According to the Centre for disease control and prevention over 40% of US citizens reported mental health challenges in June 2020(1). Here in the UK evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days are related to mental health conditions, with improvements we could save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. (2) (3)
When you consider how mental health and well being can impact on productivity, creativity and business it becomes essential for you and your team that you understand what you can do to help everyone to feel emotionally strong and confident in these tough times so your organisation can thrive no matter what.
Would it surprise you to know that my clients have reported the very opposite in the pandemic.
One company recently advised me that they experienced zero absenteeism in lock down – 3 months, 224 members of staff and not one sick day!
Another said they were really impressed how everyone “naturally adapted” and were working better together as a team despite not being able to see each other.
Another said they had hit all their targets.
And a few more have taken the time to let me know they were surprised to have their best quarter trading ever.
This is not by magic, or accident, or by being in the right industry for a pandemic, this is because through the coaching process with me, everyone that I work with has learnt how to honour who they are and how they want to work and develop feeling part of the end result that is aimed for.
Here is a quick guide on how to coach yourself or your team to achieve and protect your mental health.
1. Create a mental health tool kit – this article will guide you how and if someone says yours will look the same as someone elses, they are wrong – there may be many elements that overlap but no one on this planet has lived your life and that is why it needs to be unique to you. One of the key things my clients learn is that one size doesn’t fit all. You are unique so your solutions are unique too. In 16 years of coaching I’ve seen the same problem many times, but never have I seen 2 clients create the same solutions and action plan.
2. Structure may be a golden ticket to a healthy resilient mind, on the other hand it may be the rod that breaks your back. Ask yourself this “If I was to get a free pandemic safe holiday to my dream destination and I had to leave in 4 hours time, how would I feel?”
This question gives you a good idea on your natural style. My clients learn not to fight who they are. So if you answered this question with “Woo hoo, let’s go!” You probably don’t need a lot of structure in your life because you can adapt fast and find the positive in a situation. (The down side of this is you can be easily distracted and that can be bad for productivity, solutions and results.)
If on the other hand you found yourself hyperventilating and stressed out thinking “What about the cat, the dentist on Tuesday or the milk in the fridge” you are probably someone that likes structure, you like to know what is happening when and if it doesn’t the control freak in you (there is nothing wrong with being a control freak as long as you control it and it doesn’t control you) is getting seriously upset.
Don’t fight who you are. If you need structure create it. And as you will see with the next top tip, whatever is your natural style to getting work done make sure you tell people.
3. Communicate it. If you need it nice and quiet then tell the family if you are still working from home. If you are struggling then talk to someone. You are not a robot that can have a new bit of programming shoved in and instantly produce high quality work as usual. If you need help to adjust tell someone. I’ve had a lot of new clients in lock down who are really struggling with working form home. It hasn’t taken many sessions to help them to be more resilient, create a great work life balance and actually achieve more. They talked to their boss and their boss being the forward thinking find solutions type of person they are didn’t tell them to “toughen up” they helped them find their natural style and honour it.
It’s interesting that it doesn’t matter what your industry or profession, I can still coach you to achieve more. Coaching is helping the individual find the solutions to the issues they feel they face. Even if that is worded completely differently to what the company needs we always bring the two into alignment so the company, the team and the individual all perform better. Because ultimately it is about what is going on in each persons head that matters. So don’t assume people know what you are thinking. Ask for help, define the new way of working and communicate it.
Likewise if you are the leader of a team, just because you meet with everyone once a week don’t assume they are happy, performing to optimum levels or not suffering mentally. It is only in non judgemental confidential conversations people are really honest. I’ve seen so many clients in the last 6 months who have put on a great act, met targets and done okay, but after coaching everyone at work has seen a dramatic improvement in the individual and their results.
People have a habit of suppressing how they are feeling or what they are dealing with. How many times has someone said to you something after the event and you’ve said “Wow, I had no idea.” Trust me, it’s happening closer to home than you realise.
