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Resilience- The New Workplace Buzzword

Resilience- The New Workplace Buzzword

The Context

Every now and again, buzzwords creep into our business language. The main one at the moment is resilience, with leaders wanting to build resilient teams and raise people’s resilience in the workplace. But what is resilience? Can it be developed or even influenced? Many people refer to it as the stand-up syndrome, or the ability to persevere during tough times. Let’s begin by looking at the roots and definition of resilience.

Resilience in the face of challenging situations has been around for centuries, as is evident in myths, fairytales, art, and literature which portrays heroes and heroines. And it continues in today’s thriving movie industry. Just look at Aquaman, The Avengers, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, or Spiderman to name a few. It is only recently though that individual resilience is spilling over into the workplace.

Resilience was first studied as a scientific concept in the 1970s while researching children who were classified as high-risk problem children. Over the next three decades, further research was conducted which indicated that resilience led to increased positive behaviour, academic achievements, a happier and more satisfying life, and a decrease in mental illness, emotional distress, criminal behaviour, and risk-taking activities. Looking at these benefits, it’s no wonder that everybody wants to increase their resilience, especially leaders in the workplace. But resilience is more than just bouncing back from adversity. It has two important benchmark criteria: firstly that you are doing better than anticipated from the adversity, and secondly that there has been a positive outcome. It’s not just about bouncing back and being in the same state of mind as before. Growth needs to happen based on a “threatening” situation. You can obviously appreciate that resilience takes time, practice, and a mindset to develop. In a work context, adverse situations are often present, but do we always come out better than expected or grow from it? Our case study is about how to implement resilience in a working environment.

 

Client Background

Our client is in the insurance industry and has a solid track record of delivering excellent customer service. They go the extra mile with every client, and through their stellar quality work, outperform their competitors. The company is a medium-sized business with approximately thirty employees, which made it easy to engage with every employee and make a lasting and positive impact. The Managing Director had scheduled a strategy session with the team, and wanted to include tools and techniques to support the employees to be resilient in an anticipated challenging year ahead.

We were invited to facilitate a half-day workshop on developing resilience. The purpose was to impart knowledge and tools for the team on how to increase their level of resilience, and manage difficult situations and/or aggravated customers. It was about boosting the team with practical know-how so that they could thrive in the coming year.

 

Approach and Processes

We started off by providing background information on what resilience is, the benefits of developing it for both an individual as well as for the organisation, and ended off by sharing practical tools on how to build and maintain resilience. We also played a fun physical game with the team to assist them to transpose the learned material into real work-life situations. In this case study we will share two main resilience tools that you can apply in managing your day-to-day irritations, frustrations, and disappointments.

 

Tool 1 – Question your Internal Beliefs

In a moment of distress we seldom start by looking at ourselves, but rather jump right into being reactive and finding fault in the situation, which leads to us going down the blame and fault-finding path. This is not a helpful process for us. We taught the team to reverse this by questioning their assumptions and beliefs about the situation that was causing them distress; first looking inwards and then identifying their thinking traps. The practical tool to apply is the ABCDE method in which the following steps are followed.

The “A” stands for Adversity, and you need to pinpoint and name the situation that is causing you distress.

The “B” stands for Beliefs, and these are the assumptions you are making on what is causing you the actual distress. These are you sinkholes in your thinking.

The “C” stands for the Consequences of holding onto these beliefs around the adversity. It is very helpful to gain clarity of the consequences of holding onto the assumptions and beliefs.

The “D” stands for Disputation. Here we question ourselves whether the beliefs and assumptions are the only feasible explanation for the adversity. We begin to become open-minded and curious about possible alternative reasons. We challenge our thinking by looking for evidence and pondering the implications of our beliefs, assumptions and consequences.

Finally, the “E” stands for Energization. In this last step, we become energized by removing the limiting and negative assumptions around the adversity which usually results in us moving towards a positive action.

 

Tool 2 – Examine the External Environment

Only in this tool do we look outwards at the external environment that is adding to the level of distress we are experiencing. It can be friction with a colleague, time management, unreasonable work deadlines, or not having the necessary resources available. We imparted a short, practical tool for the team called ADAPT, and designed a plan of action to work through the adverse situation.

The first “A” stands for Attitude and is about questioning your mindset and exploring which thinking sinkholes are in the way. It also includes examining your emotions and the perception you have.

The “D” stands for Defining the problem and setting a realistic goal.

The second “A” stands for generating Alternative solutions. Brainstorming different ways of how you can accomplishing the set goal and writing down some alternative ideas.

The next step, the “P”, stands for Predicting the consequences. This entails examining the alternative solutions generated in the previous step, and evaluating their level of effectiveness. You start to look at things from all angles, and place yourself in other people’s shoes.

And the final step, the “T”, stands for Testing it. Moving into action and implementing the plan.

 

Impact and Results

This two-step process was a start for the team to adjust their thinking towards life’s challenges. It was about accepting that life is fluid, and that irritating, frustrating and annoying situations will happen to all of us on a regular basis. We cannot prevent them from happening, however we are in control of our thoughts, we can regulate our emotions, and we can choose how we will react and grow from the challenge.

For organisations, teaching people resilience skills is very beneficial to their profitability and productivity. In a recent study by Gallup in 2018, figures showed that 23% of people suffer from permanent burnout, and 44% from occasional burnout.

If your employees or leaders are experiencing similar challenges, and you’d like our support, contact us on info@4seeds.co.za to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our expert team.

 

The Secret to Employee Engagement

The Secret to Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has become a topic which has gained much attention over the past few years, with a wave of different strategies, tips and hints on how to get your employees more engaged in the workplace. While most of this advice is helpful, and is calling the attention of executives to the value of engagement in reaching company outcomes, some do not always address the root cause of employee disengagement.

