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Tag Archives: stress management

Pressure can create both diamonds and dust

pressurepressureI’ve previously blogged about how the situations of adversity can lead to opportunities for growth and development – about how pearls begin life as irritants and frustrations, and about how incredibly high heat can turn a simple clay pot into exquisite porcelain.  But as quick as I am to point out the gains that can arise from difficulties, it is also worth noting that there can also be another, not so positive, outcome.  Pressure has the ability to create both diamonds and dust.

Which leader are you?

Which is also a great metaphor for how you can choose to deal with workplace pressure situations.  The reality of today’s workplace is that pressure is a common occurrence.  How you choose to cope with the pressure will determine whether you end up a diamonds or dust.  You can either look at it face on, as a positive, as an opportunity to prove to the world what you are capable of … ergo create diamonds.  Or you can hide and hope the problem will fade away (or someone else will deal with it) and become a victim of the situation … the metaphoric equivalent of dust.

As a leader, you will encounter a vast array of pressure situations.  Continue reading

When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s worth considering another approach

“I can’t talk to you for very long, Merge, we’re buried!” said a client when I returned his call earlier this week.  “What’s going on?” I asked.  He went on to describe the turmoil and chaos in his department at the insurance company where he works.  “We’re overwhelmed at work.  Claim volume is up 200%, our phone lines are flooded, and our call agents feel like they’re drowning.  Plus I can’t get enough adjusters out into the field fast enough, and clients are getting frustrated so they’re calling in more than usual, increasing call wait times even more.  I feel like we’re in a dark tunnel with no end in sight.  Help me!”

Now obviously, this manager’s current state of affairs is driven partially by external circumstances (in this situation, recent weather-related catastrophic events are the root cause of the increased call volumes).  But I was reminded of a phrase often used by a mentor of mine many years ago, so I asked this manager to look at the situation with another filter.  My mentor frequently used to say “Just because it is dark doesn’t mean we’re buried.  Often, it means that no one has bothered to turn on any lights”.

It’s the leader’s job to turn on the lights

Fortunately, the phrase caught my client’s attention.  Enough for him Continue reading

Leading overwhelmed employees online event – early bird deadline on October 1

Businesswoman With Stack Of DocumentOur latest online event – Leading Employees Who Are Stretched to the Limit – is coming up quickly.  In fact, the early bird deadline to register is almost here – only two more days to take advantage of significant savings – just until Wednesday October 1.

If your employees are overloaded and overwhelmed, then you have a responsibility to find ways to reduce the stress and alleviate the pressure for your team.  If you don’t things are going to deteriorate rapidly.  Left unchecked, your overworked, unhappy and overwhelmed employees will become inefficient and unproductive. And eventually, poor morale is the inevitable result.  If you’re a leader, then your staff are counting on you to help them cope AND keep performance and productivity high.  On October 8, I’ll be leading a live online event “Leading Employees Who Are Stretched to the Limit” and I hope you’ll join me.  In one fast-paced content-rich hour, I’ll give you the tools you need to help your overextended employees meet their goals AND reduce their stress. In one jam-packed online learning event, you’ll discover numerous concrete practical actions you can take, both now and in the long-term, to keep your employees satisfied and productive, even when things are stressful. You can support and guide your “stretched to the limit” employees; you just need to know how!

Click here to register now

Here’s just some of what you’ll learn: Continue reading

Leading overworked employees – live online event on October 8

Overworked office employeeAre your employees overloaded and overwhelmed? In talking to clients in just about every industry, it seems that everyone wants greater productivity and improved responsiveness, but as workloads escalate, time and resources don’t seem to increase at the same rate!  Yet everyone seems to expect more … for less!  Having said all that, it really doesn’t matter how or why it happens, as a leader, you have a responsibility to find ways to reduce the stress and alleviate the pressure for your team; otherwise you’re going to find yourself in a world of trouble!  Because if you don’t, your overworked and unhappy employees will become inefficient and unproductive. And left unaddressed, poor morale will inevitably result.  Bottom line: your staff are counting on you to help them cope AND keep performance and productivity high.

On October 8, I’ll be leading a live online event “Leading Employees Who Are Stretched to the Limit” and I hope you’ll join me.  In one fast-paced content-rich hour, I’ll give you the tools you need to help your overextended and overworked employees meet their goals AND reduce their stress. In one jam-packed online learning event, you’ll discover numerous concrete practical actions you can take, both now and in the long-term, to keep your employees satisfied and productive, even when things are stressful. You can support and guide your “stretched to the limit” employees; you just need to know how!

