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Category Archives: Self-awareness

Five reasons why you should take a break from work

Over here in the UK we recently had what we call a ‘long weekend’ – well really it was a bit more than that. Thanks to the Queen’s diamond jubilee there were two days of public holiday on top of the weekend that, for many people, meant a four-day weekend.

It got me thinking about the benefits of an extended break from work and how that rest and recuperation time can be harnessed positively upon returning to work. There are benefits for you, your colleagues, your boss and of course the work you produce and you may not even realise your work and even your working relationships are suffering until you return.

Here are five reasons why you should consider taking a break from work:

1. Let’s start with the obvious one – productivity. Taking a few days away from your workplace can be rejuvenating and give you the energy you need to step up your game. If you are in a better place mentally then it will show not just in the quantity of work you are able to produce but the quality as well. Isn’t 50 weeks of top level production better than 52 weeks of sub standard efficiency?

2. It shows you care about your job. Understand that taking a break is not giving up or running away or any other form of escapism. Mental fatigue can take its toll on you with the effects being felt on everyone around you. Although it’s counterintuitive to think stepping away from a heavy workload is a good idea, in the long run, it can be the best thing for you.

3. Passion. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, although you possibly haven’t applied it to a work setting yet. Having time away from your desk can eradicate feelings of jadedness and reignite your passion for your career. You will return hungrier and possibly even with some wonderful new ideas.

4. In this digital era of Smartphones, netbooks, tablets and laptops it has never been more difficult to disconnect from work. Consequently, poor physical wellbeing and burnout are a bigger threat than ever. All the minutes spent, for example, checking and responding to emails on your daily commute can soon add up – and this is even before your working day has actually supposed to start. In isolation you may think nothing of it, but long-term it certainly takes its toll.

5. You get the opportunity to behave differently. You are your behaviour and if the person you behave like is a brain-fried, stressed out workaholic for 40 or 50 hours a week then having a break will let you be somebody else for a week or so. Something as simple as not having a strict schedule to adhere to day in and day out can be hugely refreshing.

I want to leave you with the results of a psychological study that showed how just the simple act of even planning a vacation alleviated stress and increased happiness for up to eight weeks. Certainly food for thought.

For more insights on what Catalyst offers in terms of people skills and learning & development, visit out website for free downloadable material at http://www.cbduk.biz/Downloads.asp

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Perfectionist at work – good or bad thing?

Traditionally, perfectionism is given positive connotations, and rightly so – there are many good qualities associated with the perfectionist. However, in a workplace environment, it may not be the most coveted attribute among co-workers for a few reasons. So, is being a perfectionist a good or a bad thing?

The truth is, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Perfectionism means you have extremely high standards, you work hard and you usually have a vision of what you want and you know when you have reached it.

But the thing is, the standards the perfectionist strives for are their standards, personal to them and therefore they might not share the same vision flawlessness as their colleagues. This is where friction can arise between colleagues and discontent within the individual.

Not only that, not settling until the task is done to standard can cause work to be completed after deadlines, the knock-on effects of which can be far reaching. Essentially, the perfectionist loses sight of what’s really important – getting the task done on time and in full. 

If you find yourself falling into the perfectionist trap, even if only occasionally, then consider the following:

  • Understand that good enough is enough. If you find yourself going over the same piece of work time and again looking for ways to tweak it on the off chance you can make it even better – stop. Sure, review your work but when you think it’s 80 to 90 percent good enough, move on.
  • Accept that making mistakes are normal. They are a standard part of the learning process and that as long as you do just that – learn from them – then there’s no problem. The reality is that reaching 100 per cent perfection is probably impossible so don’t fret about the possible consequences of making an error and don’t concern yourself with the notion that you will be judged if your work isn’t absolute perfection.
  • Consider your priorities. What impact will improving a particular piece of work have? I mean, what will it actually do? What is its value? If you can’t answer these questions with valid reasons then you need to move on to the next task because it may not be worth your while continuing. Don’t let low priority, more trivial things, consume your valuable time, effort and skills when you could be applying all three to something that genuinely requires it.

Perfectionism can stem from anxiety possibly caused by stress at work or perhaps a poor work/life balance. For more information on these topics and to see how we can help you and/or your team improve performance, visit our website by clicking here or to find out about our free Leadership & Management seminars, click here.

 

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How do YOU create a happy workplace?

We’ve all been in jobs where the atmosphere is, shall we say, less than harmonious. People grumbling, gossip flying, unmotivated individuals and conflict galore. Nobody wants to spend eight hours of their day in a place like that.

