Poor mental health is likely to affect one in five Australian employees, that is 20 percent of your workforce. A Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2014 report on the impact of employees’ mental health on productivity, participation and compensation claims, found these conditions cost Australian organisations, big and small, at least $10.9 billion a year.
The issue stems from the lack of trust within (Australian) organisations and this is an issue senior management are reluctant to tackle. The lack of trust is accentuated with employees’ reluctance to discuss this with their managers for fear of repercussions. In the article ‘Depression: does your boss really need to know? ‘, the CEO of beyondblue echoes the sentiment that sometimes it is better not to tell your manager or work colleagues that you are experiencing a mental illness. And it appears the higher up the leadership ladder you are the greater the risk you run should you disclose a mental illness.
Without the will and desire of senior management to genuinely want to help and support all employees, organisations will flounder when seeking workforce stability. Therefore investing in mental health at work makes sense.
Today is R U Ok day in Australia. It is a day that we dedicate to remind people to ask family, friends and colleagues the question ‘Are you ok?’ in a meaningful way. Connecting regularly and meaningfully is one thing everyone can do to make a difference and even save lives. Connecting allows compassion and empathy, which encourages trust and in a workplace can be the difference between life and death. The Australian Bureau of Statistics states seven (7) people suicide EVERY day in Australia. That is an incredible number when you put that in the perspective of numbers of workplace accidents and road deaths.
I actively encourage you to be a leader within your work area and spread the message of ‘R U Ok’. Start by having open and non threatening conversations, and encouraging everyone to wear yellow or simply having a friendly chat. Be the leader and ask the meaningful questions, not just today but any day!
Across all my roles in leadership, I have found there are two distinctive types of staff members when it comes to feedback. There are those who see it as an opportunity for improvement and those who see it as a personal attack. This can be said for receiving and providing feedback. I am sure we have all experienced a manager that has used a performance appraisal for either good or evil!
Receiving feedback well can be a challenge. If I think back to myself early on in my work journey, I now realise I was quite poor at accepting feedback. I would become defensive and try to counter comment all the time. However, as I came to understand myself better and develop my emotional intelligence (EQ) I realised there will always be room for improvement. Basically there are two clear options, you can fight people who give you feedback, or listen carefully, thank them and then decide what to do with it. Accepting and reacting to feedback are very different and your level of EQ will reflect in your reaction. Because you accept it, does not mean you necessarily agree. However, the key action you should do is take the time to consider if it is in line with your values and goals. Why? If it is not congruent to them, it is vital to remember it is only someone’s opinion based on your actions or non actions overlaid against their perceptions.
Giving feedback is no different to receiving it. As we know, both can create angst. Before you start, consider asking questions with the intention of understanding another persons situation or thinking. Unless we understand why someone is doing something a particular way, any feedback we give will be irrelevant at best. We also need to focus on the EQ aspect and keep in mind that what we want is different from what other people want. Therefore never assume that your path is the right path for all. Whenever possible, share your own experience and lessons learned instead of simply telling someone what to do. Finally, focus on how you see the future outcomes should achieved be not how good, bad or indifferently they were done before.
Remember feedback is a two way street, and should be treated as an open and frank conversation between two adults, not an exercise in finger pointing or blame.
In June, Engaging Leaders will be running one day workshops across Australia focussed on developing skills for the conversation revolution to create greater commitment, real accountability for results, and improved organisational performance.
Enjoy your week, Peter Russo
Staff engagement is a broad topic and a major problem. It is stated each year there are over 39 million searches on the keywords “employee engagement.” With such a level of interest there must be a fundamental reason why. The Gallup Management Journal (2012) claiming less than 50% of staff are engaged. Essentially, they claim staff have generally ‘checked out, sleepwalking through their workday, putting time but not passion into their work’.
One of the contributors to staff disengagement is when it is clear that the boss has noticed an aspect of their performance worth noting, however fails to mention it to them until the Performance Appraisal/Review time. Research indicates staff are more motivated to improve their job performance when the feedback source is perceived to be credible, and delivered in a considerate and timely manner. The routine/mandated six or twelve monthly performance appraisal escalates the stress levels for all involved. The staff feel oppressed, the reviewers feel burdened and the organisational guidelines are overly prescriptive, lacking flexibility and poorly communicated. This process is not perceived as useful and results in negative reactions and is generally not associated with a recipient’s willingness to change his or her behaviour.
How many of us have experienced reviewers simply cutting and pasting what was on last year’s performance appraisal into this year’s, with minimal if any changes. Or worse; no thought to how the report was completed the previous year and what was needed to improve?
The current performance appraisal system is not working and the time for change is now. The revolution is overdue! Performance appraisals, reviews and feedback need to change. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends (2015) denotes that over 80% of performance feedback and development is less than adequate. Survey Analytics have found that 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy positively impacts business success, but only 25% have a strategy to change. With so many statistics supporting a change why haven’t organisations focussed on doing it? Is it a case of an organisation running a 21st-century business with 20th-century workplace practices and programs?
Evidence supports most staff want tangible feedback to help them improve. Removing forced rankings and shifting from evaluation to development is a starting point for this change. To continue the revolution and gain synergy is the need is to encourage open conversations and remove the stress associated with performance appraisals. The answer lies with providing professional development, methodologies and practice.
In June, Engaging Leaders will be running one day workshops across Australia focussed on developing skills for the conversation revolution to create greater commitment, real accountability for results, and improved organisational performance. Further details on our website.
Enjoy your week, Peter Russo
An organisation is like a diamond; both are multifaceted and their characteristics determine their value. In my opinion, the qualities which make a diamond analogous to an organisation are durability, robustness and enduring value. This can be summarised as sustainability. Without it (sustainability) an organisation will not last, and to quote Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”.
From an organisational perspective, sustainability is generally focussed on incorporating social, moral and environmental factors into business decisions. However, the one aspect not openly discussed is operational sustainability. This considers the management, the leadership, the people, the culture, the systems and the work environment. It is the ‘what’ that keeps your organisation growing and ticking. Sustainability is being able to endure and survive through a constantly changing, and at times unfamiliar, environment.
When was the last time your organisational contingency plans where dusted off and rehearsed? Are they only focussed around the system failure? What would happen if parts of the key leadership team were not there?
I have found many organisations do not focus on effective succession planning. Many will wait until the incumbent CEO, Executive Manager or key staff member leave before considering the void that is left. This is ignoring a clear single point of failure, the individual. There is a philosophy that no one is irreplaceable, however the short term durability and robustness of your organisation relies on the capabilities that are exhibited by your staff. The expectation of your stakeholders is for enduring value to be maintained – and this rings no more true in instances where an individual holds fundamental relationships and is the key success factor in producing outcomes through a particular stakeholder.
Look around your organisation and consider what key staff and cultural behaviours will directly impact capability if they were not there tomorrow.
One clear way to develop a natural path for the human and cultural contingency is through fostering an ethos of mentoring and coaching. An organisation that thrives on sharing, willing to give investment to creating clarity in roles and complete organisational understanding will survive in adversity.
Just like the diamond, your organisation will be of more value when well cut and smooth (planned and considered), not rough and straight from the earth.