Job skills are critical for success. Attitude may be more important. More and more companies consider a prospect’s attitude at least as essential as education and skills. This trend is growing as the pace of change accelerates. To these employers, it makes more sense to hire people who are positive, collaborative and adaptable vs. someone who is hard to work with and resistant to change—and whose present skills, however considerable, may soon be obsolete anyway. If certain attitudes are vital to success, where do they come from? Are you born with them? Or can you develop them, like any other skill?
We all experience stress. But sometimes, like a leaky pipe that eventually bursts from pressure, the stress turns into burnout. Regular stress and burnout exhibit many of the same symptoms, such as exhaustion, anxiety, and trouble sleeping and eating. But where stress feels temporary, burnout feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. You feel empty and used up. You can’t concentrate. You get no pleasure from activities you used to enjoy. You may feel disconnected from people you love. Burnout has many causes, such as marriage problems or caring for an aging parent. Work burnout is especially common. According to Gallup, 23 percent of people say they feel burned out at work often and 63 percent feel burned out sometimes. The result is low morale, high turnover and poor performance. What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are nine things you can do to help yourself and others find relief:
Looking for better teamwork and performance? Try empathy. Empathy is the ability—and willingness to try—to understand the feelings of others. It means seeing their point of view, not just yours. When people feel understood, they are more willing to listen and collaborate. They feel safer to test new ideas. They handle change and bounce back more quickly from challenges. Surveys show 80 percent of CEOs believe empathy is key to success. Their employees feel more strongly, with 96 percent saying empathy at work is essential.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle had a foolproof strategy to avoid criticism. The answer, he said, was “saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” None of us gets through life without being criticized, whether it’s by parents, teachers, friends, bosses, coworkers or spouses. Some differentiate criticism from feedback. They say criticism implies judgment, while feedback is about looking for a solution. A good distinction, but feedback often contains elements of criticism. And criticism can be delivered with the most caring intentions.
Human beings, like all animals in communities, are wired to feel what people around them are feeling. It’s an evolutionary trait: When a cave dweller anticipated a threat, the sooner other tribe members picked up on those perceptions, the safer they’d all be. It works much the same today, except the threats aren’t woolly mammoths. Our stresses come from being asked to do more with less. Information overload. Fear of mistakes. Tension with coworkers. Possible layoffs. It’s estimated up to 50 percent of employees view work as the main source of stress in their lives. That means you or the person working next to you is probably feeling overwhelmed. Inevitably one of you will start to feel it too.
In last month’s blog, we kicked off our 20 Years of FISH! celebration with memorable quotes from people who have used the philosophy to improve their lives. This month we explore another great FISH! insight: “To change an organization, you’ve got to change yourself. As I work on myself I find I have a bigger impact on people than when I was trying to work on them.” Rob Gregory, owner, Rochester Ford Toyota It’s tempting, especially for leaders, to try to “fix” people—to “improve” them so they do more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s been 20 years since our award-winning video, FISH!, introduced The FISH! Philosophy to the world. Over the next year, we’ll celebrate by sharing inspiring stories, tips and activities to help you continue to live the four practices. Be sure to look for special offers on our programs and workshops throughout the year. In this month’s blog, we kick off 20 Years of FISH! with 10 great quotes from people who have used The FISH! Philosophy to improve their work and lives:
Surveys show 95 percent of us think we’re self-aware. Unfortunately, research shows only 10-15 percent of us really are. Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself accurately. It’s understanding your personality, feelings, strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. It’s recognizing how your actions impact others. Psychologists say self-awareness is a foundation to happiness and success. Seeing yourself clearly helps you build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively. You’ll make wiser decisions and be a better leader.
You can’t say the F-word at work. That’s right . . . fun. Psychologists say fun is a basic psychological need, as important as being loved. But many people believe fun and work don’t mix. Even at ChartHouse Learning, home of The FISH! Philosophy, we go to great lengths to emphasize Play is more than fun. We substitute words such as enjoyment, lightheartedness and positivity. We explain that Play is a mindset that stimulates fresh thinking and creativity. But wherever Play is happening, fun will show up too. Rather than avoid any mention of fun, why not try to understand what it actually looks like? A survey of 2,000-plus employees by Bright HR, a UK company, reveals how people see fun at work. The study also reinforces how The FISH! Philosophy builds a foundation for fun.
Listening makes real communication possible. In a workplace that values listening, people feel safer to suggest creative ideas and bring up problems that need to be addressed. Information is less likely to be distorted as it travels through the organization. People are more likely to feel supported and respected, improving teamwork and morale.