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MOVING ON IN LIFE AND DEALING WITH CHANGE

Cilla Black

Today we heard about the sad passing of UK celebrity called Cilla Black. A gifted singer, entertainer and TV presenter. Like a lot of public figures we grow up with them, they are doing their thing on the stage, film or whatever. We do our thing – sometimes never the twain shall meet.  

We see these people as they grow older, yet still see them in our mind singing that song or appearing in the movie when they were younger. We forget that we are getting older as well. How many of you have seen someone on the TV and maybe commented how old they are looking. Lets face it that celebrity would say the same thing about us – however we cannot see that we are getting older. Then when it is announced that they have passed away. For some of us there is a sadness – almost a disconnection from them – even though we never met them, yet we felt quite close to them. 

Over the years I have seen some of my favourite film stars, sportsmen and women, academics and the rest who I admired from afar have now gone. This is all the more important when the ones who have passed away have been close to us. There is then a hole in our lives where they once stood, a true sense of loss and maybe a lack of direction. 

This loss or grief is very real as an enforced change has been thrust upon us. Some people deal with this better than others, and, as you know this change can come in many forms. This could be about losing someone close to us, it could also be about a change in the way you work – or don’t work. Throughout our lives we go varying degrees of change. There are many models of change curves or change diagrams. At the time they do not really sit well with us as we are ‘in the moment’ in that place that we feel a sense of numbness.  

I like many of you reading this felt that numbness when I was made redundant. I withdrew into myself, I could not talk to people, I was quite angry – “Why me?” I was very emotional – as though I had been bereaved. This was a sense of loss in a different way. I had lost my way, my direction was not clear – “What do I do now?” They say that time is a good healer, that phrase may work for some people – to me all it means is the pain, anguish and that sense of loss is not as strong, getting slightly weaker in time.

People are very resilient in such situations, some dust themselves down quickly and get on with looking for a new job, or carve out for themselves a new career. Others may take a while longer while they work through their emotions coming to terms with what has happened to them. In my day to day role I help people to find themselves again, I help them regain their sense of purpose – their direction and therefore their motivation.

If you know of someone who needs help while they are going through the own personal change curve – not a change curved devised by some University or study. Then I can help them to move forward. Email me and I will respond with some guidance.

richard@saxtonpartners.co.uk

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RECOGNISING FACTORS OF STRESS

what do you want me to do
I have been very humbled by the comments and emails I have received about my Blog about stress and its challenges. There is one overriding theme through these communications. How does a person realise they are stressed or not? Remember stress is an essential part of Humans functionality. This part is good as a reasonable level of stress does work for us, not against us.

However when these levels get too much, our minds go into overwhelm. This in itself creates what some might call ‘irrational behaviour’. This may not be recognised by the individual concerned. It is easy to say – recognise and deal with it – not so easy when you are immersed in it.

Apart from the obvious indicators or stress such as , levels of low energy, irritation with others, anger about stuff in general, possibly leading to a withdrawal into a ‘personal world’ almost cutting yourself off from others both and work and socially. We all have what I describe as trigger points that will spark a reaction from this person. These trigger points vary from person to person as each set of circumstances are different. Here is a small list of what for some are those trigger points. Have a look at these and read them with an open mind. Some of them may strike a chord with you, a co-worker or close friend. As we all know stress can and does have very serious effects on a person’s quality of life – and life itself.

Alcohol/Tobacco
In my experience as a Coach, I have come across some people who call for a drink on the way home from work. However in some circumstances one drink will lead to two and maybe more. This person might then end up in court on a drink driving charge, involved in an accident hurting themselves or another innocent person. In fact they might have another drink when they get home.
The same thoughts apply to smoking. There are some people who ‘eat’ cigarettes; they go through 2 or 3 packs a day. Not only is it expensive, and they are damaging their health as well. The alcohol and tobacco elements become this persons ‘comfort blanket’ – their ‘feel good factor’.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Do you have a drink because the bottle is there?
Do you light up that cigarette, even when you don’t want it?

Anger/Frustration
I have also coached people who are fine at work. They perform their job well; they are liked and respected by their peers. However when they get home the family bears the brunt of their stress and frustration. The slightest little thing will cause a person to raise their voice at their other half. I have come across examples where a person walks into the house and steps on a toy – Boom – World War 3 has started. There are some people who have very heated discussions as to who has the TV remote. Something as simple as this can escalate into a very serious situation. Sometimes this type of interaction could lead to physical harm to one or both parties.
Does this sound familiar to you?

