Let’s face it – other than frequently creating a financial hit, change can really take the zip-a-dee out of your doo-dah. So how do we deal with change with grace and ease? How do we make it easier for our brain’s naturally negative response to change? It all begins with clarity. These three simple steps can set the foundation for successfully coping with change.
From the Desk of a Recovering Perfectionist…
You’ll often hear me in deep discussion about resilience and wellness, or delving into the secrets of brain health in relation to high-performance, high-pressure environments. But this time I’m taking a step back to shine some light on one of the most debilitating, demoralizing and damaging aspects of life: Perfectionism.
Check out this quick 10 question quiz to see how you rate in the burnout department.
(AKA: Recognizing signs of burnout)
Ever felt this way? I suspect we all do at some point, but there can come a time when the cynicism, exhaustion, and general pissed-off-ishness is hard to shake. When a generally positive person starts to become unusually irritable, or apathetic, burnout may be on the horizon.
The first time it happened to me, I didn't recognize it. In fact, I was completely in denial.
There is a strange fact about the human brain … it might be in the midst of a stress or threat response (fight or flight), and you might not be aware of it. If your brain has (correctly or incorrectly) sensed that you’re in danger, your body experiences a cascade of hormones and physiological responses, so you can fight or flee to safety. It’s a great thing if your life is in danger, but the response can also happen when you react to stressors that are not life threatening, like traffic jams, a performance review, or relationship woes.
While at a fantastic conference this year I met an strong, smart, professional woman who came up to talk after my keynote. We had a chance to really connect, and it turns out, she had been experiencing memory loss since the death of her husband, even though she had been able to grieve and move forward. She asked me if her memory would come back. Needless to say, I didn’t know, but here is what I DO know:
Change, any kind of major change, is hard on the brain. There are things you can do to make it easier on your brain of course, but the fact is that change can be hard on the brain. You need to understand that first, so you can then take steps to make change easier.
So often we hear about the importance of engagement – of touching the hearts and minds of employees. It’s true – it makes a huge difference. But how about touching the brains of your employees? No, this isn’t about a zombie apocalypse, nor some bizarre new implant – it is simply about knowing more about people and what makes them tick.
Let’s face it – the core of who we are as employees – as people – stems from our brain. How we respond or react, how we engage or isolate, and how we perform in good times and under stress – each of these things is dictated by a response in our brain. So – doesn’t it make sense to have a greater understanding of the human brain and it’s automatic responses to the world around us? ...
Are you a high-performer? Do you get more done than most people? If not, do you want to?
If you want to give your body and mind every opportunity for health, vitality and success, you can take a few easy steps, with your brain in mind.
There are so many things you can do to ‘build’ your brain and keep it functioning at peak levels, and I’m certainly not going to cite them all here, but here are three easy things you can do today to support your brain…
I have worked in corporate communication for about a decade. The department was very successful, trusted, and added a level of trust and camaraderie to the corporate culture. In my time doing corporate communication, I have never worked inside an HR department. What’s more, in large organizations I believe that the communication function should never be buried in HR. For some people, that may sound like blasphemy...
When people ask me about my communications work, I say I do "highly leveraged communication." Then come more questions... What is it? How is it different? What are the benefits? Where should the function sit in the organization? Here are the answers:
Highly leveraged communication is integrative, impactful, and strategic in nature. It focuses on results. It is not about just sending out messages from head office on the newest initiative or creating newsletters. It is not just about sending emails from the president or owner. Alone, those things alone seldom drive engagement, build trust or enhance performance. That kind of communication can be ineffective and even counter productive...
A Global Workforce Study on Engagement by TowersWatson shows that globally, sustainable engagement is at risk, particularly with the prevailing requirement in organizations to “do more with less." Most often, when an employee is expected to do more with less, their frustration and stress levels go up. That hurts morale and performance levels. It can also increase absenteeism and the number of people who take short term leave. The study shows that 65% of the workers surveyed around the world are not engaged.
No surprise — the study also shows that highly engaged employees are more productive at work and have less absenteeism compared to their disengaged colleagues. That impacts the bank account! When you consider the impact of engagement on financial outcomes, having over half of workers disengaged costs organizations a lot of money.
It has been said that ‘good engagement’ levels will be reflected in what employees say about the organization, if they stay at the organization, and if they strive to do their best for the organization (and what discretionary time are they willing to share with the organization). Of the three, I have found that what people say about the organization can be a game-changer. More on that next month. In the meantime, this is where you can find the survey:
Adrienne White is a communications and change expert who specializes in burnout. For more information contact Adrienne through "adrienne (at) MyCommsAdvisor (dot) com."
Improving your financials through internal communication.
Listen to your employees. Talk to your employees. Educate your employees. Consult your employees. Can it really make a difference to your financials? YES!
Whether or not you plan it, your employees are ambassadors for your company. They represent your company’s brand and reputation when they’re at work and play -- on squash courts, in boardrooms, and at BBQs. So what do they say about their workplace?
When communication in a company is weak, it can lead to disgruntled employees. When employees feel frustrated – that they’re not in the loop – that no one is telling them what is going on – it is not unusual for employees to leave, explore unionization, or stay in the company and become a disruptive and negative force. Needless to say, those employees are not going to be saying much that is good about their workplace. What can you do?...
Do you want to experience success in whatever change initiative you bring to your company? To achieve that, if may help to examine why over 70% of change initiatives fail to meet their objectives.
When you look at experience and research, most everything points to a primary source of failure – communication with people. It may be that the right people were not included (or even consulted), that people weren’t given enough notice of the change, there was no champion, or people were not trained effectively. The change happened, but the transition wasn’t supported. Maybe customers felt blindsided or a newspaper wrote an unflattering editorial and the company’s reputation took a hit. Whatever the case, it all boils down to ensuring a big-picture (systems) approach that examines communication, training and development, systems, policies and process.
In this short piece the focus is on communication: What can happen if is not done well during times of change, and what communication practices can lead you to uncommonly high success...
Adrienne E. White (because there are so many "Adrienne Whites") writes about performance, wellness, brain health and burnout. Her corporate writing links communication & change to financial health (largely by increasing performance, trust, wellness and brain health).