5 Tips to Help You Switch Off From Work

5 Tips to Help You Switch Off From Work

By Karen Amos

I see a lot of posts on social media about people who find they can't switch off during the holidays.  Is this you?  Whether you're going away somewhere or having a break at home, the feeling that your long awaited holiday is finally here, but your mind's whirring like a machine and all you can think about is how many jobs there are to do when you get back - if not before!

As a note of reassurance here, you're not alone.  The pace of the working week can seem relentless.  For some the 'end of the (working) day' never really comes, particularly with the advent of home-working.  This means we're living in an 'Always On' state of high arousal levels and stress.

In simple terms, this means rather than your adrenaline response shutting off, allowing your stress to ebb and flow naturally, your brain has its foot on the gas pedal and keeps it there.  This response is supposed to be fleeting - just long enough for you to get yourself out of imminent danger.  In the case of workplace stress, it can remain in place.  For months sometimes.  This leaves your body and brain unable to simply flick the switch to turn off the response, even though it's not needed any more.

So what to do?  Here are a few tips to help train your brain to lift its foot off your stress gas pedal, so you can work and rest productively.

Tip #1:

See time off as an investment - Explore and clarify to yourself how you will be more productive if you take time off to rest, whether that's for an evening, a weekend or a holiday.  Set out clearly what you would gain - naming it makes all the difference, then you know what you're aiming for.

Tip #2:

Make a list of everything that needs to be done - Include everything, big or small.  This allows you to stop worrying that you’ve forgotten something and allows you to stop spinning those mental plates.  Remind yourself you can add any jobs, when they come into your head as you go along.

Tip #3:

Prioritise what needs to be done – Do a reality check and ask yourself - Is this thing possible? – is it essential? – Also ask yourself what would happen if this wasn’t completed before the end of the month, or if you were off sick?  Chances are most of these tasks will be less 'urgent' and 'important' than you feel they are right now.  Where you can, block out things into a basic timescale or planner.

Tip #4:

Switch off your media – This means no checking in on emails and social media.   Give yourself a digital detox and if you find this makes you anxious or you have such strong ingrained habits to pick up your phone, put your phone or laptop out of reach at least for a short while.

Tip #5:

Find something practical to do – If you engage in a practical activity, you're more likely to be distracted from the anxious feelings, at least for a while.  Get outdoors for some exercise.  Not only is this a great stress-buster, it will also help you to sleep.  Whether it's indoors or outdoors, book activities in that you enjoy and revel in that restorative distraction.  Why not catch up with friends and family too?  Having a laugh and talking with others is a great distraction.  Just stick to those positive people in your life and avoid the 'joy stealers'!

Hopefully, these will help you set some positive habits and ensure you have some quality time off so you're well-rested and on top of your game when you return to work.  In the meantime, here's wishing everyone a positive and productive month, no matter what you have planned!

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how our coaching and training services can help you, check out our website HERE, or call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Does your wellbeing strategy add to your stress?

Does your wellbeing strategy add to your stress?

By Karen Amos

Are you working in education?  Are you feeling under pressure, stressed, or that your general wellbeing just isn't that great?  You probably already know this, but I'll say it anyway - you're not alone.  BUT WAIT!  Whatever happened to the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter?  After all, it was only launched in Autumn 2021 and who doesn't love a new initiative...?

Thinking back to my time in leadership roles in the public sector, the NHS in particular, I can remember that sinking feeling when yet another ‘initiative’ landed on my desk.  Not that they were always bad (although to be fair, some were shockers), but I recall that feeling of overwhelm, wondering where and how I could find the resources and time to actually implement this, without dropping another plate.

I’m not going to tell anyone working in education that they have a tough job.  That’s like telling a sheep it’s woolly.  There’s a degree of acceptance of an education professional's lot in working life – and by this I’m meaning everyone working in education, not just teachers - and to corrupt a song, 'a teacher's lot is not a happy one'.  The fact is the statistics make grim reading.

