
Braaten, E. (2018) Holiday Stress and the Brain. [Online] http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/holiday-stress-and-brain
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (2006) Holiday Stress [Online] https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf
Young, J. (2018) The Great Christmas “Click-Off” – It’s Here to Stay, but at What Cost? [Online] https://peakon.com/blog/peakon/christmas-productivity-2018/
Rowley, C. (2016) Festive Celebrations: Human Resource Impacts and Costs of Christmas [Online] http://www.kellogg.ox.ac.uk/blog/festive-celebrations-human-resource-impacts-and-costs-of-christmas/
Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. (2018) 2017 Holiday Party Survey Report: Companies Plan Less Showy Shindigs [Online] https://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/2017-holiday-party-survey-report-companies-plan-less-showy-shindigs
Isokariari, M. (2015) Nearly half of employees decline Christmas party due to workplace stress [Online] https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/news/nearly-half-employees-decline-christmas-party-due-workplace-stress