‘Rust out’ to ‘Burn out’ – finding the sweet spot in the middle.

‘Rust out’ to ‘Burn out’ – finding the sweet spot in the middle.

The term ‘burn out’ is widely known and perhaps now a little overused but ‘rust out’, the term occupational psychologists give to symptoms arising from jobs that leave people chronically lethargic and apathetic has received far less attention.

They sit at the opposite ends of the performance / stress curve but many of the effects feel remarkably similar – mistakes increase, focus is lacking and ultimately the quality and volume of work suffers. Without a sense of purpose and meaning it’s easy to become low and distracted at work, from here it can be difficult to find motivation and interactions with colleagues and customers are quickly affected.

Everyone needs a different level of outside stimulus and the same external stressors can have markedly different effects on people doing the same role. An individual’s resilience to cope with an increase or decrease in external stressors and then naturally return to the healthy balanced place of ‘optimum stimulation’ will also vary. It’s important for productivity and employee wellbeing for managers to have not just the awareness to notice changes but also the time to spend understanding the causes – whether someone is heading towards rust out or burn out addressing the issue early will prevent the dips in confidence and performance that are costly to reverse.

Many leaders are now alert to looking for the signs of stress from over stimulation but the effects of under stimulation attract far less attention even though they can be equally damaging. Research by occupational psychologist Dr Sandi Mann found a third of British workers found their jobs boring and he believes that the harm caused by boredom may exceed that caused by overwork. Unchecked under stimulation can lead to depression and in extreme cases physical symptoms. With the flatter structure of today’s businesses the opportunity for promotion can be limited; new employees who started with enthusiasm can quickly become bored and disillusioned, older staff without the stimulation of new challenges may find themselves disengaging – merely going through the motions and counting off the days until they can retire.

So what can you do to ensure energy levels remain high and employees feel engaged and purposeful? It’s a tricky balance but perhaps the most important thing is to ensure you’re not too busy to notice the early signs, spend time talking – be prepared to really listen, to find the aspirations and interests that may have become dulled by boredom or overwhelmed by work. There’s no quick fix but the good news is employees with ‘rust out’ will have spare capacity to train and develop new skills – by giving them attention and interest you might spot talents that you were unaware you had. Under stimulated employees frequently lack confidence in their abilities and ironically may be less likely to put themselves forward for additional responsibility, actively involving them in new projects can help to rebuild confidence and self- esteem.

Burn out and rust out are both extremes caused by long-term stress; the symptoms of burn out are exhaustion with rust out it is apathy and disengagement – learn to spot the symptoms early and you can find the ‘sweet spot’ between the two. In the real world employees will have natural highs and lows but build resilience and they will return naturally to working with creativity and satisfaction.

On Point Coaching works with leaders and teams to manage stress and build resilience – it costs nothing to talk to us about how we can help develop your people and improve business profitability.

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

On Point Coaching - Specialist in Leadership and Team Development

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If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you and your business then we would love to hear from you. Our initial consultations are always free of charge and our costs up front and transparent.

Email – helen.burgess@onpointcoaching.co.uk

Telephone - 07766 655148

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The ‘Amy’ Question

The ‘Amy’ Question

On my journey to work this morning I was reading Nancy Kline, ‘Living with Time to Think’ and this quote absolutely stopped me in my tracks.

‘What do you know now that you are going to find out in a year?’

Perhaps particularly poignant to read as 2016 draws to a close and I find myself wondering what 2017 will bring. Nancy Kline calls this her ‘Amy question’ after the person who first ask it and started her thinking about why we lie to ourselves and fail to acknowledge the things we already know. Denial doesn’t make them go away and our logical brain knows that hoping for the best, not raising or discussing an issue doesn’t stop us churning and mulling and yet we still do it.

So take a few moments to ask yourself the ‘Amy’ question;

‘What do you know now that you are going to find out in a year?’

Are there things in your life and work that feel too hard to face, whose very existence you are trying to deny to yourself? Then ask yourself if you do nothing will they really go away or deep down do you recognise that this time next year they will have become ‘urgent important’ – things that have to be faced but are now much harder, weighed down by unspoken baggage. Are these questions really so hard that they can’t be acknowledged and talked about – options considered, discussions opened?

This year, with thanks to Nancy Kline, I’ve decided to ditch the question ‘what should be my New Year’s resolution’ and ask myself the ‘Amy’ question and take time to think about the things I already know.

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

On Point Coaching - Specialist in Leadership and Team Development

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If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you and your business then we would love to hear from you. Our initial consultations are always free of charge and our costs up front and transparent.

Email – helen.burgess@onpointcoaching.co.uk

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Leading from the Middle

Leading from the Middle

This perhaps seems a strange choice of title for a company called ‘On Point Coaching’ but it came from thinking about who really are ‘The Leaders’ in a business.