The aim of this article is to reveal the secret to employee engagement – it isn’t your employees! The true measure of increased employee engagement is the organisational climate and culture which permeates on every level. A high level of motivation, proactivity and high productivity cannot be met in the frontlines alone. While every employee has the right to experience personal satisfaction in their work, they also feed into a bigger system of strategy and objectives which allow the organisation to grow and succeed.

At 4Seeds we believe in the power of the individual to influence the success of the whole. Our knowledge and expertise in the field of Positive Psychology has shown us that Positive Organisations are not crafted through short-term quick fixes or one-day team building events.

It is through a carefully managed system of continuous intentional actions that realise the potential of the individual within the structure and framework of the organisation.

In order to achieve sustainable improvements in employee engagement, an organisation and its leaders need to commit to a long-term strategy which puts people first.

The Happiness at Work Model which was designed and developed by the iOpener Institute for People & Performance is a highly valuable and proven method to improve not only employee engagement, but increase the bottom line through improved customer satisfaction, better business practices, and an overarching trust and pride in the organisation.

The Happiness at Work Model lays out the fundamental pillars of a successful organisation, as well as the core drivers of individual and collective success. These pillars provide the structural guidance needed to improve employee engagement – for the long-term. These are illustrated in the image below (courtesy of the iOpener Institute for People & Performance, Oxford, United Kingdom).

 

 

Key Questions that Define Sustainable Employee Engagement

 

“Would you fully engage with someone you didn’t trust?”

This is a key question to ask yourself when deciding to engage in a sustainable employee engagement strategy. If an employee receives mixed messages from company communications, they are unlikely to put their best foot forward; guarding themselves against being damaged. Trust in an organisation comes from developing transparent, open and reliable communication channels on every level of the organisation. It is the responsibility of the culture in the organisation to support the development of psychological safety and mixed messages, and varied responses from management and a lack of transparency can severely affect the development of trust in the organisation’s goals, management and agenda.

“Why would an employee be committed to your organisation’s mission?”

A key overarching symbol of engagement is commitment to the mission and vision of the organisation. Without a sense of how they meaningfully contribute towards the objectives of the organisation, employees are unlikely to feel fully committed which will in turn affect their level of engagement in daily tasks. Leaders need to provide sounds reasons and regular reminders of how amazing the organisation is and the impact its work has on its stakeholders, consumers and society as a whole. These regular reminders of the value of each person’s work in making a positive impact will grow pride in the organisation and its mission.

“If you don’t know that you have done well, why would you keep trying?”

We have mentioned the value of recognition and feedback many times in the past for its profound effect on the self-confidence, motivation, and positive emotions employees experience at work. However, there remains an assumption in many organisations that feedback is a formal, regulated quarterly review process. This attitude towards recognition hinders the constant employee engagement which so many organisations desire. However, in answering the question, an informal, continuous culture of celebration is vital for sustainable engagement and is the responsibility of every manager and leader within the organisation.

 

In Conclusion

This article serves to highlight the necessity of organisations to take responsibility for the structures and systems which can lead to employee engagement. While each employee needs to be groomed and developed individually, the secret to sustainable employee engagement lies in the trust, pride and recognition that exists in the culture of the organisation. Alter these consciously and systemically, and employee engagement will be just one of the positive side effects.

4Seeds is the ONLY accredited provider of Happiness at Work in South Africa. Our Happiness at Work organisational change management intervention has shown proven effectiveness across the board.

For more information on this powerful investment and how it can help you boost customer service, reduce employee turnover, and provide tangible results for stakeholders, contact us on info@4seeds.co.za.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Flow Psychology

Everything You Need to Know About Flow Psychology

What is Flow, and Why Do we Need it at Work?

Flow psychology is one of the main concepts behind employee engagement in Positive Psychology theory. First researched and coined by Positive Psychology co-founder Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow has gained a lot of attention in recent years because of its powerful personal and organisational benefits.

In this article, we will share what flow is, the benefits of increasing flow at work, and how to increase flow experiences.

Let’s dive in!

 

The Definition of Flow

Have you ever felt as if you lost time and your mind stopped analysing and planning while you were doing something you loved and valued? That was a flow experience. Flow is a unique state of high motivation, achievement, and satisfaction in what you are doing without external motivators or a perceived reward.

According to Csikszentmihalyi (1990), flow is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved and you’re using your skills to the utmost.

Flow is the unique state that can be reached through the healthy balance of challenge and skills. Have a look at this image.

 

 

 

 

If we are over-challenged and under-skilled we become anxious. However, if we are under-challenged and over-skilled, we become bored. Flow is the perfect “sweet spot” where our skills and our challenge meet.

How to Know When you are in Flow: The Eight Characteristics of Flow

Not sure if you have experienced flow before? Csikszentmihalyi describes flow according to these eight characteristics:

  • Complete concentration on the task at hand
  • Clarity of goals with immediate feedback
  • The transformation of time (either slowing down or speeding up)
  • The experience is rewarding and grows intrinsic motivation
  • There is a feeling of effortless ease
  • There is a healthy balance between challenge and skill
  • Action and awareness are merged (there is a loss of self-consciousness)
  • There is a feeling of confidence and control over the task

 

The Benefits of Flow in the Workplace

The extensive studies exploring the effects of flow for individuals and organisations have found some positive and powerful benefits to this “sweet spot” state.

From the brain perspective, two things happen when we are in flow. Firstly, there are five different neurotransmitters that are released into the system when we are in flow. Each of these contribute to the flow state being innately pleasurable, rewarding and motivating. Secondly, when we are in flow, we have reduced prefrontal activity (the part of our brain responsible for self-consciousness, self-doubt, and time awareness) which means that while we are in flow we are able to turn off our inner critic, forget about our other pressures, remove time urgency, and “be in the moment” with what we are doing.

