Posts Tagged work
I recently attended an annual dinner/forum for a local non-profit group which focused on Drug Abuse Prevention. We’ve all heard, or experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of drug abuse on family, employment, education, and just about every other facet of human life. What we don’t always hear about are the amazing efforts by some making an incredible impact on prevention. By taking small steps to identify risk factors, especially for our youth, we can have a tremendous impact. At the forum, one of the panelists made a great point about how parents and doctors don’t ask the difficult questions, and often times because they are afraid of the answer, or maybe they are suffering themselves. Why do our doctors have no problem asking us about our diets and suggesting cholesterol screenings, but very seldom ask us a simple question like, “How are you feeling emotionally?” or, “Does your child seem to be fitting in, and participating in a healthy way?” When we look at diabetes and heart disease compared to major depression or substance abuse disorders only a small fraction of those suffering from behavioral disorders are actually being diagnosed and treated compared with their medical counterparts.
As the prescription drug epidemic continues to rise we need to do more in the area of prevention. Here are some wonderful resources for prescription drug abuse prevention from our friends at Peer Assistance Services:
Manager, Business Development
In over 35 years of working with people on making change, improving their performance, and living more fully it is still interesting to me how many people persist in doing the same self-defeating actions over and over despite saying they want to improve, grow, or change for the better (whatever that means). So the following are four questions worth asking yourself if you want to improve your performance in some area of your life.
- Situation Questions – Tell me about your life? How is it working now?
- Problem Questions – Can we be specific about what is not working? Are you concerned about your current quality of performance?
- Implication Questions – What happens if you don’t do something different?
- Need-Payoff Questions – If you act and it improves – how does that impact your life?
Take time to reflect on these questions, write down your answers, and be curious about where this may take you. If you find yourself resisting the questions or process, look more deeply into that instead.
It’s up to you….as they say “no one can do your push-ups for you.”
Exchange love and happiness with everyone you meet today.
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).
How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.
What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.
Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
I ran across some interesting information on the role of niacin, depression, and alcoholism in performance at www.doctoryourself.com. It is well documented that depression and/or alcoholism may negatively affect performance across just about any domain one can perform in. In the treatment of depression and alcoholism there are very effective cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy interventions. In addition, exercise and medication may add additional therapeutic effects. The role of nutrition may have further potentiating influence.
According to this site, Bill W., the founder of AA, was successfully treated for depression with 3,000 mg of niacin a day. Unfortunately, this information has not been widely discussed or published in the media. I would be interested to hear from any of you who have used niacin as a means of treating depression or alcoholism and what your results were. Please let us at MINES know.
Have a day filled with mindfulness,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
When an organization moves from a “Go-Go” phase to the next level, “Adolescence” (Adizes, 1999), the founder is faced with new organizational challenges. In the Go-Go phase the organization was making money, had few administrative departments, had few polices or formalized strategies in place, and had little management structure with defined accountabilities and authority. During the transition it is not uncommon for the founder to disengage then re-engage and disrupt the transition plan and team. This may be due to a number of factors from a need to be in control, disagreement with the policies and procedures being put in place, and regression, to the “that is not how we got where we are” syndrome, anxiety, distrust, and a sense of uncertainty about the future.
The impact on organizational performance and individual performance can be significant. First, the organization will be less profitable as it moves into adolescence almost by definition. The reason is that administrative staff such as HR, mid-level management, and other support staff are being added to move to the next level, and therefore, profitability percentages will drop. Second, the organization may drop in other areas of performance such as customer service and responsiveness because this value and behavior now needs to be systemized and made scalable where before it used to reside in individual staff and in the group norms as a smaller organization. Productivity definitions may change during this transition. When the organization was smaller, productivity could be measured by a few variables rather than a multivariate approach. As the organization gets larger, a multivariate model may emerge.
Individual performance can also be negatively impacted during this transition. Staff who had the skills to perform successfully in a smaller organization may not have the skills to perform in the larger organization. Changing them out or redefining their roles may result in stress for all involved as they were valued employees and now they may not be perceived that way by the new management. New employees may start under-performing as well because they came in full of hope and high expectations and then experience an organization that is giving mixed messages. The psychological impact of this is that these employees may start to be discouraged; feel helpless, angry, anxious, or depressed; lose focus; or engage in counterproductive communication and behavior, among many other negative psychological states.
As your organization goes through transitions like this, it will be helpful to keep these elements in mind when you encounter performance problems. Having a testable hypothesis is the first step to managing the changes.
Have a day filled with equanimity,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
Adizes, Ichak. (1999). Managing Corporate Lifecycles. Santa Barbara, CA: Adizes Institute.
When a person starts a new job they expect to be provided the resources, information, and tools to perform the functions of the job. This expectation applies no matter what level they are hired for in the organization. In turn, the organization expects that person to bring all the knowledge, skill, and potential for which they were hired to contribute to the organization’s success. An initial partnership is formed. Is this basic expectation set sufficient for ongoing success of the individual and the organization? In very few cases it might be. However, in most jobs, the organization hopes for and expects growth in that individual, whether it is in increased proficiency, expanded roles, or leadership and promotion. Stagnation is a huge risk for the individual as well as the organization. So, how do we promote appropriate growth for individuals working in organizations?