4. Please ditch the guilt. People think they are impressing me when they tell me they started at 6am and worked until 10pm and still managed to keep the house clean, teach the children algebra and bake a cake. You aren’t impressing anyone. Burn out happens to people that are living their live like everyone is judging them. Even if they are judging you that’s their issue, not yours.
Don’t aim for super human, aim for happy human.
If you enjoy baking and teaching your kids then great, but if you don’t no one is going to beat you up for putting a Disney film on a giving them a hug for a couple of hours. Its essential you meet deadlines but don’t try and do everything. You are allowed to say to your children/dog/partner “I’m sorry I need to work for 2 hours, we could do something at 2pm.
Guilt will eat you up, take brain space and stop you from being productive an happy. So ditch the matyr act and the guilt.
4. Environment. When you go to work you dress in a certain way, have a route to work, a routine. Even if you don’t crave routine you still need to create the work mindset. What helps you get into a working mindset? This article especially top tip 13 will help you consider how to achieve the perfect environment. http://www.mandieholgate.co.uk/corona-virus-and-working-from-home-how-to-stay-motivated-productive-and-achieve-more/ This is essential for the tough days so that even if you aren’t feeling it, your brain is getting signals to get into the working mindset – yes you can programme your brain, it just takes a bit longer than a robot and what works for one human won’t work for all, so you are clearly not a robot, so don’t try to act like one.
5.Boundaries. Leading on from guilt, its not a crime to get specific on what you need. I like it quiet when I work, so if I can’t have that I put the noise cancelling headphones in and the instrumental/classical music on. Sometimes just wearing them is a signal to my family to leave me alone. That’s not me being mean, that’s me putting myself on the importance list too. Not instead of them, as well as them. What boundaries do you need to put into place to protect your mind so you can perform well at work?
6. Be nice to you. Looking after everyone else and not you is also a fast track to an unhealthy mind. Take a break. Studies show we struggle to think and work productively in anything over an hour session. (Find out your optimum concentration time. Mine is approximately 25 minutes. So I know to do something, do something else and then return to the task in hand. So I will start this article, then answer an in depth email in depth, make a call and then return to the blog article. Everything is achieved but in a way that honours me. And it means I’ve time to play hide and seek with the dog and get some exercise too!
What would your perfect working day look like if you include you time? One client realised they were saving 10 hours a week from the weekly commute and using all of them for work! We split that 50 / 50 and they now have 5 hours a week to read, paint and bake cakes. Guess what? Productivity has gone up using less time!
7. Team time. How are you going to ensure the team is always on the same page? How are you going to ensure you are always on the same page as your customers and suppliers?
Don’t dismiss the importance of the water cooler moment. Those moments of free talk with no agenda are critical for many reasons. And many people are really missing the random conversations that lead to great ideas and innovation. One company I’m working with now take it in turns to meet up for a coffee and a walk once a week. In this way the team are more aware of how each other are feeling, what people are working on, struggling with or need advice on. How will you ensure you have productive team time? Not where you project what the company needs but understand each others needs? It is documented that when an individual feels part of the end goal they are 92% more likely to achieve for you even without a financial reward. If they don’t feel connected to the outcome that can drop to 0%! Which leads us on to…
9. Clear goals and focus. You may assume everyone knows what the organisational goals are and when and how they are to be achieved, but without input from all parties you risk not hitting the mark. A coaching day is a great way of hearing what everyone really thinks about your great idea, plan or goals for the future.
I’ve seen many a CEO or Bosses shocked face when they’ve been coached along with their team as they hear what people really think. One company had just invested in a new marketing campaign and brand worth over £10,000 but hadn’t engaged all departments, In our first coaching day one member of staff (who rarely spoke up) said “Where does it say care? We care right?” They were in the health and wellness industry and hadn’t mentioned the key elements of what they felt they stood for. That day led to a new mission statement, a new tagline and a far more powerful marketing strategy that the whole company helped create – imagine how powerful that is for their future goals and success?