I don’t believe there’s anything to gain in playing misery ‘top trumps’ with other jobs and sectors.  This doesn’t get anyone anywhere.  Many sectors have huge issues with stress and burnout, each with its own particular issues and education is no exception.  The fact is however, that education does rank in the top 4 most stressful occupations in the UK. ¹

So here are some numbers:

  • 72% of education professionals described themselves as being ‘stressed’ in 2021 (84% of senior leaders)2
  • Unsurprisingly, this was up from an already high 64% in June 20202
  • 70% of Education staff (80% of senior leaders) who considered leaving the profession did so due to workload2
  • 54% considered leaving due to personal mental health and wellbeing2

I believe this is the tip of the iceberg and that the issue is significantly under-reported for many reasons.  If you have time, do check out the links below for more information.  (Short pause for you to laugh derisively at the word ‘time’…)

From a leadership view, I see there are two issues with wellbeing in the workplace. 

Firstly, there’s an ethical issue.  No-one should come to work and be made ill or unhappy.  That’s my mantra.  I have personal (negative) experience in this area.  We can all have a rubbish day from time to time, but if we’re accepting this as the norm, then something’s seriously broken.

Secondly, there’s the financial issue - and let’s face it, this is often the deal-breaker.  Few would argue against the ethics of having a healthier workplace and workforce.  The difficulty lies in implementing this – either though lack of time and resources, or simply the financial pressures of balancing already stretched budgets.

NB: Whilst there’s also a legal/compliance issue with wellbeing, I’d suggest this comes from a combination of ethical and financial (i.e. costs to the state) issues.

So, if the finances are the clincher, here are a few more stats:

  • 50% of all working days lost in the UK in 2020/21 were due to work-related ill health1
  • Education is one of the top 3 most stressful sectors in the UK 1
  • Poor mental health amongst employees costs £42–45 bn in the UK each year - This includes the costs of absence/presenteeism and turnover3
  • The cost of poor mental health to the UK education sector (and public purse) is estimated to be £1.1 – 1.5 bn per year3
  • This equates to £1203 - £1585 per education employee per year3

So what to do?

Whilst there’s lots everyone can do to improve wellbeing in education, it’s obvious there is no quick fix and I’ll be writing more extensively on this in future articles.  In the meantime however, we should take note of the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter4 , where it states that there are no expectations that ‘managers [will] provide professional wellbeing support for which they have no professional training.'  In short - you can't be all things to all people.

Instead, I suggest we should take a holistic view, rather than the traditional sticking-plaster approach.  This will take time and starts with building a wellbeing culture.  To do that we need to throw away any badges of honour that go with working ridiculous, impossible hours and begin meaningful conversations with those around us.  This means we have to be prepared to hear uncomfortable truths.  Additionally, it’s now time to check our own personal story - from one that talks about ‘overworked education professionals', to one that says ‘This is not acceptable’ and ‘I deserve more’.

  1. HSE – Work related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain - 2021
  2. Education Support – Teacher Wellbeing Index - 2021
  3. Deliotte – Mental Health and Employers – Refreshing the case for investment – Jan 2020
  4. The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter

If you would like to find out more about BrightBird's online Positive & Productive Wellbeing Programme, click HERE.

Down-to-earth, straight-talking support for you and your team to manage stress, build resilience and time management skills and develop a positive mindset.  Delivered at a time and pace to suit you.

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports education leaders and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and wellbeing. 

 


Team Coaching - What is it and how does it help?

Team Coaching - What Is It And How Does It Help?

By Karen Amos

Whilst one-to-one coaching is becoming increasingly popular, team coaching has been slower to catch on.  The term itself sparks interest, but there's little information out there about what it actually entails.  Reason for this is that team coaching is an evolving concept.

Here are some Q&A's around Team Coaching:

What is Team Coaching?

Team Coaching is a way to implement the approaches and benefits of coaching within a group and organisational context.

