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Tag Archives: Mental Health Strategy

Owls

When being the boss’ favourite can hurt your career

OwlsMachiavelli once ruminated on whether, as a leader, it was better to be loved or feared. While he concluded that it is “safer” to be feared than loved, as humans we crave community and recognition from those we respect or who are in a position of leadership.

Our natural instinct in the workplace is to try to curry favor with the boss so we can be influential in the decision making process, know that our ideas are heard first or bend the ear of our leader when promotion opportunities arise. While all of this might sound great for you personally, it can actually work to your detriment in very important ways.

Envy brings out the worst in people

When you are seen as the “chosen one” in the office, your teammates and coworkers will inevitably begin to envy you. While it may appear inconsequential at first, your proximity to your boss’s power may present some challenges in doing your job. Coworkers will gradually shut you out of important interpersonal office relationships. Even those who eschew workplace friendships recognise the need for connectedness in sharing crucial work-related information and team communication. If you are seen as the boss’s favorite, you may be left out of the loop, intentionally or not.

Hitching your wagon to your boss’s horse may work against you

Currying your boss’s favor is nice while it lasts. However, bosses who tend to play favorites are also fickle in their affection. You may be the heir apparent to their job one week and at the rear of the pack the next thanks to a manager’s changing whims or perceptions. It is also unwise to attach your merit within an organization to anyone else’s. Sure, your boss is influential today, but should they lose their position or credibility, you will likely lose yours as well unless you are associated with something other than your boss.

You begin to lose your objectivity

The idea of “groupthink” was first introduced by Irving Janis in 1972. He theorised that groups who are insulated from outside opinions are subject to faulty reasoning, a deterioration of mental capacity and a lack of moral judgment. Whether that group consists of 2 or 20, the concept remains the same. The longer you spend in the shadow of your boss, the more likely you are to insulate yourself from the differing opinions of your coworkers. Without that difference, you lose the ability to make an objective decision. This, coupled with a growing sense of invulnerability inevitably leads to carelessness and negative consequences.

So what should you do instead?

As humans we tend to want to be recognised for our accomplishments. We want to feel as though we are in positions of power to affect change for the better. In order to do this without sacrificing personal integrity or career trajectory, it is important to act decisively and methodically in your relationship with your boss.

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Do not oversell your influence with your peers or your boss. Give credit where credit is due. Never claim success that is not yours.
  2. Honour the workplace team. As tempting as it may be to let favoritism work for you, remember that your work team is where the majority of your tasks are accomplished. If relationships are strained, productivity plummets and your credibility dwindles.
  3. Be impeccable with your word. If something is shared in confidence with you by your boss, do not tell your coworkers until your boss shares the information. If something is shared in confidence by a teammate, do not tell your boss but rather encourage your coworker to build that relationship.
  4. Get to know other executives. Many people who are seen as parrots of their boss can combat this by interacting with other executives and learning from their insights. While some bosses become paranoid about losing their sidekick, most will see your desire to learn as a way to leverage your talents with other areas of the organization.

As nice as it may be to have the favour of your manager, you might find that it leads to greater stress and career hindrance rather than help.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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Recovery at The Mental Health Recovery Institute

What Does ‘Recovery’ Mean?

Often, when I deal with health professionals and people in training, I get a range of responses when they learn that people can recover from mental disorder. Some are surprised, some intrigued by the concept since they’ve never heard it before and others oppose the idea of recovery with a vengeance. Why? What’s going on?

The concept of ‘Recovery’ from mental health problems has been around for hundreds of years, and yet for many people, the fact that people do recover from mental disorders is something that still surprises many people.

Recovery at the Workplace Mental Health InstituteThere are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that the traditional model of psychiatry has explicitly stated that people do not recover. We now have oodles of research showing that this simply isn’t true. But nonetheless, the misconception persists.

The term ’Recovery’ has a long political, social, and clinical history, and its meaning has been much debated particularly over the last 10 to 20 years. I won’t go into the details now, (I could write a whole book on it, and probably will one day).

For now, what you need to know is that the term ‘Recovery’ has particular meanings within the mental health sector (even though many working in that sector still do not understand it fully).

So here is my attempt to summarize some pretty complex ideas, into a few simple explanations of what ‘Recovery’ means to us here at The Workplace Mental Health Institute:

The Recovery approach adopted by the Workplace Mental Health Institute emphasizes and supports a person’s potential for recovery.