The interesting thing is these companies often have training and meetings and brain storming sessions, trust me nothing is more unique than coaching with an external person to get to what is really stopping you, your team and your company from reaching new levels of success. It’s so powerful even I am blown away by the results. If you would like to know how coaching could help you and your team be more resilient, confident, capable, agile, creative and productive no matter what you face, get in touch. I love the phone ringing – 01206 381482 / 07989 935556
(2) ONS. (2014). Full Report: Sickness Absence on the Labour Market, February 2014. Retrieved from webarchive. nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_353899.pdf [Accessed 28/07/16].
(3) Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. (2009). Briefing 40: Removing Barriers. The facts about mental health and employment. Retrieved from ohrn.nhs.uk/resource/policy/TheFactsaboutMentalHealth.pdf
For sole traders, freelancers and micro businesses working from home is no new thing, however we are likely to see a massive increase in the need to work from home and while it sounds heavenly to wear what you like, stroke the dog and work the way you want to, it rarely works like that without putting a lot of strategies into place.
So, whether you manage a team (that you now need to lead remotely) work on your own or report to a boss how can you manage your time effectively, not get cabin fever and actually achieve more?
As a coach helping people with these issues is something that is naturally woven into the fibre of my time with my clients so let’s help you achieve more wherever you are working from.
Remember you can have the best business model, products & services, marketing strategy and company but without the practices around the human(s) within your organisation you are open to a lot of risk.
I mean it when I say I’m here for you. These are unprecedented times so look for the people that aren’t looking to make money out of you but genuinely care about you. And you can add me to that list. xx
This time of year our social media is awash with golden beaches, azure blue pools and half naked friends on holiday in locations around the world. While I adore sharing your moments and feeling your happiness I am a bit confused.
Why are you not actually on holiday? It’s a bit like business owners and employees who work in the business but don’t work on their business.
These holiday makers are in the holiday but they are not on the holiday.
Let’s start by looking at why you are probably shouting at me in scorn right now saying “You don’t get it, it’s not that easy to disappear for 2 weeks….” I really get it, honestly I do. I hear this from new clients all the time. If you care about your career/business you want to do all you can to look after it don’t you?
You don’t step fully away from business when you are on holiday because;
The list is long and I’m sure I’ve not covered all the excuses I hear as to why it’s good to keep your phone on this holiday, however would you like some evidence to shock you into considering truly walking away from the office, before we crack on how to achieve it and what kind of results you could get for your professional life with your phone turned off?
Great Mandie you’re guilt tripping me here and while I know this stuff, that doesn’t mean its’ achievable, business never sleeps right?
I get that, I really do, so between us we have a good idea why you don’t turn off completely and we also know why it’s imperative you do. What about if I shared how I get to go on holiday (and my clients do too), turn the phone off, get the holiday automated message on and have a guilt free fabulous holiday AND grow their business and gain new opportunities?
Would that help?
As an example I’ve just had 9 days away from my business (I’ve already had a 4 day break in the winter and 17 days in Disneyland in April and I’ve got more holidays booked for later in the year too – I tell you this so you can see this is not a one off, this is a lifestyle and business model that is sustainable long term.) And on every occasion the phone is off. I really am out of the office. I’m only back to work for 5 hours and already I’m aware of these great things that have automatically happened for me;
And I’ve not even finished opening all my email and social media messages yet!
How is that possible?
Here’s some ideas for you so you can enjoy that holiday 100% (guilt free.)
Plan months in advance. My retained coaching clients and BWN team already know when I’m on holiday to the end of the year and are already aware of my developing Summer 2020 plans. Whenever I see a client, a connection, lead or opportunity I finish by ensuring that they know when they will have whatever it is I’ve promised them and when I’m not able to assist further. (I also will include an emergency number, usually my husbands number, not mine, so that they know its for genuine emergencies only.) If you are doing your very best for people then this is adequate. See below for what that is.
