Wellbeing: Is it time for you to wake up at work?
Suffering from the New Year work blues? Want to build a positive mindset at work for the coming year? Michael Brown, business coach, author and leadership trainer, advises on ways to rebuild our career mojo.
It’s a new year, and many of us will have resolved to make some changes in the way we live our lives, including our working lives, and how fulfilled we feel.
I have met nearly 10,000 employees through my work as a leadership coach and trainer, and sadly I have to report that all too many of them have given up questioning the way they do their job and instead chosen a more passive middle path, of doing enough to get to the end of the week without either the job or their personal life collapsing. As someone said to me once: “We’ve fallen asleep at the wheel.” I’m hoping this article might be a wake-up call; a friendly prod on the arm to do something about what are probably multiple workplace dysfunctions you may be delaying dealing with.
Let me ask you a work-related but personal question (and be honest with yourself!):
How much of your working week, in your opinion, are you spending time on things you think you should be doing, and doing them well? Write down your average percentage across a typical week.
I wonder how your answer compares with the average which I’ve been researching now for over 20 years. The average is a mere 40%. This means most people reckon they spend three days per weekdoing things they shouldn’t be doing, or doing things they should be doing but doing them badly.
Quite how organisations survive on two days’ per week average productivity is beyond me. But I’m a natural optimist, and believe that this figure can change for the better through some simple changes in behaviour and attitude.
Let me share the top three easiest and most effective changes you can make on your path to boosting your “career mojo”, as I call it.
1. Do something about your useless meetings
These are your biggest time waster. Poorly run, often irrelevant to you (but you got invited just in case) and often lacking ownership or clarity over who is going to do what. They sap your energy and waste your time and for some reason, we don’t do anything about it. I met someone recently who told me very honestly that he wastes 18 hours per week of his life in meetings he shouldn’t be at.
Here are three things you can do to change all that:
- Don’t attend meetings which don’t have an agenda. Ask for an agenda, and if you’re told there is no agenda, say you can’t therefore assess whether it’s a good use of your time, and decline it. (I know people who save hours per week on this one alone).
- Suggest to the meeting owner that they put a time limit on each item on the agenda, and then have someone call it when you have 5 minutes left. It’s amazing how this focuses the discussion.
- Start each meeting with a review of the actions from the previous meeting. Once people realise that they are going to be asked to account for themselves it somehow raises their commitment to doing what they say they will.
Bonus item: finish every meeting with a review of how the meeting went, and how it could be improved next time. Funny how that seems to create a cycle of continuous improvement. It also allows people to give each other feedback, such as a chance for the Introverts (usually about half the people in the meeting) to say whether they felt listened to and included or not, for instance.
2. Build more trust
The next Mojo Booster is to make time to build trust with your key stakeholders. Trust levels in society are at an all time low. Hence the extraordinary goings-on we are witnessing in politics around the world. In the workplace this means collaboration becomes rarer and we find ourselves putting energy into covering our own back, defending our own territory and having a scarcity mindset as opposed to one of abundance.
The best way to build trust is to spend time with people. This is easier said than done, but if you plan it you can do it. Get to know people informally (away from the office is a good place to do it), and start to share more of the human factor with them. Over time you start to uncover your shared interests, values and concerns, and can work towards helping each other to achieve them.
3. Negotiate more for yourself
Not know some basic principles of negotiation can leave people vulnerable when others negotiate with them - which is most of the time, as most transaction between two humans involve some element of negotiation. Here are some negotiation principles which can help you achieve a better outcome for yourself:
- Be ready to negotiate! When people ask you for something, they don’t always expect you to say yes and are ready to look at alternatives if you go about it the right way. So don’t think that doing what you’re asked to every time is what is expected.
- Test people’s positions. When they ask for something, they often don’t really mean it. There is normally at least 20% “wiggle room” to be had, so test whether there is. If I ask you to send the report by Friday, I may well be able to wait until the following Monday. So ask me: “how much flexibility do you have on that?”
- Nothing for nothing. Don’t give anything away for free. That way people will value it more, and you may find you get something back in return.
- Insert “IF” into your response. “If I do that analysis for Friday, can you do the slide deck?” Suddenly this is a two way street and we are collaborating. This will improve our relationship, not weaken it.
These may sound small or basic steps to take. But I am confident they will make a real and sustainable difference to your workplace experience.
Michael Brown is a business coach and leadership trainer who has worked with nearly 10,000 people around the world over 20 years. His book “My Job Isn’t Working!” summarises what he has learnt from people he has worked with over this time, and shares ten proven ways of boosting career mojo. Want to hear more ways to boost your career mojo from Michael? Then book on to our Cityparents Accelerator half day conference. More details here.
Released On 17th Jan 2019