Variety is the spice of life.

Monotony – Bad : Variety – Good

In the daily grind, it is very important to try to stay away from the daily grind.  It doesn’t matter what we do for a job, we will always have those niggling little duties that are tedious but just have to be done.

There are 2 fast ways to cause stress in an employee.   The first is the most commonly understood and recognised, overworked and undervalued.  Asking someone to do more work than they are capable of coping with.  They end up bogged down with their to-do list getting long er and longer with no end in sight.  This is de-motivating and further reduces productivity.  You are looking at someone who is very likely to burn out in a short space of time.

The less recognised cause of stress is the lack of variety.  This is impacts on the creative personality the most.   In many ways this can be more detrimental than over working.  First of all the mind starts to wander, when that happens mistakes start to be made.  Self doubt and stress develop.

Make sure that your staff stay engaged, break up the monotony of the day-to-day with other tasks and challenges that they can get their teeth into.  If there is nothing in their working role that allows that to happen consider a rotational pattern to allow people variety, or allow challenges in other ways.

A challenged and engaged employee tends to be more successful, less prone to making mistakes, and more likely to engage with new ideas when they come along.  A failure to engage and support staff is a slippery slope to malcontent.  Once you have a disgruntled member of staff, it becomes more and more difficult to bring them back.

People have different levels of tolerance for stress and boredom, so there is not yardstick measure of what is right.  Each person should be treated as the individual they are.  Regular contact with the troops is the best way to notice those changes in mood.  This is where larger companies are sometimes sadly lacking.

Listening to the staff is only half the battle and many of the people in this situation may have already reached the point of “What is the point of complaining? Nothing ever changes!”  Sadly, this is very often the case.  Many companies call themselves “Investors in People” and have a nice plaque in their offices to prove it.  In most cases this means that they have training and development programmes in place.  That is not really investing in people, that is just making sure your staff have the skills to do the job.  Once again they miss out that important factor of Emotional Salary.  Remembering that their staff are people and individuals, and not just pieces of equipment.  Companies even avoid calling the staff their people, using instead the term FTE (Full Time Employee).  A personal dislike of mine.  That is distancing language, it is dehumanising the individual into a 35 hour a week piece of equipment.

Everyone has a different set of skills and traits that make them what they are, this should be taken into consideration when you are recruiting and when you are developing staff.  We are still very much in the mind of employing people for a role.  This is fine in its own way, as long as you are clear what the role is and its responsibilities, but how much more amazing would it be to find someone with skills and think “how can I use them?” Now that would be recruitment way ahead of the crowd.

Look at the people you have already, you may have lurking in your teams a new Sales person, a team manager or an analyst.   Don’t get bogged down on if they have experience, aptitude and skill sets can be developed; attitude needs to be nurtured.

No one employs unmotivated negative individuals, they are created by who they work for.

 

Advertisements

Infectious Emotions

As I have mentioned in a previous post, we are an empathic race.  We react to the emotions of people around us and mirror those emotions ourselves.  This is something that must be considered when you are in a working environment.  They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but more accurately contempt breeds contempt.

When building a team of people you have to consider a number of factors.  Firstly, you have to look at the skill sets that you are putting together to make sure there are no holes in the talent pool that you have.  But a lot of people when building a team don’t  seem to spend a lot of time looking at the emotional make up of the people they are putting together.  Ever since the early 90s a lot of stock has been put into psychometric testing.  Personally, I not only think these tests are flawed but can be manipulated and wildly inaccurate.  The same can be said in a way for assessment tests.

Scientists will often say that lab experiments have a built-in flaw.  But putting things into controlled settings you are removing an element of chance or chaos.  The unexpected.  I would say the same of the assessments that some staff are put through as part of the interview process.  You have been made aware that an assessment is part of the process.  You have had an opportunity to prepare, there is nothing really unexpected about it.

Psychometrics will tell you a little about someone’s character as long as they don’t know how to fool the tests, and assessments will give you an idea of someone’s reasoning abilities, but what about when things suddenly change?

Sudden onset of a stressful situation can change the dynamic and really turn the tables on the team.  Someone who tests well could become a complete liability.  Logical thinkers can not always take that leap of faith and think on the ball and come up with an inspirational solution.   Logical thinkers test well because there is a process to follow from start to finish.  Activists, or kinetic thinkers,  get bored by the hum-drum.  When situations are controlled and planned, they can get bored and can become easily distracted, looking for the next challenge.  These are the people who don’t tend to test well, but when you put them on the spot in a tense situation they shine.