These two processes of the brain activate some amazing personal benefits to flow including:

  • Increased sense of confidence
  • Increased information retention and learning
  • Increased productivity (even 15% more time in flow can boost productivity by up to 50%!)
  • Better sleep
  • More positive emotions
  • The ability to cope better with stressful situations

While these benefits alone are motivation to want more flow experiences, the more individuals who have flow experiences at work, the more positive benefits for the workplace as a whole. These company benefits include:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Improved productivity and product output
  • Improved employee morale and intrinsic motivation
  • Greater sense of meaning in work tasks
  • Better overall team performance
  • Increased commitment to company outcomes

Now that you have a better understanding of what flow is and how it can benefit the individual and the company in powerful ways, we’re ready to introduce some methods on how to increase flow experiences at work.

How to Support Flow Experiences at Work

“People reach a flow state three times more often at work than in their free time.” Csikszentmihalyi and LeFevre, 1989

This is an important statistic to consider when thinking about flow. The workplace can be a conductive environment for flow because it already has some key components needed such as clear, structured goals, immediate feedback, and challenges that require a high level of skill to complete.

There are many factors at work that prevent flow experiences, including high levels of occupational stress, poor role clarity, a lack of immediate and specific feedback, or a negative attitude towards one’s work. While an organisation cannot be responsible for many of the individual differences needed for each team member to experience flow, there are some general guidelines that can make your office more conducive to increased flow experiences.

 

Physical Structures for Flow

In recent years, the “bullpen” structure has become more popular for workplaces because it encourages collaboration, information sharing and social bonding, however this nature of working is not conducive to flow. In order to go into a flow state, one needs to be uninterrupted, undisrupted, and able to concentrate. If your organisation enjoys the “bullpen” office layout, then a good idea is to have a quiet zone where people can go to get into flow. Or perhaps look at having sectioned areas where people can do teamwork or individual work.

Sensory deprivation can also help to increase flow states, so become aware of the noise, visual stimulation, and the amount of movement in your office. If there is a constant change in the sensory pace of the environment, it makes it almost impossible for people to go into flow for long periods.

Another consideration is the physical comfort of your employees. When we are uncomfortable (ergonomically, changing desks regularly, or next to the toilet) we are less likely to get into flow as we will be distracted by the desire for more physical comfort. If the body requires attention, the mind will step out of the flow state back into the prefrontal cortex to analyse.

Social Structures for Flow

Flow states require immediate and direct feedback, whether this is from the task itself, management, or team members. The best way to ensure that this happens is to have a communication system in place which provides immediate feedback on completion of the task (an app which gamifies validation is a fun and progressive example, however it may be as simple as a quick daily check-in with each team member).

Another consideration in order for people to go into flow is for them to have fewer distractions – a culture of immediately responding to emails, urgent phone calls, and constant damage control are just a few examples of how your office culture can break down the chances for flow at work.

In Conclusion

A flow state is the optimal state of human functioning where challenge, skill and intrinsic motivation meet. A sure-fire way to enhance performance, boost employee engagement and increase company outputs is to encourage more flow experiences at work. While this is an individual process, there are certain physical and social strategies to consider which can boost the number of flow experiences employees have at work.

We hope you have learnt something new from this article, and welcome your questions and feedback on how this influences the flow states in your organisation.

If you require further assistance, or have some specific concerns or questions, please send us an email to info@4seeds.co.za

Why Self-Management Matters in the Workplace

Why Self-Management Matters in the Workplace

The concept of leadership does not often consider the role that self-management plays in effectively achieving business outcomes. However, while the demands on leaders increase as our organisations become more positive, there is a need for greater self-management for each individual in the organisation. This need will only grow in the coming years as flexitime, remote offices and digital collaboration becomes the norm.

 

Before we unravel how to grow self-management in the workplace, we need to define it.

 

Self-management is the ability of each individual in the organisation to demonstrate the skills needed to manage their own time and work priorities, the insight to manage their own emotions and behaviours, and the confidence to take responsibility for problems that arise and to report back accurately on progress.

In this article we will offer insight into how self-management can be developed in the workplace, and why self-management is valuable for the modern-day workplace.

While this may be challenging for some leaders to read and reflect upon, a growing awareness of how your leadership style can impact the growth and development of self-management in your employees is a strong starting point to grow your business for the modern world.

Self-Management Starts with Self-Awareness

 

The art of successful self-management is the ability of each individual to reflect on their own internal processes. Social and emotional intelligence and ownership of one’s beliefs and behaviours are key elements of self-awareness, the development of which can create trusting and healthy relationships between leaders and staff as well as between team members.

Each one of these components is a continued learning and growth pathway for individuals, and requires consistent effort in order to gain better management of oneself. As a leader in this process, there are a lot of benefits to you knowing yourself better and providing a pathway for the rest to follow.

If a leader is triggered emotionally or socially, they will be unable to manage the other individual from a healthy and objective viewpoint. Therefore, in order for individuals to become empowered to self-manage, they will need the support of a self-aware role model. The leader in this scenario has to be attuned to their internal world, aware of their own responses, and willing to take responsibility for their emotions and actions so that their staff respect and follow them based on influence instead of authority.

Developing emotional intelligence and awareness of one’s beliefs and behaviours takes curiosity, insight and self-appreciation. But one needs to be willing to not always be right but rather to choose to be authentic.

The process of self-awareness is not easy, however much of the conflicts, disengagement and employee turnover we are experiencing in the workplace are due to mismanaged emotions, limited beliefs and disrespectful behaviours which cause people to become disconnected.

Another element of self-awareness is to become aware of our character strengths. By virtue of the fact that we are innately good at something means we are more intrinsically motivated to perform any actions that use the said strength.

A strength focus is key to self-management, as individuals who know what they are good at and are given the opportunities (and the autonomy) to have their work align with their strengths, will need less management and incentives from leaders as the tasks themselves will provide the motivation to continue working towards their goals and provide quality outputs.

 

The Role of Leadership in Self-Management at Work

 

Self-management involves a non-hierarchical approach in the workplace. With working environments becoming less like a food chain of power politics, and organisational commitment at an all-time low, there is a need for individuals to become more autonomous in the workplace.