While it’s not so straightforward to create and maintain a happy working environment but there are certain things that can be done to help cultivate one. The result is a more productive workplace with motivated personnel and a happy workforce.

There are so many factors at play so here are just five things that can help. We encourage you to let us know what works for you in the comments section below.

1. Be Positive

Show that you are positive, approachable and willing and able to lend a hand if asked. Even things like smiling and pleasantries convey a positive demeanour and people will remember you for a simple, ‘hi, how are you?’ Also, be respectful; do not engage in tittle-tattle or gossip, and ask questions before making assumptions – particularly when talking about other people.

2. Be Sociable

Ask you’re colleagues how their weekend was, chat about whatever sporting event took place the previous night. Does your company have a football team? Join it! 

Be the one to buy someone a birthday cake or get the morning coffee and don’t be afraid to suggest a quick drink after work. Getting to know the people behind the job titles you see day in and day out can really stand you in good stead should problems arise.

3. Personal Space

Don’t invade personal space whether you are talking to someone at their desk or sitting next to them spilling paperwork everywhere. If you share a desk or workspace, come to a mutual agreement as to where the boundaries are and stick to it. This shows a mutual respect and means if there is a pre-arranged agreement both parties know where they stand.

4. Be Honest

Be ethical and do the right thing. Don’t promise things unless you know you will be able to deliver them. Whether that is a reward for a completed task or saying you will have something delivered by a certain time.  If you say yes just to appease somebody then this will only lead to trouble further down the line so be honest about what you can and cannot do and don’t feel pressured into taking on too much responsibility. 

5. Don’t Assign Blame

Or at least, don’t vocalise this even if you do think someone else is at fault. This normally leads to snippy remarks, arguments and a general unproductive and unpleasant atmosphere. If you are the one to appear only too happy to listen to the other person’s point of view and willing to show empathy then the person with whom you have a problem will likely be much more receptive to negotiation. 

 

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Managing your state

We can’t exactly measure our states but we know when our state is changing. However, it’s not true to say we have no control over our states – not only that, it’s a limiting and unhelpful belief.

Everybody manages his or her state to some extent. For example, ‘I will take a long bath; that will make me feel better’ or ‘I will go out for a run’ are both strategies to change our state.

As we pass from state to state, we think of them as good or bad and we know the states we enjoy and the ones we don’t, so we have a basis for deciding whether to maintain a state or change it to something quite different.

External Event

We usually think that a state happens as the result of an external event, however, a state is not always directly linked to the external event, and it only occurs after some other processing takes place. This processing is unique to each of us, so the state that results from an event will be different for each of us.

Events themselves are neutral, it’s only after we have processed them through our filters that we label them as good or bad. If the majority considers an event bad, this does not make it so. It simply means the majority have filtered the event in a similar way and come to the same conclusion.

The good news is that just because we think an event is ‘bad’, this does not mean it cannot change for us if we change our filters.

Internal Movie

Another way that states arise is when we imagine something or replay a memory. This can be completely unrelated to what is going on around us, yet it can still generate a powerful state. If we really get into the process, an internal movie can generate just as powerful a state as an external event.

Behaviour

By behaviour, we mean any activity. This could be something subtle, such as the way you stand or breathe, or something much more obvious, such as a brisk walk or talking. 

Our state is affected by activity, even a subtle activity. How do you stand when you put on that really expensive and sharp-looking suit? You are power dressed and you know it. If you stand that way right now, even without the suit, how do you feel?

Changing state

We can change our state in the moment by changing any of the above things that affect state and we can make more permanent changes to the way we generate states by changing our filters.

What state do you want?

Your state influences everything you do. If you are clear about the optimal state for doing something and then access that state, you will be making it much easier to achieve your outcome.

Whatever your planned activity, you might start by considering the following:

  • What state you want to be in?
  • What state do you want other people to be in?

You then need to plan how you, and others, can achieve those states. It may well be that you can’t do it all in one jump, so what intermediate states would you or others need to go through?

Baseline State

Many states are fleeting or transitional, but each of us usually drops back into a state in which we feel ‘at home’ – your baseline state. This may be balanced and harmonious or it may be out of balance and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it has become habitual, even if it is one of continuing anxiety or depression or dullness. The quality of your baseline state contributes hugely to the quality of your life, since you spend so much time in it.

Eliciting states in others

We are always eliciting states in others whenever we interact with them. Another person will always pass what they experience of us through their filters, coming up with a meaning which will affect their state.