The ‘Bedroom Department’
The ‘Bedroom Department’ is seldom talked about. There are times when a person (Male or Female) has not been able to make love to their other half in the way they used to. This is not just a male issue. This in my experience can affect both men and women. In most examples that I have come across, the very fact that they cannot make love brings an added level of stress on top of the existing one. Another factor comes in to play here. Which is a person’s Ego. Like excess alcohol consumption, drugs, unacceptable behaviour at home and the office and the ‘Bedroom Department’, become a Taboo subject or subjects.
Do you have a Taboo subject?

Work Related Issues
Work related stress is one of the most common causes of raised stress levels. If you work at a Company where there are the usual levels of stress – then that is good. This is a Company that does not makes totally excessive demands of its work force. There are structures in place such as your job description is clearly defined. The Company empowers and trains you to complete your allotted tasks. It will have work schedules that are achievable and realistic and challenges you in your current role.
On the other hand, you may experience bullying, unrealistic time pressures, overbearing supervisors and senior staff, no or very little training, travelling to work, redundancies, down sizing and maybe having to work overtime to make a decent wage. These are just a few examples – I am sure that you can think of a lot more. I do not have a ‘silver bullet’ for the examples above. However, in most countries that I deal with there are Company policies and National legislation in place to protect workers against such actions and anti social policies.

If you are involved in your Companies downsizing policy – then see it as an opportunity to seek a role elsewhere. You will have skills and experience that are transferable to another employer. All is not necessarily lost, even though it might feel that way at the moment. Focus on what you want in the future – is what you are doing and having to experience getting you there.
Do you have an Action Plan to get what you want?

Do Not Become A Statistic
I was once a Police Officer in the UK. I was working in the gaol area one night when a guy was brought in under arrest. It turns out that he was arrested on suspicion of Burglary. He was an articulate man, well spoken. Not the usual type of person that a gaoler is used to processing. Once he had been placed in a cell, I did my rounds. After 30 minutes I checked on him to see if he was alright. I got a lot of attitude from him, he thought I was judging him. As I was on the other side of the cell bars to him.

He went on to say that he was a former Company Director with a 6 figure salary, Company Car, Health Benefits, the full works. He was then let go by this Company – and could not face going out in the job market for fear of failure which stressed him enormously. The only way he thought he could feed his family was to rob houses. Which thankfully he was not very good at. He made the point to me, that, I could be on his side of the bars if I make a wrong turn or decision in the future.
Do you know that conversation has stayed with me since 1982!

You are not alone, call me (+44) 0799 099 1103

richard@saxtonpartners.co.uk

LR10aa

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DEALING WITH STRESS

suspicion
Since my last post on recognising stress. I have been asked if I have any more tips on dealing with stress. Here are a few more of my thoughts, They may not tick the box for all of you reading this. However it might help you to create your own strategy – after all if you ‘own’ the strategy, then you will have more change of success. If these do tick the box for you, then start that change process – NOW!

If you look at my previous blog, the main thrust of it, is that someone has a need to recognise the symptoms that are actually stressed. This in turn will then enable that individual to make two choices. Address the stress or simply get on with it. Remember me saying, that we all need a bit of stress to make us function as Humans, to create and achieve our goals for ourselves and our loved ones.

There are some simple things you can do to de-stress yourself:-

1.) Exercise.
This might take the form of joining a gym. When you do go, work at your own pace, do what you want to do. Be yourself and work to your needs not the people around you. Or simply put on your coat and go for a walk – whatever the weather.

2.) Take a snap shot of your life.
Simply look at some of those things that could be causing your stress. A sudden shift by you will not be sustained, as you will revert back to type in time. A small shift on a regular basis is all you need. Remember that phrase “If you do what you have always done, you will get the same result.” Therefore if you don’t tackle stress – you will still end up feeling stressed.

3.) Me Time.
When do you ever have ‘Me Time’? This is very important as you can give yourself some quality ‘Me Time”. By the very fact you are assigning yourself this time – will give to yourself a huge feel good factor. ‘Me Time’ can simply mean listening to music, going out with friends and/or socialising, or doing a bit of mediation or reading.

4.) Give yourself a Challenge.
You might decide to enrol at College and do a basic language course 1 evening a week. If this challenge is a physical one – this will tick this Challenge Section – the ‘Me Time’ Section and the Exercise Section. A win – win – win.