Click here to register now

What are you waiting for? Sign up now, your team will thank you!  And if you act by October 1, you can take advantage of early bird savings.  Here’s just some of what you’ll learn: Continue reading

Three steps to less workplace stress

MichelleMay2Dr. Michelle May is a member of my mastermind group, a small group of professional colleagues that serve as an informal advisory panel to each another.  Even though she usually spends her time helping people break free from emotional eating, I persuaded her to guest on the blog today, writing on a subject that I know is on the minds of leaders (and their employees) everywhere – managing workplace stress!  At its core, stress is a medical issue so I knew that Dr. May would have valuable advice to offer.  And she didn’t disappoint!

x —————— x —————— x

When you’re experiencing stress, your impulse might be to power through, freak out, or stick your head in the sand (procrastinating, eating, drinking…you get the idea). As we’ve all noticed, behaviors such as busy-ness, overworking, smoking, overeating, drinking alcohol to excess, isolation, and taking our frustration out on others, perpetuate the stress reaction. Continue reading

Workplace frustration drains motivation and lowers performance

frustrationLast week, I blogged about leaders who often get frustrated about aspects of their working environment.  See How to approach a difficult working environment.  A reader sent me a link to this paper: Workplace Frustration: A Silent Killer in Today’s Organizations  (published last year by the Hay Group) to emphasize that it isn’t just leaders who face workplace frustration, but also their employees, often because of their leaders.  Point taken.  So in the spirit of giving insights to leaders who want to make their workplaces less frustrating for their employees, I offer the following summary of the Hay Group article.

When held back by work environments that hinder performance, employees get frustrated.  Frustration is an inherently unstable state, so within a year, frustrated employees will do one of three things: Continue reading

How to approach a difficult working environment

CanongateI often hear from leaders who are frustrated by working within what they characterize as a difficult working environment. They feel like they are not given the resources they need, the authority they require, or the support from senior management they want in order to make significant progress towards achieving company, departmental and personal goals. It is in conversations such as these that I am reminded of the words that are carved in stone on the Canongate Wall in the Scottish Parliament buildings in Edinburgh.

Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.

The quote is attributed to Alasdair Gray, who further admits that he actually paraphrased it from Canadian Dennis Lee’s poem titled “Civil Elegies.”

Just because you work in an environment that is frustrating doesn’t mean that you have to be frustrated. In your mind, create your ideal workplace. Identify exactly what it is that you’d like to achieve in your current role. Continue reading

Recovering from workplace setbacks

Usually when I attend conferences, it’s as a speaker.  But last week was different.  Last week I attended a conference where I was an audience member and I got to sit back and listen to a variety of speakers.  I particularly enjoyed Robyn Benincasa’s story.  Robyn is a professional adventure racer, known most for being a two-time world champion of the multi-day expedition-length Eco-Challenge.  One statement in particular that she made about her experiences caught my attention.

Pain is mandatory but suffering is optional.Pain_Suffering

Robyn was of course talking about the numerous setbacks and obstacles her four-person team faced over the course of the grueling 300 mile race.  But I found her message to be even more relevant to the workplace.  Whether it’s on the adventure race course or at work, we all know that stuff happens!  Continue reading

Keep stress levels low all year, not just during the holiday season

Happy new year everyone!

The latest issue of Insider HR Magazine (published by the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation for its employees) features a story about how to “sanely navigate through the holiday season and arrive in the New Year with a smile and some new-found energy.”  I was honored when editor Susan Marshall-Scorgie asked if she could quote me in the article.  Read the short (one-page) story Twelve Tips for the Holiday Season and then come on back to the blog and share your ideas in the Comments section below.  Even though the holiday season is at an end, it’s never a bad time to learn more from each other about how to keep stress levels low!

What will it take for a rattlesnake to bite itself?

In his landmark book Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind, respected herpetologist Laurence Klauber describes what happens when a rattlesnake is prevented from escaping out of the hot sun. A rattlesnake is exothermic which means that it normally controls its body temperature simply by moving into a cooler area. But if it is unable to do so, its body overheats and within a matter of minutes, death results. As the temperature rises, the rattlesnake gets more and more agitated, trying everything it can to get away, including biting itself in the final minutes of its violent efforts to escape the torment. Essentially, in desperation, the rattlesnake contributes towards its own ultimate demise.

“People perform better under pressure,” is a refrain I often hear when talking to managers and supervisors when they are justifying the fast-paced and stress-filled nature of their organizations and departments . Continue reading