Trust. I too used to check my phone on holiday. It takes only a few minutes to jump online and check there is nothing to be worrying about, right? However if you know anything about flow it takes us on average 15 minutes to get back into the flow of what we doing (Just as good to remember for at work too, so turn off your phone, turn off your laptop sounds so you can concentrate and get more done!) This means that when on holiday you are constantly being propelled back into work mode, work thoughts, and automatic pathways, Here’s some examples for you;
I completely understand how this feels, and the additional ideas below will help you create a better way. But for now trust is key. Trust you have done all you can for everyone you work with, trust that on your return you will do an awesome job as you always do. And remember that great bosses, teams, customers and suppliers will respect you and trust that you will do your best for them – and they will say things like they do to me “Mandie we know how much you care about our success, go and enjoy your holiday and we look forward to working with you on your return. You deserve it”. Working with the right people is good for business too – I only seem to attract driven passionate people who want to do their best for themselves and their teams and as such they care about me as their coach too – they pay on time, don’t get in touch late at night or at the weekend and really care that we have a win win relationship. If you find you are not convinced of this, ask yourself for what reason? That will help you create a plan of action to allay your fears and tackle theirs too.
Respect – If you want people to respect you and your life then you need to respect theirs too – don’t dump last minute jobs on people’s metaphorically desks. If you need something urgently then ask yourself “What is this persons preferred way of communicating?” Again this is also good for long term success too.
Fire fighting – Fire fighting is not a long term solution to professional success and if you are constantly doing this then leaders aren’t leading, staff aren’t self sufficient, and adequately trained, boundaries aren’t in place and a clear vision, mission, goals, plans, actions and expectations are not being created. Create these and everyone feels safer at work, every day. Getting rid of the fire fighter approach is not just good for stress free holidays it’s also good for sustainable business growth and happier, less stressed staff – and do you know what less stressed staff are great for? Creativity, productivity, better health, happier work environments and even higher profitability! A good reason to know your vision, mission, goals, plans, actions, expectations right?
Think of the children (and your trusted network!) If I am faced with a client that really can’t see a way to change from their current mode of thought and actions then I will quite often ask if they have children or people that they love working with (as we all do) and I will ask them this; “Would you want this for your son/daughter/colleague/boss/team?” This invariably gets a “of course not!” to which then they have to admit “OK so why is it good enough for you?” If you work 24/7 and you are never allowed a day off or a life away from work ever again, what does that say to those around you who you are a role model for? (And we are all role models for someone). I hear antiquated dangerous and not good for success comments like “You can only be successful if you work 24/.” Really? Guess how much harder success is going to be with that mindset? Is that really inspiring you and spurring you or killing off your passion? And think about how that may impact on those around you and their own beliefs, scary right?
Whether it’s fact or fiction that Archimedes came up with his great principle of buoyancy in the bath or not the fact is that he was a great thinker and didn’t just do his thinking at a desk. If you’ve ever found your mind wandering and then noticed and pulled yourself back to reality you will know how freeing it can feel. What were you thinking about? It doesn’t matter, because that down time enables your brain to keep working even when it feels like you aren’t! I remember a few years ago I was strolling along a beach in the South of France looking at shells and splashing in the waves and I suddenly had this thought “How can I help more people that don’t necessarily have the budget?” And I just left it and jumped in the sea. Only for me to emerge from the sea, legging it across the too hot sand back to my lounger thinking “How great would it be to have a confidential 24/7 mastermind group – we could create a bank of ideas and support that was accessible every day!” And behold The Insiders was born! Was that magic? Of course it’s not! I’d given my brain the space and permission to work on anything it fancied! True holiday’s can do that for you too.
Start of the new year. For me my year doesn’t run from January to December, they run September to July. It all started years ago when I read about the English Rugby team who’d been performing horrifically until they worked with a life coach. The premise was that at half time, they’d come back out in a clean kit. Because it made them feel like the start of the game and that anything was possible. This and other ideas they put together with their coach enabled them to become great again. I come back from holidays refreshed and buzzing with ideas. So August (I hadn’t missed it out accidentally!) Is my planning month. I review the previous 11 months and assess what I want to achieve by the end of the true year end (31st of December) and that then is a mini goal stage to my big goal for July. Creating your own agenda ensures you stay motivated, focused and accountable to your goals. And August is a joyous month for me as I concentrate on my own growth, happiness and success. So ask yourself when do you create the time to work on your business/professional success?