Traditionally seen as being at the ‘top’ – giving directions, rallying the troops but in modern business is that really what leadership is like? Many organisations now have a flatter structure with the ‘middle manager’ being a thing of the past but with senior staff increasingly being asked to ‘step up’ and take additional responsibilities. In my experience promotion into a role with direct reports very rarely comes with training in the tricky art managing people and when coaching this frequently results in the ‘a-ha’ moments as we consider what is being said and done from a different perspective.

Leaders who ‘learnt on the job’ are greatly influenced in style by their early managers and even if they don’t like it find themselves unconsciously adopting the same techniques. Think of it a bit like parenting (which also mostly comes with no training), as our kids become teenagers we find to our horror that we sound increasingly like our parents!

Leadership has many different layers and facets and I am an avid reader of academic work in this area.  It is however perhaps one of the simplest pieces that resonates loudest with me; in 1972 Dr Robert McNeish wrote ‘Lessons from the Geese’ as a sermon for his church – he was intrigued by watching how geese co-operated to achieve so much more than they could alone. His work has been quoted many times as we strive to find the magic ingredients that make teams more than just the sum of their parts and I commend you to read the full piece but three points in particular seem very pertinent to thinking about ‘leading from the middle’.

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies on the point’

In business teams how many leaders feel confident to step back and let others take the lead when they are more able to do so? How many leaders burn out from the stress of responsibility because they don’t really empower others? It a simple lesson – take turns doing the hard stuff – don’t always try to be the one flying into the wind.

‘Geese in the formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed’en the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies on the point’

At first this can feel rather counter-intuitive. Much is written about the value of leaders giving praise and feedback to encourage their team but I have seen very little about the value of the team praising their leader. We recognise that its ‘tough at the top’; pressure, expectation, fear of failure can weigh heavily – anxiety about the future can paralyse a leader and prevent them making bold decisions in the present. If the chatter from the brew room is less than supportive it must surely undermine a leader’s confidence, impacting their courage to take key decisions which in turn affects the whole team and drives more negativity. In my opinion, everyone needs praise, recognition and encouragement given in an open and honest way irrespective of where they are in an organisation. Dynamic organisations need individuals to step forward, to have the confidence to lead on a particular project – surely they are much more likely to want to do this if they can see that a leadership role comes with support and encouragement.

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies on the point’

The lead goose seems to understand this and isn’t threatened by it – keeping the geese on their current track but open to the possibilities of better ideas coming from the others. In the world of business, leaders often attempt to ‘control’ or micro manage everyone below them – resistant to anyone expressing a different view. Instead of supporting innovative thinking it becomes a ‘my way or the high way’ mentality. Allowing others to take the lead into a different direction takes confidence but has great potential to springboard growth and development particularly in fast changing markets.

The terms ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ tend to be used interchangeably; for me ‘leadership’ is about inspiring and influencing yourself and others; ‘managing’ is more task focused it’s about organising and controlling to ensure work happens in a timely way. In reality many people find themselves being both – accountable for ‘tasks’ but with direct reports looking to them for guidance and support. Leadership is perhaps the most difficult skill new managers have to learn so don’t promote and then burn out your most valuable assets – instead invest in the support and training that builds the confidence to ‘lead from the middle’ and you will reap great rewards in engagement, focus and delivery.

I love to work with new managers and on talent programmes, developing effective leadership styles and helping them understand the power of emotional intelligence is such a rewarding area of my work. Coaching for me shouldn’t be just for executives – identify the people your business relies on – the ones that keep you awake at night worrying how you’d manage without them, and then invest in their development. Great leaders always create new leaders and I love this quote from Ralph Nader ‘I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers’.  If you want to develop your leaders now and for the future I would love to talk to you.

 

 

 

 

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

On Point Coaching - Specialist in Leadership and Team Development

Get in Touch

If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you and your business then we would love to hear from you. Our initial consultations are always free of charge and our costs up front and transparent.

Email – helen.burgess@onpointcoaching.co.uk

Telephone - 07766 655148

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Confidence is King – tips to ‘Faking it until you make it’

Confidence is King – tips to ‘Faking it until you make it’

Starting a new job, setting up a business or changing direction in your career is tough – I know from personal experience how easily the confidence can ebb away, self-doubt creeps in making you put off decisions and progress to your goals gets slower and slower.

Most people at some point in their lives suffer with a bout of ‘imposter syndrome’ kept awake at night worrying that they will found to be not up to the job, humiliated in front of colleagues or that they will let down those who believe in them.   ‘Imposter syndrome’ is invariably accompanied with high level of stress and a side order of perfectionism as we push ourselves harder and harder to compensate for our insecurities.