Working with groups of people - rather than 1:1 - teams work together to overcome issues that they and/or their organisation are facing. This enables them to build a positive, problem-solving approach to their work.

When would you use Team Coaching?

Team Coaching can be used for:

  • Supporting teams to work through times of change or crisis
  • Implementing projects
  • Building new teams
  • Developing and supporting leadership and management teams
  • Supporting individuals with professional development within peer groups

How does it work?

  • Groups or teams of between 4 and 10 people are identified
  • These groups meet on a regular basis – e.g. weekly/fortnightly/monthly
  • Can be online via video meeting, or in-person
  • Sessions last between 1 ½ and 2 hours
  • A programme of sessions is agreed – we recommend at least 4 sessions
  • Team Coaching – a coach/facilitator supports the group to identify the issue they wish to work on, with clear outcomes

          or

  • Peer Coaching – Individuals within the group set out their own issue they would like to work on that week
  • The group are supported to use incisive questioning and coaching tools to seek solutions to the identified issues
  • The group or individual then decide actions they will take by the next session
  • These actions are reviewed at the beginning of each session

 What are the benefits?

  • An effective tool in change and crisis management
  • Builds personal and collective responsibility
  • Brings accountability
  • Helps with team-building
  • Helps team to develop coaching skills
  • Develops a positive, solution-focused mindset with clear outcomes
  • Excellent for leadership development – builds confidence and reflective skills
  • Builds a cohesive team approach to issues
  • Allows individuals and teams to feel supported within the organisation
  • Helps to manage stress and build resilience
  • Builds more agile teams and ways of working

Who is it for?

  • Leadership and management teams of all levels
  • Project teams
  • Peer groups within organisations
  • Function teams
  • Work groups

Why do we need a facilitator?

An experienced and qualified coach facilitator is essential to get the best out of team coaching. They are able to clarify objectives, manage expectations and behaviour and most importantly, ensure the session remains coaching focussed, rather than just an advice-giving session, or a talking shop.

We find that without a facilitator who is experienced in coaching, most team coaching quickly deteriorates into a ‘moan-fest’ or ‘catch up’ session, losing the desired positive, results-focused approach that was intended.

Initially, many members of teams will naturally veer towards advice-giving, rather than coaching.  An experienced coach facilitator is able to recognise this and help develop the team’s coaching and incisive questioning skills and thus, effectiveness.

What’s the difference between Team Coaching and a staff team meeting?

Rightly or wrongly, staff team meetings often centre around updates and procedure. They’re inevitably facilitated by a senior member of the team, or manager and as a result have an imbalance of power and issues around accountability and responsibility.

Team Coaching creates a more equitable environment, where everyone is expected to contribute and take responsibility for finding the solution to an issue.  It focuses very specifically on one, or a small number of issues, with the intention of seeking and implementing tangible solutions to this.

If you would like to book team coaching for your business, organisation or school, or would like an informal, no-obligation chat about how this can work for you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Check out our latest training offers at https://brightbird.wordifysites.com/services/training-courses/

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Feeling Overwhelmed? Try Chunking...

Feeling Overwhelmed?  Try Chunking...

By Karen Amos

I recently returned from holiday feeling very rested.  I was raring to get stuck back into work – I’ve loads of exciting work, opportunities and projects going on right now.  The thing is I didn’t – get stuck into work I mean.  I just couldn’t find the concentration required to knuckle down to the work, with the inevitable self-recrimination that brings.  That just brought me more stress.

The thing was I couldn’t understand why.  I love my work and all the jobs I had lined up were things I enjoy (well, apart from my book-keeping, but let’s not talk about that right now!).

So what was going on?

I’ve finally realised after a few days it was good old overwhelm.  I was simply trying to hold too much in my head at once.  Now those of you that already know me will know I’m a huge fan of lists, so I don’t have to hold loads of info in my head, so why didn’t they work?  The answer was that the tasks felt too diverse – they were like confetti being scattered all over the place and I was spending way too much mental energy keeping it all swept into a pile.