5.) Accept the things you cannot change.
This might be the most challenging aspect. Some things are completely out of our control, there is nothing we can do about them. So why stress about it? Accept the fact and work with it.

These are just some ideas to ‘kick start’ your thinking. If you want me to help you think through your new way of thinking – simply contact me via this blog.

This is your life – your body – your mind. You owe it to yourself to ‘own it’.

Have a great stress free day.
woman thumbs up

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Have You Ever Hit A Brick Wall?

There are times in our business and private lives when we hit that brick wall. This term will mean different things to different people. For me it is when I am not getting where I need to be, to some it will be just a state of de-motivation or stress.

Ask yourself this:-
1.) Have you ever put off making that phone call because you cannot be bothered?
2.) Have you run round all day at the office and not got a thing done?
3.) Do you ever sit in your chair and just sit there looking busy?
4.) Have you got so many balls in the air – you are not sure which one to deal with next?
5.) Are you due some time off?

You may or may not agree with any of the 5 points above – they are just examples to stimulate your mind – so that you know where I am coming from.

What you are experiencing is a state of flux, a stopped state of mind that just cannot process all those things going round in your head. You may feel that if you got up and made a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom that this will unstick this stuck state. Not so.

What is happening for you is that your head will be down, dashing around all over the place. Task after task after task – that is what it seems like to you while you are in this state of mind. It is called an Associated State – this is where your head is totally immersed in what you are doing.

To change this state you need to do something. There are a couple of techniques I will share with you:-

a.) Move from where you are sitting, change the environment. When it is safe to do so – simply raise your head and stroke the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It will tickle a bit, however by doing this brings you out of that state of mind.

b.) When you are at home – away from the office. I want you to find your favourite chair and sit there. Close your eyes and see yourself in the office, doing what you have been doing recently. So you are observing you. See how you’re sat, your body language, and the tension on your face and see how you are coming across to other people.

By using one or both of these two techniques you will find that you dis-associate from the issues at hand. It will give to you a clearer picture of what is going on. This way you can take action – the great benefit of this is that you will become more productive.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.

Have a great day.

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Do Your Work Colleagues Work And/Or Think In Silo’s?

I visited a potential client the other day, who was a manufacturer. Had a tour round the plant by one of the Directors. Very clean, very organised – no out of date memos on the notice boards – you know the thing I mean.

I was collected by this Director in their reception area. We started our factory tour by putting on our high visibility vest, safety hat and ear plugs. I was shown one area near to the reception, where some goods are delivered. All quite neat and tidy.

We then went into another part of the factory, which in fact was another part of their manufacturing process – a storage area. There was a difference, still tidy – the notice boards were still organised – and it had information only about that area of the business – nothing else. I would go so far as to say, that the staff had a different attitude to the ones I had previously experienced.

My factory tour continued into the main production hall. The noise level here was higher than the other two areas – not surprising as this was the main hub of the whole plant. I noticed that the floor and corners of this area were not as clean or tidy, when compared with the previous department. There was a lot of shouting, and quite ‘robust’ language, people being quite aggressive with each other. They were not arguing or fighting – just a bunch of guys constantly in each others faces.

The final part of my tour was the distribution area. Once again there was a marked difference to the production area. I went with my host to the boardroom for a coffee. He asked me what I thought about his plant. I said that my first impressions were that there seemed to the four businesses under one roof. The delivery area, the storage area, the production area and the logistics side of the business.

The Director was interested and asked me to give to him more detail about what we were discussing. The main point that I made was that each area was so different to the other. Yes – we must have some differences. What I was alluding to was the attitude of the work force in those areas – the way they came across as I walked passed them.
This Director thought about what I had said and after some discussion he realised that the four areas reflected the Manager that ran them. In essence the guy running the production area was a former military man before he came to industry. His department reflected his management style, as did the other three departments.

These four Managers had created their own Silo’s or how that part of the business worked for them, It is important to have individuals who are what they are and not clones of each other. So that they are different as I am different to my host Director.

He then told me that they were having ‘communication problems’ between departments. That is why he contacted me and gave me the factory tour. He knew there was something not right, yet, could not put his finger on it.
I devised a plan to ‘De-Silo’ the Managers – the benefit will be that communication will be better. Thus ensuring that the needs of the external customer are put first – not the internal Silo’s. Quite a challenge – however, I will achieve a result for him.

If you need silo’s removing – then I can help you.

