Is change or stress affecting your productivity and judgement?
Lynn Bray, business consultant and coach from OutOnaLym Consulting, provides Christchurch quake-effected business owners some tips on how to regain control of their life and workplace and reduce stress.
Do you feel that you have one foot in Christchurch and the other mentally in any other city than Christchurch? And deep down are you either resisting or resenting the changes that have been inflicted upon you? Perhaps your colleagues or teams aren’t as engaged as they were previously, or you feel like you are working in a pressure cooker that is about to blow. Do you wonder why people just don’t listen, and agonise over how to start pushing your teams for productivity without appearing heartless?
I was in the same boat. A huge part of me wanted to get away from Christchurch and the rest of me wanted to be a loyal Cantabrian and stay. I felt stuck. My family is here. Their partners have jobs, or family who don’t want to leave. But mostly they can’t afford to move! So I couldn’t move even if I wanted to, or so I told myself.
Then I realised I had to get off the fence and commit to being here – or commit to leaving. In my heart of hearts I knew I couldn’t leave my family, but I hadn’t consciously brought that decision to consciousness, or even acknowledged it, or owned it!
Resisting making a decision allowed me to passively resent the changes that had been forced into my life, stamp my feet and wail how unfair the world was – old and ineffective behaviour.
My built up resistance and resentment had affected my:
- communication with everyone, one way or another
- energy levels, and
But most of all, like many other workplaces I have come across in the same situation, it affected my perspective and judgement.
It didn’t take me long to ask myself the same questions I ask my clients: – “Where else in my life do I resist making a decision or procrastinate, hoping that it will sort out or go away?”
Upon reflection I realised that usually I don’t resist or procrastinate unless I’m really stressed and flick back into old behaviour. It made sense. Like everyone else, I was stressed and living way outside of my comfort zone. So I just decided – it was that easy! Once I was 100% committed to staying in Christchurch it was a huge relief. But that was just the start. I then had to take some action.
Eight steps to taking back control in your life/workplace and reducing stress
1. Decide. The old saying is true: ‘advice is what you ask for when you know the answer and wish you didn’t’. If you listen to your gut instincts you will know what to do. To uncover the decisions you need to make, list them under columns headed:
- What do I need to stop doing – what’s not working for me?
- What do I need to start doing – what needs to change?
- What’s working for me that I have to continue doing – What am I grateful for?
- What can’t I control – what’s outside of my influence?
- Most importantly, what can I control instead of reacting to?
In doing this you must challenge yourself. Don’t stop with one or two things, write at least 20 things that you can influence. You will be surprised how many there are.
2. Verbalise your decision. Commit to your decision by telling your family, friends, colleagues and your people/team at work. Uncertainty is destructive, so be decisive.
3. Be accountable. Own your decision. You have choices – you may not like them, but you do have them. By owning your choices you will be able to take control rather than feel controlled. Get out of the blame game, and take responsibility.
4. Start doing. Set clear actions and make sure there is not a gap between your intention and your outcome. Remember, when setting actions – actions aren’t outcomes – they are the actual steps required to achieve the outcome. This may seem obvious, but it’s not. When I ask managers and leaders for an action, inevitably they say something like ‘I will listen better’ – this is an outcome, not an action. An action might be that I turn away from my computer and look directly at you when I listen to you so that I will listen to you better.
5. Discover the communication style of you and your team. Take responsibility for your communication style. Some of the biggest breakthroughs with both individuals and teams occurs when we have done profiling to understand why people have differing communication needs, how they react when people are stressed, and, how to take ownership of the way they communicate.
6. Give up trying to be the GM of the Universe. Let go of the things you can’t control. Focus your time and energy where you can make a difference. Most procrastination comes from fear, and the dread is often worse than reality, so give it up!
7. Trust yourself. Worrying doesn’t remove the fear of tomorrow; it just robs you of your energy today. It’s impossible to trust others if you don’t trust yourself.
Persevere and stay strong. Decisive action will reap rewards. As Jennifer J Freeman once said, “You are too smart to be the only thing standing in your way”.