So here’s when I decided to chunk my work.

Chunking is simply the art of pulling together similar pieces of work or information to allow our brain some space to actually work on things.  There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but here’s how it worked for me…

Step 1 – I wrote down the main functions of my business – e.g. financial, marketing, clients, etc.

Step 2 – Under each of these I listed the main things I need to achieve over the next month – e.g. follow up clients, arrange meetings with contacts, write blogs…

Step 3 – I created a ‘Drop List’ on my One Note app where I can check in with these mini ‘chunks’ and ‘drop’ any new items in there as they arise, or that I may have missed.

Step 4 – Check in at the beginning of each week to plan in time to address each of these issues.

But isn’t this just adding another layer to an already significant workload?

In fact, this is just the opposite.  Now I’ve captured everything I need to do and organised it into meaningful ‘chunks’, I have freed up brain space to actually work on the tasks.  This also gives me opportunity to schedule work into my planner, helping me to estimate how much time I’ll actually need to complete the things I’ve identified.

Along with this, as a person with strong visual preferences, I've colour coded each chunk too.  This helps my brain to separate these out.

The result?  A clear focus, less anxiety and more productivity.  Give it a try if you’re feeling that you’re just not making a dent into your tasks.

If you would like to find out more about how you and your teams can improve their time management and productivity, whilst minimising stress and overwhelm, check out our new Positive and Productive online programme.

For schools

For Business and VCSE organisations

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Professional Fatigue – Taking steps to recovery…

Professional Fatigue – Taking steps to recovery…

By Karen Amos

‘Fatigue’ and 'Exhaustion' seem to be the word of the moment for many, with an inevitable impact on productivity and mental wellbeing.  Of course, some sectors are suffering more than others, education and health care to name but two, but there are increasing signs of strain everywhere.

Whilst there's no magic wand (I wish!), here are some tips and coaching questions to help you on the road to recovery...

Prioritise:

I’m not going to suggest you just down tools.  OK, if that’s possible with no consequence, go ahead, but for most people that just isn’t the case.  There will definitely be some activities that are ‘must do’s’ at the moment however, and some that will have lesser consequences if not done immediately.

'Where am I feeling the pressure right now?'

Ask yourself, ‘Where am I most feeling the pressure right now?’, then list all the things you can do to minimise or eliminate this, however improbable these may seem.  Talking this over with a colleague or someone else you trust can help you out of the ‘stuck-ness’.  It may, for example, feel impossible that you can hand some tasks over or re-schedule, but an outside perspective often helps bring a new reality.  Many more things are possible than we first perceive.

Another useful question to help challenge is, ‘What will happen if I don’t do this activity right now?’ and if it’s unavoidable, ‘How long can I postpone it for to give me more space and time to restore my energy levels?

Rest:

This is so obvious to be insulting right?  But, even in the best of times, most people don't get enough proper rest.  Again, it’s easier said than done, but many of us are experiencing a state of underlying anxiety and in some cases, possibly hypervigilance.  This leads us to constantly scan our horizon for threats and reassurance that all’s ok.  Signs of this include sleeplessness and constant checking in, or compulsion to check in on the latest news and social media updates.

The paradox is that the more we check and strive to stay on top of things, the more tired and less productive/more anxious we become.

