Over the holiday weekend, there was a mass shooting in an affluent suburb of Chicago. A little boy was lost and it came out a day or two later that both of his parents were killed during the shooting.
I cannot get the image of that little boy—or his parents—out of my head. I was working out with my coach and my adrenaline was pumping and I collapsed into a puddle of tears. My coach was like, “What the heck is wrong with you?”
Like many of you, I’m at a breaking point. Women’s rights in this country have been stripped. It isn’t safe to go anywhere—not to school, not to church, not to the grocery store, and not to a parade. It’s too much and, beyond voting, which we all do (right??), it seems to be out of our control. Yet it’s breaking us down, burning us out, and making us unmotivated.
This is not an article on politics, but rather an article about the pressure cooker that many of us have been living in and what to do about it as leaders, supervisors, bosses, or peers.
It’s… A Lot
Inspire your team. Coach and mentor. Get the most out of them. Deliver results, not activities. Keep costs under control.
These things, and more, have always been top responsibilities for leaders at work, but the job has grown more time-consuming and complex thanks to the stress of the pandemic, searing political discord, urgent social justice issues, geopolitical earthquakes, the Great Resignation, and now recession fears.
I cannot think of a single one-to-one I have had in recent months that hasn’t started with, “Did you see what’s happened now?”
Keeping your team focused and happy through it all—while striving to accommodate their scheduling needs, health concerns, and personal obligations on top of your own—has been a lot.
CEOs. They’re Just Like Us!
A few weeks ago, I talked about how the loss of routine is enough to put us all on edge, but it’s more than that. Never before have we been at a crossroads where we are experiencing social, economic, and psychological change. It’s changed how we all view life—what’s important to each of us and what we want our next chapters to look like.
Even the leaders at the very tippy-top of organizations are evaluating their career choices and if they’re in the roles that will take them through to retirement.
CEOs. They’re just like us!
We All Want to Improve Our Well-Being
A recent survey from Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence found that “nearly 70% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being.”
A large majority of executives (81%) said improving their well-being is now more important than advancing at work.
It’s easy for an executive to do that—they’re already at the top, but what about those who are up-and-coming execs or those aspiring to middle management?
A survey conducted earlier this year with middle managers by Gartner found that roughly a quarter said they feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 25% said they don’t feel mentally engaged at work.
Among other things, they’re now under immense pressure from leadership to get things “back to normal” even though the lives and outlook of the people they manage no longer fit a pre-pandemic normal.
Many are also being told to continue doing work as if it’s 2019 again, without even a thought to how much has changed since then.
We are sitting in a pressure cooker that is about to explode if it hasn’t already.
Don’t Let Your Pressure Cooker Explode
Has your pressure cooker exploded or are you well on your way? What are you doing about it? Are you like these execs or middle managers surveyed who want more meaning in their work and are willing to make concessions to find it?
You’re not alone. I read an interesting article (that I can no longer find or I would link to it) that talked about how most of us spend our lives just waiting for the weekend. The author posits that perhaps we find one thing to be excited about every day—so we don’t have to wait for the weekend.
For instance, school and camp drop-off and pick-up are my favorite times of the day. I learn so much during those car or bike rides…stuff that seems to go out of their heads by the time they get home. I really look forward to that time together.
But I also look forward to things I can do for myself. I always, always work out. No matter what. Even if I’m not motivated or I think, “Eh, I’ll do it later,” I don’t allow myself to not do it. There are certainly days when I have to force myself, but I always feel better later.
And it’s not just exercise. If I have a rare two-hour block open in my day, I’ll take my laptop over to the nail salon and work while I get a pedicure. I also look forward to my once-per-week soy latte—the only caffeine I drink.
They’re small things, but in a world where the rest is full of immense pressure—from clients, employees, vendors, consultants, and even friends and family—it works.
Think About the Workplace of the Future
Find one thing to look forward to every day so you don’t have to wait for the weekend.
While you do that, think about what the workplace of the future will look like. More research from Gartner highlights a few things to consider:
- Managers should be poised to be great coaches and teachers, and operate with empathy. This is what makes one a great leader so it’s a perfect place to begin to work on your skills.
- Improve your digital dexterity, which means you should be able to apply creativity, critical thinking, and constant digital upskilling to solve complex problems.
- Investigate how the regular use of AI, smart software, and robots will invigorate your work strategy.
- Figure out how to emphasize life over work without putting you and your family at risk. It might be through having one thing to look forward to each day or taking up a hobby or just giving yourself time to be alone with your thoughts. Whatever it is that works for you is where you should focus.
And, listen, if you’re in a job or working with a client that is weighing you down, not keeping you mentally engaged or motivated, or harms your well-being, it’s time to move on. Do it now, while the job market is still hot for employees and organizations still need highly effective agencies.