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Tag Archives: stress

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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The role of the manager in employee engagement

Employee engagement is not only affected by how the organisation as a whole treats and values its staff, but by all the interactions an employee has in the work place. Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement; they play a key role in sustaining it and undoubtedly can also turn it off.

Think about two roles that you have had: one where you loved going to work and performed at your best and one where you didn’t want to go to work, underperformed and frequently looked for another job.

What was it in each case that supported the way you felt about that role? Was it a great manager or a poor manager? Was it the role itself that you felt passionate about and were interested in? What did the organisation do to support staff? Was there anything else in the role that was affecting your performance?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clear view of some of the key requirements for employee engagement.

Below are some more practical tips for ways to support employee engagement and maximise your team’s performance. So that you can decide where to concentrate your energies, take time to consider in which particular areas there is room for improvement within your department or team. There is plenty of more detailed information in several topics.

The following tips are by no means exhaustive. These are just some ideas about what managers can do to engage with their staff as a team. This can be expanded to all your interactions with other staff in the organisation and your customers too.

Communicate

Talk to your team about what’s happening in the business, about work in the team and, importantly, them as individuals. Get to know your team members and what is important to them; don’t just play lip service to this – they will know if you are faking an interest, so be genuine!

Remember they are all unique, just as you are, so they might not like the same things, feel the same way or want the same things! Failures in communication can often arise because it’s too easy to assume that everyone else thinks as we do.

Hear them – listen to what they say, seek their thoughts and don’t just dismiss their views, opinions and ideas. 

Make time for your team – ensure you are available to members of your team when they need you and help them to find their way around the organisation.

Have fun!

This might sound odd, but having fun at work breeds excitement and energy and these are some of the key signals of engaged employees. Imagine an excited employee talking to a customer versus a disheartened employee talking to one – which customer do you think would come back again?

Development

An important part of your responsibility as a manager is to take an interest in developing the individuals in your team, making sure they feel valued, they have the opportunity to hone their existing skills, acquire new ones and generally feel a sense of purpose.

  • Actively support them in their development, seek opportunities and ways to help them grow and reach their goals. If you don’t know what their goals are, find out!
  • Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of projects
  • Trust them to do the job and to come to you if they need to
  • Ensure they have everything they need to do the job and do it to the best of their ability
  • Be flexible, open to new ideas and ways of working

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

 

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It’s not nice when people ‘snap’ is it? Here are some anger diffusion techniques

We have all at some time or another lost our temper and been around people who have lost theirs. You may even have found yourself in a confrontation where you need to diffuse the situation but be unsure of how to do it. There are certain disengagement techniques people use for just these types of situation.

In the workplace, it’s arguably even more important that we know how to deal with our emotions and, of course, that can include anger. So here are a few tips on…

Diffusing Anger

To diffuse anger in a situation, one of the things to consider using are Distraction Techniques. But it’s important to recognise the following distraction techniques won’t work in every situation.

  • Give the other person a direct command. Be assertive but be sure of your ground
  • Be funny. But ensure the humour is directed at yourself and steer clear of sarcasm
  • Pay the other person a compliment

Something else to consider when trying diffusing anger are Calming Techniques.

Make sure you communicate clearly by: 

  • Speaking softly
  • Slowing down the conversation
  • Sitting down with the other person
  • Allow the other person to vent their frustration
  • Show them you are listening by doing things like maintaining eye contact

Finally, see what solutions are possible which satisfy both parties. You can do this by:

  • Trying to understand the situation from the other person’s perspective
  • Listen to their ideas
  • Put forward you own thoughts in an open way

It’s also important to remember that if you feel you are in danger in any way whatsoever, that you should remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

If there are any techniques that you have found particularly useful for these types of situation, we’d love you to share them in the comments section below.

Visit our website at http://www.cbduk.biz/Catalyst_Business_Academy.asp to see how we can help train your staff in soft skills just like these.

 

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The importance of minimising stress at work

What is stressful to one person may not be to another. Individuals respond differently to different stressors. You may have heard someone use the phrase “I thrive under pressure” and found it incomprehensible. On the other hand, you might believe a job without pressure is not worth having. It’s the classic fight or flight response and what invigorates one person may exhaust another.

I deliberately use the word ‘stressors’ as opposed to ‘stress’ because there is strong evidence to suggest stress does not come from the individual – it exists only in their environment. Depending on how the individual reacts to that stressor, or strain, determines whether or not they become stressed.

What I mean is that it’s entirely down to the person whether or not workplace strain is converted into workplace stress.

Figures from the Labour Force Survey, conducted by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), showed that in 2010/2011 over a third of all work-related illnesses were stress-related. They also estimate over 10 million working days were lost during that 12 month period due to cases of stress costing UK businesses £28bn per year.

The HSE have also identified six key areas which contribute to stress in the workplace:

  • Demands placed on the employee are too high
  • Employees do not have enough control over how they work
  • There is inadequate support from colleagues and managers
  • Workplace relationships are of an unacceptable standard
  • Employees are unclear on the role and responsibilities within the business
  • There is a lack of consultation when it comes to organisational change

As previously pointed out, not all of these may apply to everybody but they are the most commonly cited reasons for workplace stress. Importantly, it’s perfectly possible to minimise the impact of these and even eradicate them completely by using simple steps and procedures.

By addressing these issues, managers can ensure their team is as efficient as possible with the main benefits being increased morale and productivity, and reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. 

At Catalyst, we train staff, managers and leaders to be able to identify and manage workplace stressors and act accordingly to make employees feel valued and happy thereby creating a positive, thriving environment.

For more information on our workshops and seminars, visit: http://www.cbduk.biz/Book_Leadership_workshop.asp

 

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