Thursday, June 26, 2014

More on Work and Resilience

Developing the attitude of resilience in the workplace.

 In the last two blogs, we discussed ways of making the work environment a more positive place to be. We pointed out the importance of resilience skills and being able to connect with others, communicate effectively, take a flexible approach toward problems, evaluate the value and purpose of your work and deal with the strong feelings that work may bring up. In this blog, I want to talk about more things that you can do to try to get involved in your organization in a positive way. Pro-action is usually a better way to go than simply reacting. When we are proactive, we usually feel we have more control than if we are reactive and we usually do. Feeling that we have some control over our lives and that we are not helpless in the face of change will usually mean that we are less likely to feel depressed and unhappy. We also need to take care of ourselves. This can mean in many organizations taking advantage of the resources that are offered through Wellness programs. Unfortunately, a relatively small number of employees do this, approximately a third. Check out what your organization has to offer. It may include gym memberships, seminars on weight management and exercise, or programs that help you manage your finances. Financial issues are a major stressor for most Americans. Take advantage of what is available. Taking care of others is, in general, a way of taking care of ourselves. The process tends to build our own resilience. Getting involved in volunteer efforts and campaigns is a great idea. This is another way of adding meaning and purpose to your life. Work is an important part of our lives, but it should not be our lives. Work-life balance means that we have a life outside of work. Employers should recognize this, and work-life balance should not just be a phrase that they put in a brochure or a manual describing the company. As the old saying goes, “In ten years no one is going to remember that you worked that Saturday.” But your son or your daughter may remember that day as the day that they scored the winning run that you missed or that they did their first dance recital. And most of all, don’t forget about humor. Hopefully, you have a sense of humor. Take time to step back from work. To laugh at yourself and at the absurd things that sometimes happen at work. As the old saying goes, “Don’t take work too seriously. It’s just a job.” So to sum it all up, your values and your organization’s values should complement each other. Take care of yourself, emotionally, physically and financially. Get involved in a proactive way with your organization. Manage the strong feelings that come up at work. Don’t ignore them or deny them. Take care of others and keep your sense of humor. Making your organization a psychologically healthy and positive place to work is the responsibility of both the organization and the employee...YOU. -Dr. Ron Breazeale

Work and Resilience

The purpose and value of work.

 In the last post, I pointed out how connecting with others at work, being an effective communicator and being able to assert oneself at the right times at work could make the environment less stressful. I also discussed the importance of flexibility and being able to try in a different way to solve problems. In the work environment of the 21st Century, change is inevitable. But most changes are temporary, not permanent. And they seldom have a pervasive effect, positive or negative, on our lives. Blaming ourselves or others for the problems created by change does not help. I also discussed a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence. The survey, among other things, pointed out that many employees felt stuck in their present positions. Only 39% said they had sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement and just over half reported feeling valued at work. Only 43% of the employees surveyed said that recognition at work was based on fair and useful performance evaluations. As I discussed in the last blog, the skills and attitudes of resilience can help change these statistics. Your work should have value and purpose. The purpose is hopefully more than just surviving and drawing a paycheck. The work should be meaningful to you. You should feel like what you are doing is important and makes a difference. Making the decision about whether or not your work is meaningful and purposeful involves taking a look at your own values and what is important to you. Your values and the values of the people that you work with and the organizations that you work for should match. If there’s not a match or a fit, the dissonance between the two will cause a level of tension and stress that will wear on us and our organization as time passes. Our mission and the mission of the organization should complement each other. If they do not, then we should be looking for a job that is a better fit. Situations at work inevitably bring up strong feelings. Work should. We should feel some passion for the work that we do, and we should feel frustrated when we cannot express it. The latter is often a problem. We should try not to let frustration and anger build up inside. Anger can be a toxic emotion. We need to find ways to manage our anger that help to change things at work in a positive way. But first of all, we have to recognize the feelings that we have and we need to find ways to be able to discharge them so we can think more clearly about work and how to negotiate the problems that are there. In the next blog, I will talk more about things you can do on your job to make your work environment a more positive one for you and for your co-workers. -Dr. Ron Breazeale