Have a great day.

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Customer Service – How is Yours?

I came across an article by Pat Lencioni of The Table Group about customer service. I thought I would share this with you as I it highlights what a Companys perception of Customer Service is compared to what it actually is.

The Dangers of Dishonest Marketing
Summer involves a lot of air travel for me, and so I suppose I get inspired, or provoked, to address my airline frustrations and relate them to leadership and management. But the purpose here is not to complain about bad service.

That’s not to say that the flight that stimulated this essay featured good service. It didn’t. It was one of the big, legacy air carriers, and even as we were boarding the flight attendants made it clear that they were not looking forward to our disruptive presence in their workplace. But I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to that, so I wasn’t particularly upset by the situation.

What made this experience particularly frustrating was something that happened even before the plane took off. Just before the safety briefing, a video was shown featuring the CEO of the airline, who warmly greeted passengers and proudly announced that customer service was the hallmark of the airline, and that it always has been.

Really?

It got worse. Next we watched short clips of smiling employees – flight attendants, customer service agents,
pilots – declaring that everything they do, the reason they work, is to make customers happy. It was surreal and, frankly, insulting.

As unpleasant as this was for me and the other passengers, I think the most uncomfortable people on the plane were the flight attendants who had to stand there and watch themselves portrayed in a way that did not generally reflect anything close to reality. Whether they were ashamed of themselves or disgusted by their leader, I don’t know, but either way it was awkward.

Anyway, once I got beyond my initial reaction to all this, I came to realize that there are two lessons to be learned here. First, leaders should not use marketing to address an issue that is more fundamentally related to organizational health. This only masks the problem and prevents the organization from addressing it at its core, which almost always starts at the top.

Second, leaders who do this throw gasoline on a fire, making a bad situation even worse. See, there is something far, far more maddening than experiencing poor service: being lied to about that service and having your intelligence insulted. I am not proud to admit that I had a very visceral, bitter attitude about that CEO at that moment, and I think his flight attendants did too.

Frankly, I would have preferred if he had come on the video and explained, “Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for flying our airline. Though we say you have a choice, these days you probably don’t as we may be the only airline serving this route at this time of day. And I know all too well that the service you get when you fly with us is inconsistent, if not unfriendly. Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons that I can’t go into here, it’s difficult for us to get rid of surly flight attendants, and for that matter, reward the really good ones. But I hope you’re fortunate to have a really good one today, and if not, I hope the overall experience isn’t too unpleasant. And please know that we always do our best to make the flight safe.”

I would have stood and applauded. And you know what? I think that kind of honesty would actually do more to provoke a cultural change at the airline by making the less friendly flight attendants not want to be seen that way.

Okay, just as I was finishing this essay, I arrived at my destination city and checked in at a big airport hotel. My colleague and I were greeted somewhat unenthusiastically by a young woman at the check-in desk who was wearing a ribbon emblazoned with the word “WOW” on it. We asked her what it meant and she told us, a little hesitantly, that it had to do with providing customers with great service so they would say ‘wow.’

As she explained this, another ribbon-wearing employee was standing next to her, doing nothing. She neither smiled, looked up at us, nor asked if she could help my colleague check-in. I can only imagine what must have been going through her mind as she listened to our conversation and decided not to engage.

Again, the point here is not to be harsh on these particular employees. Like flight attendants and the rest of us, they have their stories and their challenges in life, I’m sure. The point is that leaders of organizations only make their problems worse when they use gimmicks and marketing programs to convince customers that they’re good at something that anyone with eyes and ears knows they do poorly.

Of course, what these companies need to do is address the underlying cultural and operational issues at the heart of their service problem. And if they ultimately come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t or can’t invest in improving service – which might be justified – then they should focus on touting their real strengths and stop insulting their customers and employees by making preposterous and unjustified claims.

Ultimately, people want honesty, clarity, and even vulnerability from the companies that serve and employ them. And I’m convinced that they’ll reward those companies for it. Heck, maybe the woman at the hotel should have said, “Hi. We’re not the Ritz-Carlton, but the rooms are clean, we don’t have bedbugs and there’s free wi-fi. That’s all you really need for the money you paid, right?” Okay, that may be unrealistic, but I swear it would be better than the “WOW” ribbons.
Yours,
Pat Lencioni

I agree with Pat on all the points he raises here. We have all put up with this type of thing in the past. Maybe it is time for a change.

Have a great day.

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