Here are some ways you can give yourself permission to rest:

  • Take time off work – This is the obvious one, but many of us haven't had a 'proper' break for months now and have nothing booked in for the near future.  It seemed a bit pointless to take time off when we couldn’t really go anywhere during lockdown and for many people a 'proper holiday' means abroad.  No matter what your plans, it can help to plan some activities in beforehand though, so you feel your time has been well spent – even if that means catching up on some reading or taking a day-trip from home.   Taking time off means a complete break however – no checking in on calls, or emails.  Just a couple of days can make all the difference.  To do this consistently, engage and discuss this with your team beforehand to ensure you’re not disturbed.  Remember to plan ahead and book the time off in your diary.  It's unlikely to happen if you don't.
  • Cut out the media Give yourself a social media break. You can do this by:
    • Allocating a specific window of time you’ll check in each day
    • Blocking or unfollowing accounts that you find stressful or negative
    • Asking yourself, ‘Will reading this help me right now?’ if you’re tempted to click on something contentious that’d send your blood pressure soaring
    • Having a social media ‘holiday’. Switch off or even uninstall the apps on your phone
    • Make social media unavailable. If you find yourself getting caught in a ‘scroll hole’, put your phone out of reach. I charge my phone on the landing each night, so I don’t take it into the bedroom
  • Ration the news Things are changing fast at the moment, so it’s natural to want to be on top of developments, but again, this can feed anxiety. One way to solve this can be to set a daily check in on the news.  Choose your preferred news ‘channel’, be that on TV, the radio, or the internet and set a time each day where you’ll have a proper catch up.
  • Set manageable working hours Even in the best of times, there’s always more to do than there is time to do it in. Accepting that is the first step to taking back control.  Remember that the longer we work, the less productive we become, so long working weeks quickly become counterproductive.
    • Planning a start and finish time for your day in advance.
    • Set out what you wish to achieve that day – remembering to keep this realistic and finish as soon as you've completed your tasks.
    • Plan in what you will do when you finish work. That way you’ve something to aim for.
    • Packing away your laptop/work equipment when you’ve reached your finish time. This is particularly important when working from home.
    • Asking someone to give you a nudge when you reach your prearranged finishing time.
    • Telling work colleagues when you will/won’t be available and asking them to help you with this by not contacting you outside these times.

Looking at the tips above, try this coaching question:

 

Remember to enlist others to help you to succeed.  Your colleagues, friends and family can make great accountability buddies.  Good luck with your next steps...

For further support for you or your team, check out our training page HERE.

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Coaching's fine - but I don't have the time...

Coaching's Fine - but I don't have the time...

By Karen Amos

I was asked in a webinar this week what I would say to the viewpoint that managers are too busy to coach.  This is something I hear often - and as someone with years of management experience, I completely get it.  You want to develop your team. You can see there are issues and want to find solutions, but the issues are pressing, there are a hundred other items on your to-do list and everyone is demanding your attention.  And that's on a good week!

It's hard to find a sustainable way out of this.  I recall when I was most under pressure, the first thing to slip would be staff one-to-ones, with the inevitable conflicts and crises because I'd taken my eye off the ball from what really made the difference - the day to day support and performance of the team.

Stephen Covey succinctly captured the importance of ongoing team support and development in his Time Management Matrix. (1)

 

Quadrant 2 is where the real performance happens.  The times you and your team have been in a 'flow state', or 'in the zone', where everyone is fully engaged, energised, focused and committed to the task in hand, that's Quadrant 2.

Unfortunately, these periods rarely last in practice and we find quadrant 1 and 3 activities impinging and taking over, leading to more firefighting and round it all goes again.

Rather than leading us to Quadrant 2, the current circumstances with the pandemic have dumped us right in the centre of Quadrant 1, whether we like it or not - with a huge heap of Quadrant 3's calls, meetings and emails for good measure.  And with this comes overwhelm.

'I don't have time to coach...'

This is where I would suggest you don't have time to NOT coach your team.  Don't get me wrong - I've been there with the 12 hour days and 6/7 day weeks and know how hard it is to see daylight.

By taking a coaching approach with your team - asking incisive questions, understanding what the problem is and giving back personal and collective responsibility - you free yourself up and stop trying to be a one person solution to everything.

Coaching is an investment...

See time spent coaching as an investment.  A small investment of time and effort for exponential gain. The investment that will move you out of your current situation.  The one where your team don't look to you for every answer and you can finally begin to concentrate on the things that really count.