When did the holiday message not become an acceptable “I’m sorry I’m out of the office” reply? When did it become a success requirement that you would be attached to your professional life 24/7? Seriously I’m intrigued. I was working with a team of 55 people and many lamented that email were a hell of their working life. It didn’t take long to discover that everyone had different beliefs on what should be answered as a priority, what could be ignored (reference only) and what was expected of everyone. Putting our thoughts together collectively they were able to create a far more powerful strategy to email and free up a lot of time in their working day. If you have a message that says I’m out of the office today in the event of an emergency, etc,etc then abide by it too. In this way you are helping to reduce the stress for those that you work with too. We can’t have a change in professional culture without the brave.
Automate your marketing. I’m one for real conversations but if you consider the evidence for why you need time out, you can see that sometimes you need to automate and schedule. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The same principles can be used for when you are mega busy. It’s not just your marketing you can automate. Create standardised letters that you personalise for things that you find yourself repeating, separate emails into separate folders so you prioritise. There’s a ton of apps to help you get organised, find the ones that work for you and your time management improves too!
Don’t fear asking for help. I can be guilty of this. We feel like we have to be super human don’t we? Doing everything for everyone, well guess what? You don’t! And if you ask for help when you want to holiday guilt free others will help and then you know you are truly part of a team. All striving for the same goals. Get over your fear of asking for help (My book -Fight the fear looks at this) and you could find this a lot easier and life in general a little easier too.
From FOMO to JOMO – Fear Of Missing Out? Try Joy Of Missing Out! I love being connected to you and your lives and sharing in your special times, your tough days, trials and celebrations, however I also love not having a clue and then meeting up with you and hearing all about it. We are so used to knowing everything instantly we’ve forgotten the joy of being completely absorbed in our own worlds. And if you are a highly sensitive person (I am, it’s nothing to be ashamed of if you handle it well. It can actually be a blessing in business and life) then being connected all the time can be really damaging. Just like the news always being delivered is bad and drags us down, so too do other people’s struggles that we can’t fix. You have complete permission to disconnect. I think that is why I adore my caravan so much. To get into nature, away from people and disconnect makes me feel amazing. Try some JOMO and see how it feels. At first it may feel alien, but trust me it will feel good in the long term!
And lastly I was in a conference call today and of the 10 people in the call, I’m the only one that said “ I won’t be about between these dates. I’m away” Everyone else said things along the lines of “I’m away but I will be answering my emails.” Not one person was giving themselves a true break. And one even said “Wow, you’re brave!” I replied, “No, I’m organised”. It’s no good just going on holiday and hoping it will all be good when you return. It’s all in the planning, communication, boundaries and goals that you guessed it I started planning last September! So if you are going away on Monday, you may find that you need to do an extra level of work this week to get even a third of this in place, but wow will it be worth it. And then you can plan how all of this factors in your future to make the holiday after this one stress free and guilt free too!
If you’ve never done this before start small. Get strict. If you say you are finishing work at 6 pm, then don’t look at your phone again. If you say you are away this weekend. Don’t look at your phone. When I’m major busy and buzzed up at my clients success I can be tempted to live on my phone. My go to actions are 1. Give my phone to my hubby and tell him that under no circumstance is he to give it back. 2. Let my phone go flat – good for the planet too – just think how many hours of energy we could save! 3. Remind my teenagers that 2 hours before bedtime you should not use your phone and that they are to remind me that if I expect them to do something, I need to be a role model and do it too! What go to actions do you need to get strict?
We care passionately about our customers, colleagues and those around us, however I’m often fascinated by the fact that rarely do people put themselves on the priority list too. Time to change? Because you’ve now got the evidence and the ideas to make it a reality.
If you have a hardworking passionate team I’d be honoured to group coach you to action these tools and many more especially tailored to you. Just get in touch to learn more.