What does this have to do with infection emotions?  If you get someone inclined to panic, you could end up in a situation.  Panic is a strong emotional response and falls under the Fear family of emotions.  In many cases it can overwhelm the calm.  Fear is demonstrated on our faces to warn people that something is happening they need to be aware of.  The signal needs to be passed on so that the whole community can be aware of the risk.

A good team should have elements of both logical and kinetic thinkers and the responsibilities of each team member should match their skills.

We are very set in our ways when it comes to recruitment.  There are ways that things are done, because that is the way they have always been done.  Almost like sheep everyone does the same thing without looking at different ways of doing things.

I am a firm believer that attitude is far more important than any already pre-existing skills in a new recruit.  Passion and attitude is far more difficult to create.  Aptitude and skills can be trained and learned.

So if someone doesn’t hit your target score on your assessment for working out percentages and synonyms.  If they have passion, drive, enthusiasm and an over all belief in your company and what it stands for; give them a chance, a job and buy them a calculator and a dictionary.  If someone truly believes in the company they are working for, they will work to overcome the issues of skill themselves.

The way that our financial climate is at the moment I believe that some companies need to look at the way they recruit.  There is a huge pool of untapped talent out there that is getting overlooked because they failed to score well on a test.

 

The Fear

Fear is one of the base seven emotions and as such is shared and demonstrated in the same way by practically every person on the planet.  I say practically as there are some rare medical conditions that result in a person being completely fearless.  I will discuss this at a later point.

Fear is an essential part of our emotional make up.  It is there to engage us into action when something threatens our well-being as a form of self preservation and to warn others there is something that could be considered a threat.  Surely this is a good thing?  But fear is associated with the Flight, Fight or Freeze response and can have consequences of its own.  Not to mention the issues that can be raised by prolonged exposure to fearful situations, the most common of which is stress.

Stress itself is not an emotion in its own right, rather it is an emotional state that can have a number of emotions associated to it.  Lots of people cite that stress is bad.  This is not strictly true.  Some stress can be quite positive, driving us forward, and given motivation to our actions.  Extended stress without respite however, this can be problematic.

Imagine someone applying for a job.  It is the sort of job that they always wanted, they would really enjoy doing it.  It is for a company they would fight tooth and nail to get in to.  Stress has already begun.   As the date for interview gets closer the stress increases.  Is this fear?  Not really.  If we look at the idea of an emotion they are usually of rapid onset and of short duration.  Perhaps what is being felt in the build up to interview is better described as apprehension.  An emotional state that falls under the fear family.

Fear is about self-preservation.  It’s origins are in the Limbic system of the brain, responsible for the hard coded emotional responses.  This part of the brain can start a physical reaction before the cognitive side of our brain, the Neo-Cortex even gets involved.  There is no reason to fear, it is an automatic reaction to a perceived threat: surging adrenaline, increasing heart and respiration rate sending blood rushing to the limbs ready to fight or flee from danger.

Notice also that I say “perceived threat”.  There doesn’t actually have to be a threat only something that appears to be a threat.  Mistaking a shadow in a darkened house for a prowler is a perceived threat, once the cognitive part of our brain gets involved and re-assesses the situation it may then be confirmed as no longer a threat.

Stress can be a very damaging situation if it is not handled correctly.  There are situations where we have no control over the stress we may receive.  This is possibly the worse kind of stress.  Lack of control or the ability to change the situation can increase the stress this causes the stress to escalate.

Eventually stress reaches the breaking point.  The body and mind can’t take any more.  Once this point has been reached it is very difficult to turn around.  Thinking about the situation can bring on panic attacks.  Essentially, the body goes into a full fear response.  The body is reacting to a perceived threat of more stress than it can handle, that is contrary to its well-being.

Once an emotional script has been written it is very difficult, sometimes impossible to change that script and an alternative has to be created by the use of supportive therapy.

Understanding the reasons for fear can give us an insight into the reactions that some people have.  Fear can be one of the most difficult emotions to handle and control because of its very nature as a preserver of life.