One-to-one coaching, particularly from an external coach brings amazing results to the workplace, but it does come at a cost.  If this is outside your budget there are other options.  You can introduce Team Coaching, where with facilitation, the team coach themselves to find solutions to issues.

Additionally, you can introduce 'Coaching Conversations' as part of your organisational culture. Culture being 'the way we do things around here'.  This means any conversation in the workplace can be a coaching opportunity, whether that's an informal catch up over zoom, whilst you're waiting for the kettle to boil, or in a one-to-one meeting.  All of these can be based on the coaching principles of 'ask not tell'.  A powerful way to generate positive action and buy-in from your team.

So before you tell yourself you don't have time - why not have a coaching conversation with yourself and ask what you'll gain from a relatively small investment of your time to introduce coaching to your team.

  1. Covey S.R., (2020). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Simon & Schuster. UK

Check out our latest training Essential Coaching Skills Webinars HERE

If you would like to discuss coaching for your business, organisation or school, or would like an informal, no-obligation chat about how this can work for you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Positive & Productive - News about our NEW beta programme!

BREAKING NEWS!

We're delighted to announce our new Positive & Productive online programme - due to commence January 2021!

This programme will bring you all the aspects and content from our existing popular training workshops, including:

  • Time Management & Work-Life Balance
  • Managing Stress & Building Personal Resilience
  • Building Confidence

The programme will consist of a combination of:

  • Short recorded webinars
  • Workbooks and training resources for each session
  • Live, online Q&A's on a variety of subjects
  • An online community to share ideas, progress and support

Check out our course leaflet for more information:

SCHOOLS

BUSINESS & ORGANISATIONS

We're bringing this at a special discounted price of £49 per person, so grab your place whilst they're still available.

We are able to offer significant discounts for group bookings - get in touch for a no-obligation quote!

If you'd like to find out more via a no-obligation chat, you can contact us on 07714 855757 or email info@bright-bird.co.uk

To make a booking, complete our booking form HERE

 


Don't be an ostrich - Dare to ask!

Don't be an ostrich - Dare to ask!

By Karen Amos

The change continues inexorably onwards, although thankfully not always at this pace.  It’s clear however, that the current challenges and uncertainties are going to be with us for a significant time to come.

There are an overwhelming amount of challenges facing managers and business owners as we leave lockdown, whether that's in business, schools, or organisations, including:

  • Bringing staff back into the workplace from home working or furlough
  • Managing geographically dispersed teams
  • Managing redundancy and re-structures
  • Managing the health and safety needs of staff and the public

Whilst home-working has introduced increased effectiveness in many areas, there are difficulties too.  If you’re used to asking a question from the person sat at the next desk for example, there’s an inevitable time lag if you’re homeworking.

Additionally, whilst there was a huge novelty factor for many at the start of homeworking, there’s now a marked division in those who want to remain working from home and those who are desperate to return to the workplace.  Failure to address this will cost many businesses enormously.

Socially distanced working and constant change also means managers have to work extra hard at employee engagement, particularly when there are tough business and strategic decisions that need to be taken.

Of course, with challenges also come opportunities.

  • For managers and business owners to review their role and what this means in relation to the team and productivity
  • To forge a new, stronger relationship with the team
  • To re-generate a more positive culture
  • To harness new ideas and ways of working to strengthen the organisation for the future

The challenge of course, is how to maximise those opportunities in the face of what are complex business and organisational landscapes.  How do you balance the need for honesty, whilst giving your teams the support they need?

The answer lies in questions.  This will be no surprise to many of you that by this, I mean taking a coaching approach.

I know from personal experience that this can be scary.  After all, we may not get the answer we would like!  I’ve certainly worked with some people in my remote past whom I would have quailed to ask for fear of opening the inevitable humongous can of worms that would follow.  With that comes the ostrich approach to management.  You know the one – asking the cheery, ‘How is everyone today? All well? Oh, good!’, whilst departing the room at a rate of knots.  But at least you asked didn’t you?