1. We believe Recovery is not only possible, it’s probable.

    1. Research over the last hundred years is showing that on average around 57% of people with severe mental health problems do recover. And the statistics are much better for people with less severe mental distress, those who get help early, and with newer therapeutic modalities now available.

2. We view mental distress as mostly psychological, social or spiritual in nature, not as an illness. Though there maybe physical consequences and interactions.

    1. Treatment therefore can come from a range of alternatives. We are all unique and one size does not fit all.

3. We focus on ability, not disability.

    1. A person experiencing mental distress has strengths, skills and personal characteristics despite their current emotional state. Research indicates that when people recover from a mental health problem, they are actually more productive at work than they were before becoming unwell, due to their increased resilience, and strategies learned.

4. We define Recovery as the absence of severe or abnormal distress, and the presence of positive emotions and wellness.

    1. Everyone has some stress from time to time, but if mental ill-health is defined as severe emotional distress, then recovery would mean the person no longer experiences that level of distress.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
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nokia

We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost

Remember Nokia? I had a couple of their mobile phones once upon a time. One of my favourite phones, in fact. It was small, sleek, silver. Easy to carry. Easy to use. And stylish. It was perfect until…smartphones came on the scene. Why do I tell you this?

The CEO of Nokia in May admitted defeat saying, ’we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost’. Why? New ways of doing things; the fickleness of human nature – we like something one minute, we dislike it the next; and then…some not so clever decisions. Is there something to be learnt here? How is this related to mental health at work?

We didn't do anything wrongWell, while Nokia may claim to be innocent and a victim of circumstances, is it accurate to say that ‘we didn’t do anything wrong’? Let’s have a look.

Undoubtedly, Nokia was big. Had tremendous resources. It also had a problem many organisations share – they get complacent. Here are some comments people have made as to what went wrong (and see how that matches against some poor approaches to mental health in workplaces):

‘They were reactive instead of responsive’. A common mistake in mental health too. Companies wait till there is a crisis, then they act – IF they act. Often the attitude continues to be, ‘let’s wait and see’.

“They thought ‘We are Nokia – we have all the engineering know-how in-house we don’t need developers”. This is another common one. The education of staff on mental health issues is carried out in-house. There are some problems with this approach – can you think of some? Too often this work is delegated to someone that hasn’t got the expertise but likes the topic as a ‘hobby’. And even if the expertise is there, is that their job? Usually people have full time jobs and training is added onto their busy schedule, making the mental health training program unlikely to succeed.

“They didn’t try anything new.” In mental health, if what you do isn’t working, you have to try something new. Some organisations have tried one thing – a mental health morning tea, or a couple of posters, and didn’t get the result they wanted. It might have been a great initiative for a little while, but soon everyone forgot about it and went back to business as usual.

“They failed Deliver with Speed and Simplicity”. Too often leadership teams lack an understanding of what is needed in mental health and wait to have all the information. When this is lacking, either the decision is delayed, with negative results for the business and the bottom line, or; the job is given to some ‘big’ mental health organisation as a means to shift the responsibility onto them (we tried…we gave it to ‘what’s-its-name’). The good news – you don’t need all the data to make decisions – just enough to see the benefits. A sense of urgency is important to get the results.

So, what do we learn from Nokia? Don’t be like Nokia. Learn, innovate and take action. Call me and let’s have a chat.

Have a mentally healthy day!

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn Twitter-logo

Stop

3 Occasions Managers Should Not Be Trained in Mental Health

Even though there’s enough evidence now pointing to the fact that managers are key to an organisation’s mental health, and that having good mental health in the workplace actually contributes to the bottom line, this doesn’t mean all managers should be trained in mental health.

Granted, most managers would do well in getting specialised manager mental health training, but not in all cases. And here are 3 of those cases:

3 occasions managers should not be trained in mental health1. If the manager’s a dick

Yes, you heard right. Sorry I had to get rough. But I hear all the time from people how they’ve been hurt by a boss who didn’t care how their actions impacted on others. Or worse, how they seemed to relish hurting other team members. No amount of training is going to get someone to care when they enjoy hurting others.  If a manager has psychopathic leanings and actually enjoys making people suffer, then good mental health training is wasted on such a person. The most effective thing to do with this type of manager is to remove them from the organisation quickly.

Then the organisation should provide good quality, empowering mental health education for the rest of the people, to help undo the damage caused by such individuals.

