You leapt into 2022 with optimism, but quick as a flash, last year’s funk started creeping back. While navigating an ever-changing COVID environment, it’s easy to feel in a constant state of flux. Coordinating your team seems near-impossible. Your off-days turn into weeks, into months... Don’t you just long to escape the crippling work funk?
In the wake of the pandemic, company-wide changes and regulations may be inevitable, but you can navigate them with ease this 2022. It’s not the changes that can sucker-punch you, it’s how you choose to react to them. Responding to uncertainty consciously and mindfully will have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing – then in turn – your team and work performance.
As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When you take a step back, reassess and plan smarter, things will get better. From being strategic with your time to empowering your team, here we share eight incredible ways you can reenergise yourself personally and professionally this year and flip that funk to focus.
1 Look after number one
It goes without saying, right? Yet in the midst of work chaos, it’s easy to forget about yourself. Australian charity Beyond Blue published a report on mental health in the workplace. It concluded that one in five Australians have taken time off in the last 12 months because they felt stressed or mentally unwell.
As a leader or manager in a senior role, the burden is on you to support and guide your team. If you’re struggling, they will too. Take some serious time out to consider what it is you’re lacking the most. Do you need better sleep? Are you solely running on caffeine? Are you skipping lunch breaks to cram more in?
Small goals like getting more shut-eye by going to bed earlier or feeling less jittery by reducing your coffee intake may go a long way when you’re trying to fit in more physical and mental balance in your working life. When your head’s clearer you’ll gain clarity on exactly how to move forward.
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t just be work-related too. Don’t forget to schedule in enjoyable activities into your diary that allow to you either let off steam or decompress.
2 Future-proof your plans
It’s the same old story, you craft new strategies only for the goalposts to move again meaning it’s back to the drawing board. The key to planning smartly is to create a roadmap that allows space for bumps along the way.
Define your goals and set a clear direction but allow for any potential variables that may arise, so you stay firmly on course. Assess what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t, while trying to anticipate what may lay ahead. To streamline your planning process, consider smart methodologies like Agile. Working by breaking projects up into small phases, and involving constant collaboration from all parties, Agile is dynamic and allows for change.
3 Make time firmly on your side
If juggling leadership meetings with team training and staff interviews leaves you with no room to come up for air, it’s time to make time work for you. Be strategic in cultivating a fresh working routine that allows you to accomplish your weekly tasks without entering meltdown mode. Manage your time effectively and you will witness a reduction in stress levels, elevated productivity, and fewer missed deadlines.
And the secret to streamlining your workflow? Dedicate a distraction-free window where emails, calls and social media are verboten. Think Money’s survey revealed that workplace distractions lead to the loss of 759 hours of working time a year! Imagine what else you can achieve in that time.
Consider ditching the multi-tasking and focus solely on one thing. A study by David Strayer, director of the University of Utah’s applied cognition lab shows that only 2% of people can actually multitask effectively anyway, and let’s face it, it’s sadly unlikely you’re in that tiny percentage.
Finally, manage your time better by coordinating similar tasks. For instance, dedicate a two-hour window to reading and replying to emails rather incessantly checking your inbox throughout the day.
4 Celebrate your accomplishments…and small wins!
When you actually have a moment to pause and reflect, you’ll probably find you and your team are actually doing pretty well! Try monitoring your goals by creating digital success charts that you and the team can access at any time. These will keep you on point with reaching company goals.
Small wins, no matter how insignificant they seem, matter. All progress is good and taking time to acknowledge and enjoy it is a priceless morale boost. You could create a team group chat on social media to share positive stories and reactions. You can start a team rewards initiative, put together a celebratory playlist for the workspace. Be creative in how you choose to celebrate both you and your team’s work wins.
5 Empower your team to have a happy work-life balance
It’s official; when your team has a good work-life balance, every metric improves. From staff retention rates and more engagement to fewer health problems (one UCL study revealed workers that worked three or more hours overtime had a 60% increase in heart problems), when your team has enough time to disconnect from the workplace, things get better – for them and you.
By arming them with the tools and flexibility they need to cultivate a balanced work-home life, you are empowering them to make choices that will benefit themselves. You could try encouraging non-work-related breaks throughout the day. If your business allows it, perhaps offer flexible remote working on certain days. Make productivity and working smarter rather than harder and longer the focus.
Above all, a well-balanced, engaged team results in a more well-balanced you, and this is your key funk-extraction motivation!
6 Set boundaries around your team’s performance
“Why doesn’t my team function like a well-oiled machine?!” we hear you cry. In times of stress (and yes, the past two years have been stress-laden) leaders need to be accommodating with their staff, but this often means them (that means you) shouldering that stress too. Then productivity slows, deadlines get missed and generally the wheels start to fall off.
So everyone is on the same page and expectations are managed and met, consider setting boundaries. Regular communication is vital, think; weekly or fortnightly meetings where business goals can be set. Clarify your team members’ roles and responsibilities on an individual basis. It’s a good idea to open a dialogue with them so they’re able to share their feelings and thoughts too.
If you’re able to, why not delegate more? Feelings of funk can often come from being overwhelmed and an effective leader should be able to trust their team and harness its strengths.
7 Evaluate your team’s strengths and skills
Working in tandem with tip six is putting yourself in your team member’s shoes to establish what they need to perform well, succeed, and operate within those all-important boundaries. As all good leaders know, this requires listening.
Why not schedule meetings with team members individually to ask them about, well, them! What workplace challenges do they face? What do they need from you to perform at their best? What do they feel are their top strengths and skills? What does success mean to them?
By getting a holistic picture of your team members it is easier to identify where they shine and in what areas of the business they can be best utilised. Other ways you could evaluate your teams’ strengths include exercises or tasks, consulting with clients, partners, and other senior management. Finally, regularly monitor how well they perform in their teams, not just individual performance.
8 Create opportunities to have fun at work
Since we’re discussing ways to elevate mood and mental health, the power of having fun at work shouldn’t be underestimated. The stats don’t lie: Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California did a meta-analysis of 225 different academic studies. The results revealed that happy employees on average have 31% higher productivity; their sales are 37% higher, and their creativity is three times higher.
When it comes to injecting some jollity into the workplace, choose ways to do it authentically yet professionally. Make everyone’s birthday a milestone to be celebrated. Even though you may be social distancing, keep the good vibes rolling with laughter, compliments, and gratitude. Let everyone rotate their favourite radio stations or Spotify playlists. Schedule regular after-hours social events to nurture friendships and bonding. If your work permits it, why not get the beers in on Friday afternoons?
Transforming your workplace into a fun place will pay dividends for your team’s state of mind, while you can ease yourself out of that funk that was so last year.
Prioritise your own personal wellbeing by making conscious changes that serve you.
Create future plans that are adaptable and allow for change.
Manage your time more strategically.
Celebrate your personal accomplishments and team success.
Allow your team to have a better work-life balance.
Define boundaries and manage expectations about team performance.
Evaluate your team members’ strengths.
Create fun opportunities for your team to bond and relax at work.
Do you need help with hiring? Then contact a labour hire recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group to receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.