While this may seem daunting to many leaders who already have a lot on their agenda and a stronghold approach to employee management, the beauty of self-management is that once it has begun, it only needs to be maintained. However, a key element to building a self-management culture is trust – leaders will need to become aware of their own insecurities and ego in order to hand over the responsibility to their staff. While not easy or simple, one cannot be empowered to take care of oneself if someone else it taking care of us. A basic premise of this was first introduced by Stephen Karpman in his Drama Triangle Model.

In any conflict situation we tend to play one of three roles unless we have the self-awareness to step out of the circle:

 

1)      The Victim: Believes they need saving and if not helped will perceive themselves to be persecuted. These individuals will struggle to be independent and find it difficult to make decisions.

2)      The Persecutor: Believes they cannot be vulnerable for fear that they become a victim. They are inflexible and use power and criticism, however rarely solve problems or actually help the situation.

3)      The Rescuer: Believes they need victims to help and can’t allow people to succeed because then their role is not needed. They become guilty if not helping people and use guilt to keep the dependence of the victim. They often have a martyr style, and are usually worried, overworked and exhausted.

 

 

Do you see yourself in this triangle? I am sure you can see how this cycle perpetuates itself unless we have the insight to remove ourselves from it. If we start to adopt this lesson into leadership, we can begin to see how empowering others to step out of the triangle and into their own power is essential for self-management and healthy, trusting relationships.

This first step of self-awareness can help leaders shift from instructing authority figures to guiding role models. Employees can move from being victims into self-confident drivers of their own lives, and those that have the tendency to rescue can begin to look within and take responsibility for themselves and respect the decisions of others without becoming involved. Once out of the drama triangle, each individual can begin to align to the culture of the organisation and benefit the bottom line from their own autonomy rather than from an unconscious external motivation.

Self-management inherently considers each individual empowered to execute their role in the organisation. However, leadership still plays a vital role in this non-hierarchical process as only once leaders trust and support self-management, and take responsibility for their own self-development, can each individual in the organisation actually take responsibility for themselves.

Through a self-management culture, the daily burden of micromanagement, sleepless nights and fear of delegation can be reduced, leaving leaders to do what they do best; sculpt the vision of the organisation and create the systems that progress its mission.

 

3 Strategies to Make Conflict Your Friend and Change Differences into Potential

3 Strategies to Make Conflict Your Friend and Change Differences into Potential

 

An organisation is an organism – a (hopefully functional) system of individuals working together in teams to achieve the overall objectives of the business. However, each individual is different, and we all have our own beliefs, behaviours, strengths and desires. It is inevitable that the moment we work with others there will be conflict – conflict that we will all understand, perceive and behave differently towards. Here are just a few examples of what makes us different:

  • Age
  • Gender/identity/sexual orientation
  • Faith/religion
  • Cultural background
  • Belief systems
  • Personal values
  • Life experiences
  • Education
  • Work ethic
  • Personality profile
  • Character strengths

In a positive organisation, diversity is considered an asset, as the more differences that exist in a team the more innovative, effective and representative the business becomes. Positive conflict resolution thus plays a vital role in ensuring people see eye to eye and work collaboratively to achieve business outcomes.
 

Positive Conflict Resolution

So what is positive conflict resolution? It involves the willingness of all parties to forgive each other without punishment, to seek understanding and compromise and find ways to respect and tolerate each other for the greater good of the organisation. While this may sound like an ideal, and  difficult to achieve, it all starts with the collective desire to grow ourselves and others, to bring out the best in the people around us and believe that that they are doing the same for us.

Below are 3 fundamental strategies to start making conflict your friend and start bringing positivity into your working environment.
 

Unity

Organisations have a vision and mission, and each individual forms a vital part of achieving these goals. It is this common shared purpose that makes people show up for work, achieve their individual tasks and feel a sense of meaning from their contribution. This is the common ground which supports positive conflict resolution; however, this shared purpose needs to be communicated clearly (both verbally and written).

Another perspective to consider when driving home the idea of unity, and one of the fundamental principles of Buddhism, is the acknowledgement of our common humanity and our shared suffering. This takes empathy and may not be easy for everyone, but a good starting point would be “I recognise your humanity, I acknowledge that we are all trying to do our best, I respect your suffering because I too am suffering in my own way.”

While this may seem a bit fluffy, it is beginning to build a culture where everyone is heard, respected and validated. By having your employees acknowledge their similarities, a sense of unity is built, and people can resolve conflicts easier with the objective of reducing suffering and achieving the shared mission and vision in the organisation.

Trust

Trust in an elusive concept and can truly make or break an organisation’s employee job satisfaction and retention. Trust in an organisation involves each individual holding the firm belief in the reliability, integrity and capability of the organisation to meet their needs without doubts and suspicions.
 
Trust is developed over time from an ongoing sense of psychological safety – with colleagues, leaders and from the overall actions of the company. In order for employees to feel confident to trust, their Triune Brain needs to be satisfied.

The theory of the Triune Brain states that in order to learn, explore and grow, an individual’s reptilian brain – which supports their survival – needs to be satiated. They need to be out of fight or flight mode in order to really thrive. Conflict, while necessary and inevitable, is one area where unnecessary stress can build, and if not managed correctly can affect the individual’s ability to contribute and be productive.

Thus in order for employees to develop trust in the organisation, there needs to be:

  • Healthy, honest and transparent communication
  • Consistency in the enforcement of company policies across the board
  • Timeous reparation of confusions or misunderstandings
  • A shared belief in the organisation’s capacity to do good, for the good of their staff

Culture

Implementing a positive conflict resolution culture in your organisation requires consistency and a set of standards and expectations for all individuals, with no exclusions or special allowances – the CEO is as liable as the grounds staff to manage conflict in a healthy way.   In order to implement an effective conflict resolution policy, it is important to write down your organisational values and how these translate to the treatment of employees. Have these written up, signed by staff, and posted around the office to remind everyone of how to treat each other.