2. If the organization is not committed

If an organisation’s CEO and leadership team are not on board with good mental health training and don’t see it’s impact on it’s bottom line, (or ‘mental wealth’ as we like to call it), then it’s probably not going to be as effective, since managers could be caught in the double bind of having more knowledge than their bosses but lacking the authority to act on it.

How this problem would be addressed is by someone in the leadership team championing the mental health cause. Preferably the CEO but usually the Director of HR or the Director of WHS. (PS. If you need help preparing for this or you would like to brainstorm ideas with me, please contact my office for a chat)

3. If the training is illness based

A lot of workplace mental health education is ‘illness’ based. It focuses on disability not ability. This type of message is not only wrong and unethical but it undermines the manager’s ability to manage and drive their team.

To improve a team’s ability to produce, and impact the bottom line, it’s mental wealth, the manager needs to know not just what to look for, how to identify mental health issues arising, but also how to utilise what’s coming up in their team effectively, and how to create a healthy workplace that will support the person to stay at work and build their resilience, rather than responding by sending the person away til they are ‘better’.

In the field of mental health, there are two overarching approaches to mental health – one that is illness driven, the other one is strengths focussed. You do the math. You decide which one will provide you with the best tools to lead your team.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

pillar 3 feature image

Building a Mentally Healthy Workplace: 3rd Pillar

A lot of managers ask me ‘Pedro, how can we tell if someone REALLY has got a mental illness?’ They want to know if they are being manipulated and taken advantage of. Have you ever walked away with the feeling that someone was taking advantage of you in this area? It’s possible. And today I will show you how you can minimise these occurrences.

The secret to protect yourself and your team from manipulation and harassment claims; to boost your teams performance to unprecedented levels and get unique wisdom as to what really is going in your team relies on the application of Pillar 3 of the 7 Pillars of a Mentally Healthy Workplace.

Pillar 3 is Nothing About Me Without Me.

It is common for teams, due to the pressures of the work environment, to not quite get each other, start competing with each other detrimentally and for distrust to creep into the dynamics of the team. And Distrust is the toxic fume that Pillar 3 – Nothing About Me Without Me, focuses on. As a leader, you want to eradicate from your team any cause for distrust in your team. Both between team members and yourself. Distrust is the cancer of a high performing team. You must get rid of it. But, how do you do that?

One thing a lot of managers dont understand is that, one of the first, if not THE first, thing that suffers when people become distressed and mentally unwell is REAL TRUST in the relationship they have with their boss and with other team members. They don’t lose all trust but they lose trust that their relationship with you and others is robust enough for them to communicate openly and honestly; and they’ve lost trust that you have their back. Most managers miss this. And why wouldn’t they? They are not supposed to know, they are not Mental Health experts. By the way, this is missed by most mental health experts too! This is where Pillar 3 comes in so handy.

Pillar 3 makes the bold but well supported assertion to introduce real transparency into the way you communicate in your team. As an effective way to build trust, it says stop talking about others and bring them into the conversation from very early on.

Great advice.

Usually, when a staff member start showing signs and symptoms that something is not mentally well, many managers panic and go and talk to someone else. It is possible that it may have come to their attention because someone else raised it. And then they proceed to talk to others, maybe HR or their senior supervisor, trying to get direction on what to do. By the time the staff member with the problem is approached, very often others have had robust conversations during which decisions have been made…on the life and career of someone else not present – the staff member in distress. This doesn’t go well in building trust. Why?

Several reasons:

  • Contributes to the paranoia of the staff member: Who Else Is Talking About Me?
  • Having the person in conversations contributes to transparency
  • Its a sign of respect. Respect shows the person they are valued
  • It protects you from reaching the wrong conclusions about what is really going on. Oftentimes what is going on is not so bad and can be addressed easily if we work together as a team
  • Competency and confidence goes a long way to increase trust in your abilities; and they both get a better chance when aided with transparency

And these are just some of the very good reasons as to why creating a culture of inclusion, Nothing About Me Without Me, can have a positive impact on your attempts to create a mentally healthy culture.

Its a nice and efficient way to let your team know that you have their back and you trust them. When was the last time that happened to you? Felt good, right? That’s what we are encouraging you to do.

At our Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders, we operationalise this pillar and we show managers how to take their skills to the next level. If you’ve done this Masterclass, you know what we are talking about, right? If you haven’t, I invite you to join us for the next Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders.

I hope to see you soon and remember to be nice to each other.

– Pedro Diaz

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

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