Nowadays thankfully, I know better.  Asking meaningful questions doesn't mean throwing yourself to the lions, then being left in a position where you can’t possibly deliver on the answer.  Instead this involves employee engagement in its truest sense, where everyone is supported to take appropriate responsibility for seeking solutions.

Often our first response is to jump in and ‘do the right thing’ like some managerial Tigger, who is inevitably left wondering, ‘What happened there?’  Instead, we’re talking about a more consultative approach.  Coaching isn’t about giving everyone what they ask for – the needs of the business must come first, after all, that’s why you’re all there.

 

 

 

 

Ask yourself and your team the following coaching questions to help understand what’s really needed:

  • What is and isn’t working for you right now?
  • How would you prefer things to be in an ideal world?
  • What do you need to be productive and well at work?
  • What are your main challenges right now?
  • What do you foresee your challenges to be in the short/medium and long term?

Then follow up with:

  • What would help right now?
  • What can you change in your practice or way you’re approaching things that would help?
  • What practical measures can you, the team, or the organisation put in place?
  • What support do you need, from whom and how often?
  • How can you provide support to others?
  • How will you recognise that things are not working in future?

The obvious approach is for managers to schedule dedicated one-to-one time with employees on a regular basis.  The solution for one employee, may not be right for another, but again this is something you can agree on individually.

Another way to embed a solution-focused attitude within the team is through implementing Team Coaching.  This is an extremely effective tool in times of change and uncertainty.  The team can work out the above issues, supporting each other and taking responsibility for finding and implementing the solutions. It’s also a powerful way to build accountability.

Either way, taking a coaching approach does involve an amount of courage for any business owner or manager, but the positive benefits for the team and business or organisation will be considerable and will far outweigh the costs and anxiety of being an ostrich.

If you'd like to find out more about Team Coaching, get in touch.

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Professional Fatigue – what to do when you can’t even reach your bootstraps…

Professional Fatigue – what to do when you can’t even reach your bootstraps…

By Karen Amos

‘Fatigue’ seems to be the word of the moment.  I’m hearing it everywhere.  From managers, business owners, workers, head teachers and parents.  I usually come into the bracket of positive, or at least pragmatic in the face of challenge (to the consternation of the nay-sayers!), but even I’ve succumbed to bouts of negativity and fatigue in the last week or so.

Some of the most positive, chilled out people I know have told me they don’t recognise or even like the person they are at the moment – they’re fractious, complaining, negative, angry… The fact is people are exhausted – mentally and emotionally drained.

So what’s happened to cause this?  It’s not that long ago that everyone was lauding the positive ‘New Normal’, of a slower, kinder pace of life and this is what they were going to take forward from now on.

There’s probably no single reason for these feelings, but here are a few possible causes.  Of course, being a coach, this isn't just a moan-fest, so I've also included some first steps and coaching questions to lift us out of this situation.

Change:

Change is mentally and emotionally challenging at any time, but we’ve had relentless change for over three months and there’s no sign of this letting up – which brings…

Uncertainty:

We have no idea what’s coming next. Is it right to be optimistic? What if we are and our hopes are dashed? How long will this situation go on for? The questions are endless and often unanswerable.

Responsibility:

Responsibility can be both personal and collective.  People working in positions of responsibility know the day to day challenges they face around the wellbeing of their staff and stakeholders, but now the potentially catastrophic effect of their decisions, both physically and financially, is front and centre.

Constant giving of support can leave personal reserves depleted, particularly when there are difficult decisions to be made around working conditions and employment.

Environment:

Most people now have a clear idea on where they sit on the ‘homeworking/office working’ spectrum.  Many have recognised their needs aren’t been met when solely working from home, particularly if they’re child-wrangling/home-educating at the same time.  Virtual office ‘quiz nights’, simply can’t replace the required level of social interactions for those who need this.