Another strategy is to encourage ongoing conversations where employees can air their concerns or questions. This makes them feel included, important and respected and can set the tone for the way the organisation’s culture grows. When people are heard and respected the differences in their opinions are more manageable as people do not need to fight for power and can build the psychological safety and confidence needed to really bring their best to work.

 

In Conclusion: Differences into Potential

Conflict is your friend.

It is through conflict that we learn more about each other, gain perspective on ourselves and harness the power of diversity. We are all different and conflict is inevitable; however, with a shared sense of unity, a strong trust in the organisation and a culture of healthy and safe conflict management, your employees will find their voice, express their best ideas and become more productive and collaborative. This culture of positive conflict resolution will enhance the overall effectiveness of the organisation to grow and thrive in expected and unexpected ways.

 

 

Five Reasons Why You Need a Coach in 2019

Five Reasons Why You Need a Coach in 2019

There is a reason why coaching is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world. A coach provides new insights on personal struggles, perspective on workplace challenges, and accountability for your best possible self. A coach offers a safe and supportive learning environment where you can grow and progress your communication, life satisfaction and overall well-being. And, as time moves faster and the demands for it increase exponentially, the need for coaching to support your growth and progress at work and at home is greater than ever.

Coaching, while a relatively new profession, has already had a dramatic influence on some of the greatest athletes, CEO’s and innovators of our time. These graphs published by the International Coach Federation (ICF) show the value of coaching for productivity and interpersonal skills at work:

coaching_benefits

No matter what you do, or where you find yourself, a coach is someone who is invested in your personal and professional success, at times even more than you are. Below are five reasons why you should invest in a coach for 2019.

 

A Coach Keeps You Focused on What is Important

There are countless demands for our attention and a myriad of personal goals we set for ourselves, daily as well as at certain intervals in the year. New Year’s resolutions are just one example of the milestones we set for ourselves in order to aid our progress and growth. However, as we all know, despite our best intentions we often lose sight of these goals due to distractions and urgent deadlines, leaving us feeling agitated and dissatisfied with ourselves. A coach is an excellent resource to keep you on track with the goals you have set for yourself.  

 

A Coach Provides Accountability

A coach becomes your personal accountability partner. Once you’ve decided what you want to work towards, your coach will remind you and keep you in check. Often, what we need in order to stay motivated despite our daily challenges is someone reminding us who we are, what we want and who we want to become. A coach knows your needs and goals and will support you to reach your potential, in your own time and on your terms.  

A Coach Helps You Save Time and Stress Less

Time is one of our biggest stresses in this day and age. We are constantly required to attend to different projects and people, despite having our own agenda and needs. The inherent stress of managing our relationships, tasks and personal and professional goals can become overwhelming, leading to health risks and negative consequences. A lot of our working hours are spent in a state of high stress and low mindfulness. A coach can help you to build the skills you need to manage pressure without becoming worn out. A coach is an antidote to stress, providing you with a sounding board for worries and concerns, and a fresh perspective on challenging situations.  

A Coach Can Help You Build Confidence and Keep Motivated

Motivation is a tricky thing, and we often find ourselves weakened by failures and setbacks. We become self-critical, and in turn, avoid or resolve ourselves to not achieving our potential. A coach can become an essential resource at these times, providing you with perspective, inspiration and objectivity which is impossible to achieve on your own. When you have a mirror to show you your blind spots, you can become aware of your limiting behaviours and harmful thinking patterns, and in turn, find new ways of living and working which can boost your motivation and show you your true potential.  

 

A Coach Can Help Increase Employee Engagement and Allow Your Business To Gain a Competitive Advantage

A recent study by ICF found that 65% of employees with a coaching culture were highly engaged. This is a massive improvement on the 13% engagement findings of Gallup from 2015. A coach provides powerful individual progress which improves the team and organisational effectiveness. In a competitive and challenging economic climate, this becomes a vital resource to leverage off and set your business apart from the pack.  

Are You Ready to Kickstart your Best Year Yet?

At 4Seeds we provide ICF-accredited coaching packages which suit any position or budget. With our professional and caring team of coaches, we can provide you with the motivation, accountability, engagement and insight to make 2019 your best year yet!   Click here to book a free meet and greet.  

Six Things Employees Really Want in 2019

Six Things Employees Really Want in 2019

The silly season is over and we can now begin to slowly get back into our work routines. It’s time to start planning our next twelve months with hope and optimism, and gearing ourselves up for a new year with inspiring strategies and stretch goals. We all have ideas as to how we’ll grow our businesses to the next level, but every plan is only as good as the person who executes it.

This raises a question for leaders: “What do my employees want in 2019?”

Besides having secure jobs that provide them with satisfaction, here are six things that employees want from their organisations because they provide fulfilment for them.

1. Meaning and Purpose

Research has shown that employees are yearning for work that provides them with meaning. This translates to them understanding whose life they enrich through their work. For them, it’s about establishing a personal connection to the work, and understanding how it contributes to others or society. Also, meaningful work means giving employees work challenges that are not mundane or routine based. These are projects that stretch and grow them but don’t set them up for failure.

2. Communication

Communication is such a vast topic, and can span from listening to receiving feedback and managing conflict. Although these may all be applicable, what employees want the most is to engage in dialogue in a kind, respectful and fair manner. They want to know that their ideas are heard and seriously considered. It’s important to them to receive regular feedback on their work as well as suggestions on what they’re doing well and where there is room for improvement.

3. Recognition

Conveying appreciation for work done is the foundation to motivate and stimulate engagement. Employees want to know that you, the leader, have seen their work and taken the time to praise them for it. They want to be recognised for their strengths, skills and the effort they applied to a task, which will result in them repeating the positive behaviour. This will in turn raise service quality, performance standards and customer satisfaction.

4. Job crafting

This is giving employees the choice as to how to complete a task. It may be scary for some leaders because they feel they’re giving away control, but employees want the freedom to decide how they perform a certain task. It’s important for leaders to give them the autonomy to bring in their creativity, personality and unique strengths. Leaders can set the boundaries of when they want something done which will ensure that it’s within the organisation’s policies and standards, but thereafter it’s good to give your employees free reign.