‘Faking it until you make it’ is all about self-confidence not about pretending you have skills you don’t.  Nobody likes a ‘big head’ so it’s important to understand the difference between confidence and arrogance.  Confidence means you know you can get the job done, you have the skills (if not the experience) to be successful. It’s important to honestly appraise your abilities and a coach can help to gaining true perspective.

Number 1

We all know that body language speaks louder than words so pay attention to what your body is doing.  Changing your posture every time you slump into insecurities will make a massive difference.  Walk Tall, Sit up Straight, Push Back your Shoulders and Lift up your Head.  The best way I know to de-stress and put everything back into perspective is to head into the fresh air and walk briskly looking at the sky! Instantly your body is taller, your shoulders are back and your head is high – the world looks very different and you get a completely fresh view on your challenges. (On a note of caution I have once or twice tripped on a raised paving stone doing this so take care!)

Number 2

It’s great to have those big goals, dreams and plans but look for progress in small incremental steps, don’t beat yourself up about what you haven’t achieved, celebrate what you have. Your journey to success isn’t a straight line, enjoy the journey, and enjoy the challenge of making it up the hills and take time to savour the view as you look back on how far you have come.  Remember to celebrate the small victories, they will increase your confidence and eagerness to tackle the next challenge. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by believing the hype of others when they boast how easily success came to them – it didn’t, they worked hard, got lucky and are often employing a large measure of kidology!

Number 3

Look for your role models, find the people you admire and watch what they do, how they treat people and how they treat themselves. Get to know them, ask them for their help – having a mentor to help you think through a problem or pause to enjoy a success really does make a difference. Journaling can also be a great way to break your thoughts from a ‘continuous mental loop’ of anxiety and indecision.  By simply writing things down you gain a new dimension to thinking and bring your thoughts back into perspective.

Finally on a note of caution, stress is cumulative and the physiological effects over a period of time will damage your health.  If you feel so overwhelmed every day that you feel close to panic then faking it may not be the best course of action.  Reaching out because the challenge is too great or the time frame to short is essential and human, we respect candour and honesty in others so extend this to yourselves.  Confident people have learnt how and when to say no.

I hope you have found this article useful I would love to hear your comments and ideas. If you would like to know more about coaching and how it builds confidence please message me at helen@archipelo.co.uk

‘Of all the judgements we pass in life, none is more important than the judgement we pass on ourselves’  – Nathaniel Branden

With thanks to Kim Morgan (Barefoot Coaching) and John Perry (Southampton University) Rebecca Knight (HBR) Amy Cuddy (Harvard Business School) Clance & Imes (Imposter Syndrome) whose ideas, teachings and publications have all been referenced and considered in writing this article.

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

On Point Coaching - Specialist in Leadership and Team Development

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If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you and your business then we would love to hear from you. Our initial consultations are always free of charge and our costs up front and transparent.

Email – helen.burgess@onpointcoaching.co.uk

Telephone - 07766 655148

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Growing your people – can your business afford not to?

Growing your people – can your business afford not to?

In the last 50 years there has been a shift toward viewing people as a business asset and recognising that an employee’s value can appreciate with training and support. The cost to any business of failing to invest comes in both financial and human terms but in SME’s the costs are magnified and the results far reaching.

Managing people is not intuitive – it is a skill that needs to be learnt and honed. Relationships are the key to the success of managers but many have risen and distinguished themselves through individualism and without training and support are unlikely to make the adjustments needed to be great leaders.

Statistics vary but when you look even at the ‘broad numbers’ it’s not hard to raise your business above the competition and reap rewards by making simple investments that offer big wins.

  • Over 50% of executives fail in the first 18 months (Navalent)
  • Over 50% of leaders report they have had no training (Corporate Executive Board)
  • Over 50% of leaders report inadequate support in a new leadership role (Navalent)

There are many off the shelf training programmes for management development but delegates lack post training support meaning key skills are not adopted into the workplace and therefore the resulting ROI is small. The Archipelo approach is different, by combining training and coaching we increase retention and application by up to 80% when compared with chalk and talk training alone. (FT Guide to Business Coaching)

To enable smaller businesses to experience our innovative leadership development programme Archipelo have created a two day workshop which is then supported with 1:1 coaching to ensure delegates have confidence to make change. Available in London or Manchester this innovative approach can deliver for your business the vital quick wins and long term development it needs.

Talk to us to find out more and ensure your key people hit the ground running not learning.

Helen Burgess

Helen Burgess

On Point Coaching - Specialist in Leadership and Team Development

Get in Touch

If you would like to find out more about how coaching can help you and your business then we would love to hear from you. Our initial consultations are always free of charge and our costs up front and transparent.

Email – helen.burgess@onpointcoaching.co.uk

Telephone - 07766 655148

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Copyright © 2016 On Point Coaching. All rights reserved.