The simplest way to elicit a particular state in another person is to ask them to remember a time when they were in that state as vividly as they can. This works best when you are in rapport with the other person, and you are already doing your ‘version’ of the state you want them to access. If you want them to access confidence, be in a confident state yourself, with all the voice and posture signals that exude confidence.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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We could be heroes: Self Coaching and how to go about it

Self coaching is not just a matter of thinking over the events of the day, week or month, though this is part of it; there are tools that will help to identify and capture the learnings.

Next time you are in a tight spot, and wishing for a hero or heroine to come and save the day, conjure up that person in your mind. Make believe that they are actually present and imagine what they would say to do next.

They won’t say “give up and go home”. They would NEVER say that! So what would they say instead? As you listen, realise that it is a part of you speaking, perhaps a more heroic part.

What happens if you follow the advice?

What happens if you don’t?

And of course, you might choose to have more than one heroic figure come to your rescue – because you can. They all have different skills and strengths that you can use. 

Tools for self coaching

Write it down

Writing down your thoughts has a number of benefits:

  • You can look back on what you have learned and see how much you have developed
  • The information will help you to prepare for appraisals and interviews
  • You can collect evidence for your CPD
  • If things are confused in your head, getting your thoughts down on paper can often help you to clear your mind and see things more clearly.

Use a journal, folder or document on your computer – somewhere private and confidential.

Learning and planning logs

These can provide a useful structure for your coaching process. They also assist you in completing the learning cycle and therefore help you to maximise your learning from any particular situation.

Other people

Although, ultimately, the person organising and maintaining the process is you, other people will play an important part in your self coaching.

Coaching yourself can feed into your appraisal and performance management process, partly because it will place you in a better position to know, beforehand, if and how you have improved. In other words, the process itself will increase your capacity for self knowledge.

How will I know if I am improving?

Many people are concerned about how, when they are coaching themselves, they will know if they are improving. However, self coaching rarely happens in isolation. It includes asking others for feedback and support to assist in the process.

Coaching yourself does not have to be a solitary activity, and those people who are more extrovert are likely to involve other people, in addition to spending some time on their own, reflecting on their learning. Those who are less extrovert should be aware that asking for feedback from appropriate people and learning from it is part of the self coaching process.

When asking for feedback and support, it’s important to make sure that it is constructive and meets your needs. Below are some of the ways you can involve others.

Peer coaching

This can be an incredibly rewarding process for both parties. It might be with a colleague directly within your team, within another department, another organisation or even with a friend. Your peer coach can be a useful sounding board for the thoughts arising from your self coaching.

Coaching from your manager

This can be either through asking for coaching on a specific development need or from the general coaching that you receive from your manager. The coaching support that you get from your manager can assist you in coaching yourself. In fact, it will hopefully prove an ongoing cycle, in which you, through coaching yourself, identify your development needs, are proactive in asking for coaching and, in this way, get further insights as well as constructive help.

In Part 2, we will look at Action Learning Sets, the 360° feedback process and mentors. In the meantime, visit our website for more information on what Catalyst offer in terms of coaching courses or give us a call on 0207 436 3636.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy

 

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Self-awareness: knowing yourself to better understand others

In order to be a good manager, it’s important to be truly aware and in tune with your environment. To do this, you first need to be self-aware. Actually, this is true in any walk of life, but is particularly applicable in positions of leadership and management.

So, why is self-awareness so important? What can we do to improve self-awareness?

1. Here are five points to consider:Know what you are good at and where your weaknesses lie. Find the right balance between self-belief and knowing when you need help. Often those in a position of leadership feel they must appear as some sort of unflappable deity when, really, this façade can have a detrimental effect on you and your team – who can see you for what you are anyway.

2. Only by acknowledging weakness can you then begin the process of improvement. This may seem obvious but asking for help is one of the best things you can do – people are a great resource. It indicates a willingness to learn, improve and shows that members of the team are valued. 

3. Ask people for others’ opinion. Conduct feedback meetings during and at the end of projects; ask people what they thought went well, what could have been done better. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback on your own performance to get a good idea how things have gone.

4. Try to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ). Psychologists define EQ as having five main elements and those who excel in these area will generally have a high EQ:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation – an ability to control emotions and impulses
  • Motivation
  • Empathy – the ability to understand others’ viewpoints
  • Social skills

5. The decision-making process of self-aware managers is much better. They think things through more thoroughly, are able to consider different angles and the consequences of their actions – not only for the task at hand but for the people involved.

At Catalyst we train staff, managers, and leaders on how to increase self-awareness to the benefit of you, your team and the business by creating a harmonious environment in which people enjoy their role and are set clear, achievable goals.

For more information on our workshops and seminars, please visit:

http://www.cbduk.biz/Book_Leadership_workshop.asp

 

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