5. Work-life balance

The traditional 9 to 5 working day may look good on paper, but in reality, we often commit more time to work then that.  Employees want the agility to combine their lives with work, and vice versa, which will give them the flexibility to decide when they want to play and when they need to work. Again, stipulate the boundaries of the 40-hour work week, the need to complete tasks on time, and to come to the office at least once a week or whatever applies to your organisation and industry. Be mindful that people are productive at different times of the day, in different environments, and in various circumstances. As much as many organisations are doing their best to hold onto the traditional working hours, flexi-time will become the accepted norm.

6. Connections

We know that relationships are a key factor to our happiness, and having healthy, trusting relationships at work matters to us. Employees want good camaraderie and friendships with their co-workers because that reduces stress, enhances trust, and opens up communication. Make it easy for employees to have a social area where they can connect and exchange work experiences with their colleagues.

Employees aren’t demanding the impossible from their organisations, and with some effort and changes, every organisation can meet these six needs. Let’s be honest; we all want positive, fulfilling and happy work environments, and it doesn’t take much to make it happen.

Three ways to end the year off on a positive note

Three ways to end the year off on a positive note

The end of the year is fast approaching and with that, there comes the inevitable reflection on how 2018 has treated us individually as well as how we have fared in our work. It is easy at this time to look at what has not gone well or how we didn’t achieve everything we set out to accomplish. Negativity bias is a part of our survival instinct – we tend to focus on threats to our well-being rather than see the bigger picture of all that we have done. Negativity bias, while helping to protect us from harm, also limits our ability to feel satisfied and grateful for what is positive in our lives.

As social beings, another feature of our human programming is that we compare ourselves to others, using what they have achieved as a benchmark for our own accomplishments. While this social comparison serves to keep us in line and on par with others, it can also leave us feeling self-critical and even depressed.

It is at this crucial time of year, where employee morale can drop, exhaustion is setting in and people are naturally reflecting on their year, that we employ helpful and positive strategies to assist our organisations to find satisfaction and validation.

Positive Psychology aims to provide practical and effective strategies to manage our emotions and leverage our thoughts towards a sense of well-being and happiness. In this article, we will share a few key strategies that you can use in your organisation.

Three ways to end the year off in the positive

1) Three good things

As mentioned above, negativity bias is our brain’s way of identifying threats to our well-being. However, in this day and age, not all negatives are harmful to our survival, so we need to learn ways of countering this natural tendency to home in on what has gone wrong. A simple but highly effective strategy to help balance out our negativity bias is the exercise of three good things.

Take your team through a reflective exercise where they list all their failures or setbacks for the year. This will leave them feeling drained and often depressed – have them reflect on this feeling. The second part of the exercise is to couple every one of these negatives with three positive experiences they have had in the year and why they happened. These can be simple or grand macro level achievements they have had.

It has been shown that for every one negative we need three positives to balance our emotional experience; this is called the positivity ratio (Fredrickson, 2013). Once these have been listed, the team can share and reflect together. This exercise can be done collectively or individually and has many proven benefits for your team, including increased positive emotions, reduced depression and an increase in their sense of gratitude and appreciation.

2) A growth mindset

A growth mindset is one of your organisation’s biggest assets. To be able to review our challenges by the lessons we have learnt and how they contribute to our progress, rather than viewing them as an indicator of who we are and how we are limited. A growth mindset allows us to be more resilient and breeds optimism and hope for the future. If 2018 has been a challenging year for you, which is true for most organisations, this shift in thinking can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The best way to practice learning goal orientation is to review the goals set as an organisation as well as by each individual at the start of the year. While reflecting on each goal, answer the following questions:

1) How did you achieve this goal?
2) What were the obstacles you experienced in reaching this goal?
3) What lessons have you learnt in the process?
4) How does this change the way you will approach goals in the future?
5) What steps could you take to ensure you have better success?

This exercise is a valuable way for your team to reflect in a constructive way. Inevitably there will have been setbacks or obstacles to achieving your collective and individual goals. However, learning to view them as lessons towards personal and professional growth will assist your team to feel a greater sense of accomplishment and optimism as well as help them set constructive learning goals for 2019.

A growth mindset is also an effective strategy to empower your team to overcome their social comparisons, as reviewing their lessons on an individual level they are being validated for their personal growth and development. This provides a buffer to the effects of comparing oneself to others.

3) Gratitude

Gratitude is a concept which has received a lot of attention in recent years. This is because of its simple and yet profound effects on our sense of overall well-being, life satisfaction and for its ability to boost positive relationship building. Finding ways to be grateful in the workplace can have many effects on employee morale and help build healthier and happier teams.

Perhaps one of the simplest gratitude exercises you can practice at the end of the year is a written Naikan Reflection (developed by Yoshimito Ishin a businessman and devout Jodo Shinshu Buddhist). Ask your team to reflect on the following questions:

1) What have I received from (person x)?
2) What have I given to (person x)?                                                                   
3) What troubles and difficulties have I caused to (person x)?

Have the team reflected on these questions, write their responses and then share with the group. This exercise, while challenging, helps people to become aware of the resources and opportunities they have been afforded as well as to help them reflect on whether their actions have contributed positively or negatively to the organisation. You can tailor the questions to be more specific if necessary.

“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.”
– Dr. Robert Holden (“Britain’s foremost expert on happiness”)

In conclusion:

At the end of the year we automatically go through a reflective process, however, the way in which we reflect on what has happened in the year can affect our well-being and satisfaction. Positive Psychology has developed some simple and powerful tools to help overcome our negativity bias, social comparisons and negative emotions.

By reflecting with a positivity ratio, developing a growth mindset and cultivating gratitude, we can not only counter the end of year exhaustion but promote team morale, satisfaction and optimism. Whether you practice these at your next few meetings, or at your end of year function, all three of these strategies can help give your team the boost they need to end 2018 in the positive and start 2019 off with a bang. We wish you a healthy and reflective period ahead.

