By now, most of us have already begun to slip away from those worthwhile New Year’s resolutions we made a couple of weeks ago. Many people I know don’t even bother to make resolutions because they don’t believe they’ll follow through. And yet, as my colleague Constance Dierickx points out, people do make significant changes all the time.
Does being rich make you happier? The answer seems obvious — of course it does! Anyone who has ever been poor knows that poverty is miserable. Financial comfort is much more fun. So surely, true wealth must be even better?
What is going on at McDonald’s? Their current CEO, Chris Kempczinski, just got himself into very hot water by sending a blindingly inappropriate and mean-spirited text to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Commenting on the shooting deaths of two Chicago teenagers, he wrote, “With both, the parents failed those kids which I know is something you can’t say.” Read that again – he knew he was writing something unacceptable, and he sent the text anyway – to a major public figure!
Argh! How can we talk about preventing burnout when the @#*$&! pandemic isn’t over yet?! We’ve been struggling through this horrible time in one way or another since March 2020. It’s enough already!
What are people feeling these days?
A peer of mine, “Bruce,” was up for promotion. As part of his assessment, I was asked to provide 360° feedback for him, contributing to the confidential feedback alongside his boss, peers, and subordinates.
I liked and respected Bruce, and for the most part my feedback was very positive. But in the comments section I wrote:
“Bruce often gives me critical feedback or advice which I have not requested. I’m sure his intention is good, but it feels somewhat demeaning. He is my peer, not my boss. If I want feedback I will ask him for it. I think this behavior may undermine his effectiveness as a colleague and a leader.”
Many of my clients are struggling right now with how to motivate their employees (and sometimes themselves). Everyone is tired of the pandemic, and Delta is not helping anything. Masks? Vaccination passports? Are you kidding me? We are so done with all of that. But it’s not over yet, not by a long shot.
On top of that, people are just generally tired. Many of us have been working extra hard under very difficult conditions for the past 18 months. We’d like to see some reward and appreciation for all that effort, and it sometimes seems to be in short supply.
It’s all adding up to a lot of churn right now. People stayed in their jobs during the pandemic, even if they were not happy, because many felt lucky to have a job at all. But now the floodgates have opened, and people are switching jobs all over the place. A lot of those people are the most talented, high-performing employees that companies want to hang on to.
At last, at least in some locations, groups of people are beginning to reassemble. As an extravert, I’ve been longing for this day to come. I’m grateful that we had Zoom to carry us through all those lonely months, but you will never convince me that interacting with others virtually can create the same levels of trust, intimacy, and pleasure that meeting face-to-face can produce.
That doesn’t mean the return to in-person feels entirely natural. As an individual, I have to figure out where I feel comfortable rejoining the world. And as a manager, I have to figure out how to bring a team back together when we’ve acclimated to the digital versions of each other.
All the business leaders I talk with these days are struggling with the same issue: Whether and how to bring their employees back into the office.
Some are firmly convinced that everyone needs to come back full-time right now. Others are equally convinced that employees should be granted total flexibility — come in when you want and as much or as little as you want. Many are somewhere in between these two extremes. And almost everyone is feeling confused and uncertain about what is best.
Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. In each company, it takes a unique set of circumstances to retain your best people while maximizing the good work you get out of them. Still, there are a few guidelines to keep front-of-mind.
I had been a therapist for a few years when my mentor gave me a stern challenge. “Gail,” she said. “You cannot be a top-notch therapist until you have spent some time in your own therapy!” She gave me two reasons for this dictum. First, it’s important for therapists to unpack their own emotional baggage, so that it doesn’t get in the way of being fully available and empathic to their clients. Second, therapists need to know what it feels like to be a client, so they don’t do dumb things that get in the way of their client’s healing.
To be honest, I wasn’t very open to her suggestion. I had a good life, I was a happy person, I had a wonderful family and friends — why did I need to see a therapist? But I really respected her opinion, so I decided to give it a try. And she was right. It was one of the most valuable experiences of my life, both personally and professionally.
A long time ago I had to work with a very frustrating administrative assistant. I was a relatively new consultant and as far as she was concerned, it was way below her dignity for her to provide support to the likes of me. One day she said to me, “I am corporate and you are small business.” She was an expert at playing passive-aggressive games, like preparing documents for me at the very last minute before I had to go into a meeting.
Frankly, she drove me crazy. I used to lie awake nights trying to figure out how to deal with her. I mean, for goodness sake, I’m a psychologist! And I’m generally regarded as pretty easy to work for. Surely I could fix this problem.
The top company executives had been interviewing candidates for the CFO role. They found someone they really liked and were convinced he was the right guy for the job. In fact, they were already driving him around the town to show him attractive neighborhoods where his family could live. By the time they asked me to interview and assess the candidate, his hire was all but a done deal. I was just answering a few last-check questions: Was he the right leader for the job? Would he be a good fit with the company culture?
We’re all old hands at virtual work by now. That technology that seemed impossible a year ago? We’ve figured it out. Working with kids and pets underfoot? No problem. Avoiding going into the kitchen for a snack every half-hour? Well, maybe that one we’re still working on.
And now we’re starting to think about returning to the office and the world of 3D work. Many of us are vaccinated and itching to get back to in-person collaboration. Others have found working from home (WFH) quite satisfying and aren’t quite so thrilled at the prospect of putting our business “uniforms” back on and heading out into the world of face-to-face interactions.
Reading an article about how to build self-confidence at work recently, I stopped on the first piece of advice: “Believe in yourself.” If you believe in yourself, you don’t need to be reading an article about self-confidence. You’re already there.
After decades of working with clients who lack self-confidence, both as a therapist and later as a coach, I have learned there are five actual steps people can take to become more self-confident.