Lack of control:

This has rightly been explored in detail throughout the pandemic.  The issue is that the lack of control continues, not just at a government level, but also societally.  We’re given rules to follow, but other people aren’t necessarily conforming and we have no control or even influence over their behaviour.  This in turn introduces the issue of…

Personal Values:

This is our inner voice – the one that gives us direction in our lives and governs our decisions and behaviour.  When other people behave in ways we don’t morally agree with, our emotional response can be extreme.  This can quickly lead to feelings of anger, overwhelm, hopelessness and inevitably, exhaustion if we can’t reconcile these.

So, what to do?

Be Mindful:

This is often a necessary first step in self-care.

This isn’t about gaining some kind of Nirvana-like state, but merely acknowledging and being aware of how you’re feeling.  It’s not always easy to admit, even to yourself, that you’re behaving or thinking in a way you don’t like, that may not fit with your values.

Hit the pause button and take a few minutes out, however briefly, to think about what's going on for you right now.  Accept that it’s natural and normal in the current circumstances and that it won’t be permanent.

Reflect:

On what’s causing your fatigue?

Try this coaching question:

Identify what the underlying reasons are.  There will likely be at least a couple.  Finding and isolating the cause will help put a brake on your internal mental hamster-wheel, bringing some rational thinking into the equation.  You then have a starting point to begin taking practical steps to resolve some of these.

We’ll look at more tips and coaching questions to improve your wellbeing and productivity in our next blog.

If you would like to find out more about how you and your teams can improve their time management and productivity, whilst minimising stress and overwhelm, check out our new Positive and Productive online programme.  

For schools

For Business and VCSE organisations

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


The End of the Honeymoon Period... Now What...?

The End of the Honeymoon Period... Now What...?

By Karen Amos

A few weeks ago I wrote a post describing workplaces as being in the ‘honeymoon period’ of dealing with the pandemic.  Whilst this seemed incongruous in terms of the crisis that was occuring, there was by and large, a strong sense of the Blitz spirit of ‘we’re all in this together’.

I’d suggest we’re now well and truly out of that honeymoon period.  Thinking and behaviour is becoming fractured and in many cases, fractious.

In the workplace, tensions are rising.  Obviously so in places like schools, who are pulled in many directions, both practically and ethically, but also elsewhere.  Some people are returning to work, whilst others remain on furlough.  Pressure heaps upon managers and business owners to justify their decisions and reconcile these with staff teams.  Performance and behaviour management issues are back on the table.

On top of this, many of us are experiencing an unwelcome return to a more frenetic pace of life and trying to work out how to resist being dragged back into old, unproductive ways of working.

It sounds messy and in many cases it is.  So, what to do?

I believe this is the kind of situation where coaching as an approach comes into its own.  Leading  teams is challenging at the best of times, but increasingly so when tensions run high and staff are spread over numerous locations.

Individual coaching has obvious benefits – helping the person to address the particular difficulties they are facing.

Team coaching however, is a perfect answer to many of the issues businesses and organisations face right now.  Teams need to build a new identity, find ways to solve emerging issues and build accountability, responsibility and equity when the ‘workplace’ can mean many things.

Team Coaching brings an opportunity for teams to challenge themselves and own the situation they find themselves in – whether management, project, function or operational teams.  It also acts as a development tool to enable team members to take responsibility for problem-solving within the workplace.  This takes away the excuses and expectations that it’s the manager’s responsibility to provide all the answers.

So, whilst it’s no magic wand, Team Coaching really can provide the road map for businesses and organisations to negotiate their way out of this unchartered territory we find ourselves in – moving out of the honeymoon period to longer-term, more harmonious working relationships.

If you would like to book team coaching for your business, organisation or school, or would like an informal, no-obligation chat about how this can work for you, call us on 07714 855757, or email info@bright-bird.co.uk.

You can find out more at https://brightbird.wordifysites.com/services/training-courses/

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.