Eight Unknown Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

Eight Unknown Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

While the ever-present stress of working in today’s world puts strain on individuals and organisational cultures, there are some fundamental environmental and cultural factors which can ease the pressure. Unfortunately, even though we may want to do our best work and have a positive work experience, this is often compromised by factors outside our control, and these unresolved conflicts impact overall organisational culture and business success.

Most organisations don’t plan on being negative environments for their employees’ well-being; however if they don’t pay attention to the unseen culture of the organisation, it can lead to some serious negative side effects, including:

  • High absenteeism
  • Stress-related health conditions
  • Reduced productivity
  • Unhealthy and toxic communication habits
  • Politics and internal conflicts
  • High levels of dissatisfaction

These side effects speak for themselves in terms of the impact they have on organisational culture and employee well-being; however, what often happens is that we leave them untouched hoping they’ll resolve themselves. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and prolonged negative work environments usually lead to:

  • High staff turnover
  • Reduced work satisfaction which impacts commitment and motivation
  • Low staff morale and team unity
  • Higher amounts of HR issues relating to employee conflicts
  • Burnout

So how can we tell that we’re working in a negative work environment? Well, there are a range of factors, but the truth is – you’ll feel it. Mistrust, closed communication, reduced collective problem solving, increased discomfort and reduced motivation are key indicators that your organisation is on a downwards slope.

But how do you know if you’re working in a positive organisation?

In South Africa there appears to be a lot of focus on logistical elements of organisational management which, while important, can lead to the people focus being less highly regarded. In this article we aim to highlight the key signs of whether you’re working in a positive organisation, and through it we hope to expose you to the often unseen elements which impact your employees and, in the end, directly impact your bottom line success.

Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

  • Value Integrity

It is all well and good to have a values list stuck up on a wall in the office, however truly positive organisations bring their values to life. It’s simple to say, “we value diversity”, however is your organisation really upholding this value? Does everyone have equal representation? Can everybody share from their personal viewpoint without being shut down or silenced?

Value integrity comes in many forms from the words said, the actions performed, and the morals upheld in the organisation. These will differ depending on the values of your organisation, however one of the key indicators of whether you value integrity in your organisational culture is whether your own personal values are in accordance with those laid out by your organisation. If there is a connection on a personal level, it will filter out into every level of the organisation.

  • A Relaxed and Productive Environment Organisational Culture

While it may seem obvious that we need to work in an environment that is conductive to concentration and productivity, this may not always be the reality. Bull pens, casual interruptions, social media access and colleague conversations can all have an impact on our capacity to do the “deep work” that truly improves organisations. Another area to consider when reviewing your working environment is whether you’re relaxed in your work space. Our brains require a baseline level of relaxation before we’re able to fully commit our attention to the task at hand, so notice whether your work space allows you to relax and concentrate fully on your tasks. A positive organisation should be encouraging a conducive environment through physical, sensory and mental conditions, as much as is possible within the given industry.

  • Commitment to Excellence

A positive organisation prioritises quality as much as quantity when it comes to outcomes for its clients. This is a balancing act and requires attention to both features when considering employee performance. While this may seem obvious and most organisations already have quality audits to ensure they’re producing the best products, what can often be forgotten is the people side of what it takes to achieve excellence. A positive organisational culture should be supporting the employees within the organisation to upskill, learn, and progress in their careers, and experience personal development through their roles. When an organisation commits to the individual improvement of its employees, the overall quality of their outcomes grows exponentially. Is your organisation committed to excellence?

  • Open and Honest Communication

Corridor talk, internal politics and a lack of transparency are just some of the common problems experienced in many organisations. When open communication is not present, this can often lead to mistrust, a lack of psychological safety and employees wanting to “vent” to their peers which fuels the cycle to continue. Open communication can be either formal or informal, written or verbal. A positive working environment and an organisational culture with open communication will be easy to identify as there will be fewer cliques, less gossip, rumours, politics and uncertainty.

  • Collaboration and Support

A healthy and positive team environment is one that supports creativity, problem solving and collaboration. There will also be compassion, respect and understanding underlying interactions. If you’ve ever been in toxic team environment you’ll know the signs – taking credit for someone else’s work, backstabbing, rumour spreading, unequal opportunities for expression, and bullying. A positive team environment is perhaps one of the key elements to creating a positive organisational culture because once teams are working together effectively and supportively, it can quickly spread into the culture of the rest of the organisation. If you want to identify whether you’re in a positive organisation, start to notice whether you have collaboration, peer support, learning through doing (reflection and problem solving), and both formal and informal meeting opportunities.

  • A Sense of Humour

“A good sense of humour is an escape valve for the pressures of life.”

In South Africa we’re incredibly lucky to have a culture of humour. To laugh at ourselves, at what doesn’t work, at our frustrations and at each other in a kind way is one of our biggest weapons against the potential slip into negativity. A good sense of humour creates a light and playful culture within an organisation and can really be the antidote to daily stress as it releases endorphins and reduces cortisol (our stress hormone) built up throughout the day. Do you laugh enough in your organisation?

  • Flexibility

Unfortunately, in the traditional working paradigm, the elimination of humanity is standard operating procedure. A progressive, positive organisation considers the individual, and with that comes a flexibility in management of resources, time, expectations, methodology and differences in outcome – of course without compromising the quality of the organisation’s objectives. Flexibility while challenging to manage can be a vital way for employees to experience autonomy and acknowledgement because when we’re seen and heard as ourselves we’re more in control (over time use, task completion and work-life balance) and will experience a rise in intrinsic motivation and commitment to the organisation.

  • Emphasis on environment, family and health

In this millennial world, the nature of our organisations has changed. From CSI (Corporate Social Investment) initiatives, family fun days, unconventional team building events and wellness programmes, there’s a revolution happening when it comes to an organisation’s responsibility to support, respect and act towards improving the lives of its employees and the greater community. This is becoming more common in organisations across the board, but provides a good indicator to see whether you’re in fact working in an organisation that has positive intentions.