Could we consider that focusing on educational excellence in the workplace may be necessary beyond the “on-the-job training” that generally and naturally occurs? Educational excellence means focusing on strategies that are effective for employees and the organization. As was quoted in an email from our CEO this week, “No one can do your pushups for you, only you can decide to learn and use the information.” So education in organizations is a combination of employer and employee responsibility. The employee must be self-motivated to learn and grow, and the organization can focus on using approaches, strategies, and educational opportunities that best promote useful expansion and growth.
The great organizational theorist Peter Sengee captured the term “the learning organization.” In his book, The Fifth Discipline, Sengee proposes “the basic meaning of a ‘learning organization’ is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization it is not enough merely to survive. ‘Survival learning’ or what is often termed ‘adaptive learning’ is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, ‘adaptive learning’ must be joined by ‘generative learning,’ learning that enhances our capacity to create.” In his work Sengee speaks of the whole organization as a “learning organization.” In this system, individuals collectively make up this generative learning process.
Organizations promote educational excellence in a variety of ways:
- TQM or the total quality management movement has focused on efficiency improvement. This can affect all levels in an organization to inspire a focus on creating better processes to create better results. Educational opportunity such as “six sigma” and “lean six sigma” have focused high-level education primarily on upper level managers to create greater efficiency.
- In our EAP services through MINES and Associates, most of our client companies contract for a certain number of training hours. These contracted hours can be used for “lunch and learn” presentations offered to a wide range of employees on various topics such as communication, time management, financial issues, nutrition, or even humor and creativity in the workplace. Companies may choose to target these educational hours towards managers growing their management skills or to specialized departments on their interests or skill development needs.
- In our work in BizPsych we may determine from an organizational assessment that a work group needs specific skill building such as conflict management skills or alignment skills.
- Many organizations offer tuition assistance for employees to promote their own education, either related specifically to their jobs or to help them grow and develop in the directions of their choosing.
In any of these cases, if we consider it to be an organization’s essential responsibility to focus on providing educational opportunities for employees to grow in their work, it is important to focus on strategies that are most effective. Thus, many larger employers create “Learning and Development” teams and specialists dedicated to this pursuit. Strategies that are effective would define educational excellence in organizations. We may then move closer to Sengee’s ideals of creating learning organizations who build the capacity to “create their futures.”
Patrick Hiester, MA, LPC
Vice President, BizPsych
I had the opportunity to observe an organization as its leader became seriously ill, recovered, then got ill again (different problem, serious again). While this was going on the organization was at a standstill on the strategic and executive level. Operationally, it still delivered what it was supposed to. But in the meantime, the board kept waiting for the CEO to get well. Strategic marketing initiatives were put on hold, revenue was diminishing, cash reserves were being used at an unprecedented rate, and the organization was eventually on the brink of extinction. This organization had been in existence for over 40 years. The board was long-standing. Staff had been with the organization for extended periods exceeding 8 plus years. So how did it get to this point? What were the psychological factors that could account for this? Could something have been done sooner?
Wait until so and so gets better. We will get back on track then…. (This did not happen).
Diffusion of responsibility. Staff did not have the authority or accountability, and as the Board of Directors was volunteers, they had no day-to-day authority. Everyone kept waiting for someone else to do something. Finally the President of the Board did step in.
Misinformation to the Board. The Board received information that key reports were completed and that action was being taken. This information was incorrect. Nothing had been done and the board had not done “truth through verification.”
Negative momentum in the community. The community resources were being compromised by rumors that the organization was going out of business which then created more momentum for it to go out of business. Damage control was started months after it could have been.
Not my problem. Ultimately, many individuals said, “It’s not my problem.” They quit the Board to allegedly avoid liability, did not roll their shirt sleeves up to help raise revenue, and became indifferent or apathetic.
Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. Hindsight is always 20/20. What is useful about this case study is for all of us to start pressing earlier for the plan B, C, or D when a leader becomes ill. It is important to have sufficient bench strength for staff to step up when a leader is ill, even if they are coming back. How does your staff and organization measure up?
Have a day filled with kindness,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
“My son has a fever and needs to stay home and rest.”
“I just had surgery and can’t sit for long periods of time.”
“It doesn’t make sense for me to work and pay for infant daycare!”
Do any of these issues come up in your company? If you think that they are stressful for the organization, just imagine the burden on your employees. One option that is grasping more and more attention is allowing employees to telework if they as employees, and their positions, permit it (Heathfield, 2011).
So, how would an organization determine whether or not a position is a strong fit for telecommuting? There’s no simple answer but here are some variables to consider (Heathfield, 2011):
- The position must be able to be completed outside of the office building. There are some new and creative ways to make this possible, even for those positions that seemingly need to be completed in the office. One such position is a call center employee — many companies are offering their employees remote access and soft phones on their computers.
- The employees should be able to work independently inside of the company in order to be considered for telecommuting.
- The employee and the manager should both be comfortable with electronic communication, i.e. e-mail.
- The employee should not be wearing the “home” hat and the “work” hat during their working hours. The employee should have uninterrupted work time at home.
- The employee must be trustworthy.
Daniél C. Kimlinger, MHA, PHR
Human Resources Specialist
Heathfield, S. (n.d.). Life and Family Challenges With Flexible Work Schedules? In About Human Resources. Retrieved June 21, 2011, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/workschedules/f/life_family.htm