Take Home Message

There’s a lot of pressure to be a better organisation, a better leader and a better person. This article is not intended to cause guilt, blame or negative sentiments towards your organisation because it doesn’t meet these criteria. Rather, it may help to explain why you’re experiencing conflicts and chaos at work and will hopefully give you a starting point to begin making positive changes in your work place.

If you’re not sure where to start, then don’t worry. 4Seeds is passionate about building skills and resources for happier workplaces in South Africa and we’d love to help you.

We’ll gladly come to your office for a FREE 30-minute Positive Workplace Talk to help start the conversation and to build awareness about how you and your organisation can become healthier, happier and more successful. If you’re interested, or know someone who may need us, then send an email to info@4seeds.co.za and we’ll be happy to get involved.

The times are changing and we’re here to support you on your route to success.

7 Ways A Kindness Company Culture Can Boost Your Bottom Line

7 Ways A Kindness Company Culture Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Have you ever stopped to wonder what your company culture is centred around?

The topic of kindness at work would probably be considered controversial and unnecessary for a traditional organisation. However, as our need for happiness and satisfaction at work grows, kindness becomes a valuable and inexpensive method to change your company culture and boost your bottom line.

While in the past kindness may have been perceived as weakness, research is growing in support of the positive impact that a kindness company culture can have not only on your employees, but on your company’s success.

A primary concern for most companies in today’s economy is to ensure a secure bottom line, and to stabilise its workforce to guarantee consistent and sustainable income. And while this is a necessary consideration for any business to survive, the need for healthy and happy employees is imperative for any business to thrive. We know that a people focus builds profits, and while the tendency may be to lead the way we were led, if we are to create impactful and happy organisations we need to learn a new set of skills. Kindness, among other things such as resilience, engagement and purpose, plays a key role in building positive, productive workplaces.

For those of us who have experienced rudeness, pettiness or have been the butt of an office joke, the value of kindness is obvious. However, a growing body of research is showing some interesting and important findings about why a kindness culture in your workplace will boost productivity and serve your bottom line. Here are some of the findings:

  1. Kindness boosts customer satisfaction and sales

Customers want to be treated with respect, and if they have a negative experience with your staff they are likely to share their experience with others, and if you’re unlucky on social media. In today’s economy it is genuine kindness that can give your company the competitive edge as it encourages people to return and spread the word about your business.

     2. Only 10% of people say thank you at work

This statistic, while true, is also terrifying and begs the following questions: Do you thank your staff for their efforts? Do you make an effort to show appreciation for even the small roles that people play in keeping your company going? It is a fundamental human need to be respected and held in high esteem. We want to belong, and when we are validated for our efforts we begin to build positive relationships. So, next time someone brings you a coffee, or cleans your office, be sure to say thank you – it costs nothing!

    3. Kindness increases positive relationships in the workplace

Kindness in the workplace can be as simple as saying thank you, holding the door for somebody, or offering to assist a stressed colleague. However, it can be translated into even more beneficial behaviours such as the sharing of information. A company culture that encourages people to share resources, information and recognition is the true sign of a kind company culture. Sharing increases productivity, problem solving and creativity, thus producing better products with a greater impact.

    4. Kindness increases inclusion and reduces lawsuits

Sexual harassment, racism, homophobia and other common HR issues are any leader’s biggest nightmare, because on top of affecting the office climate they can have a serious financial and PR impact. Breeding a company culture of kind words, non-judgemental listening, and sharing is a sure-fire way to reduce these incidences. A company culture that values respect above bias, holds all employees in esteem and holds rude people accountable, sets a strong foundation on which to build inclusion and diversity, thus breaking down harmful stereotypes and the punishable behaviours associated with it.

   5. Kindness is contagious

We already know the power of a smile and how when someone smiles at us we share it with others. The same works for acts of kindness. When someone does even a small act of kindness we want to repay this kindness either to that person or to others. Random acts of kindness have a powerful impact on our happiness levels because it feels good to do good. Encouraging this company culture of small acts of kindness in the form of volunteering time, offering coffee or helping a colleague are a few small ways for you to start boosting kindness in your company and in turn grow the happiness levels of your team and the individuals which keep it going. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

   6. A kindness company culture reduces absenteeism

A recent study into the cost of absenteeism because of stress-related conditions amounts to over £6.5 billion a year. Stress is therefore the number one biggest cause of absenteeism and loss of productivity to companies worldwide. It would be completely absurd to ignore the impact of stress on your employees as it has a direct impact on your bottom line.

Kindness is a small but effective first step to reducing stress in the workplace. As already mentioned, when there is a kindness company culture people are more willing to help each other, to share information which can ease another’s stress, and build positive relationships which reduce social anxiety and stress related to belonging to a team. Kindness is therefore a highly cost-effective strategy to reduce stress levels and combat the multitude of related conditions which are rising as a result.

   7. Kindness boosts attention and productivity

Research shows that when we are stressed or unhappy our attention is compromised. A good example is to consider how being tired affects your concentration, problem-solving ability, mistake making and time taken to complete a task. The same is true for unhappiness; it drains our cognitive capacity and in turn our quality and quantity of work output. As previously mentioned, kindness boosts well-being and overall happiness within an organisation which has a direct effect on the ability of your staff to achieve amazing results in a shorter time.

Take Home Message

There is a quote by the Dalai Lama that seems poignant to share at this time.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Kindness is perhaps the most underrated practice that you can use to leverage the best from your employees and build a sustainable income. Kindness impacts each individual, the relationships they build and the customers they serve. It is therefore in the best interests of every company hoping to stay relevant and competitive to invest time in building a kindness company culture.

Please share this article with anybody you feel would benefit. Consider this your act of kindness for the day, as sometimes even the kindest people you know need to have their passion reignited.