Tag Archives: stress

Busy Managers Least Effective

So reads the headline of a recent article posted on the CrimsonBusiness web site (view original article Here).

Here is an excerpt from the article that makes sober reading:

“Busy managers are inefficient because they remain focused on performing tasks and rarely get an overview of what their team is doing,” said Jacobs. “With these kind of people it’s not unusual to see staff sitting around with nothing to do, while their manager is racing around stressed out.

“An effective manager delegates as much as they can to their team, and invests all the time they release into developing that team. Overall it becomes a machine that’s driven to meet goals, with the manager turning into a true leader.”

Jacobs advised managers to be willing to delegate tasks without abdicating responsibility for them, as willing being on hand to review objectives and offer support.

He said it was very important to give clear and specific instructions when delegating and a failure to do so was the most common reason for problems arising.

Wow!  What earth shattering news!  Is common sense really so scarce in the business world these days that an article like this needs to be written? 

If it is then we’re in serious trouble.

I believe that it’s not only those managers who are overly busy that suffer.  Research conducted in the 1980’s showed that as a person took on an additional role, their efficiency at both jobs was greatly reduced.  There were also arguments for keeping people management and project management roles separated, partly for the efficiency reason but also because the skills required for the two roles are very different.  One involves objects and processes; the other involves human beings (who, though it may come as a shock to some, are NOT processes; neither are they objects … resources!).  Although people can be stretched, they are not as resilient as many materials and do snap, at which stage repair is a long, difficult and costly business for all concerned.

How many people do we know who are actually good at both jobs?  I suspect that the answer is, ‘Very few’.  Yet today it is commonplace for people to be split across multiple roles, in multiple divisions and to assume responsibility for people care.

People this does not work!

Not only do we end up with over busy managers, but we also have demoralised staff and I would argue that this is a deadly combination.

Perhaps it’s not just the busyness that is the problem, but the nature and the diversity of that busyness.

The problem is that jumping off this accelerating treadmill is a risk that could prove costly, but until people are prepared to take that risk, we chart a course to increasing inefficiency, stress and confusion and we chart a course to slow (or not so slow) self-destruction.

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What are the Benefits of Building Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence?

In short, many!!

But let’s start by considering what we will avoid. 

When we are continually dragged down by low self-esteem and low self-confidence the impact is much wider than our work; it affects our whole life!

Biologically, our bodies set-up defence mechanisms against infection to keep us healthy, but the prolonged stress caused by poor self-image counteracts those mechanisms and renders us more susceptible to infection.

In addition, prolonged secretion of hormones and other natural chemicals which usually help us maintain good health, become imbalanced all over the body.

  • We suffer skin rashes and conditions such as eczema
  • Our breathing suffers and we can precipitate asthma
  • The lining which protects our stomach from the acid it contains erodes and eventually the acid digests our stomach tissues leading to ulcers
  • Other digestive disorders
  • Heart conditions
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • … etc.

The emotional drain can

  • Lead to bouts of low mood
  • Precipitate full-blown depressive illness

The severe lack of confidence affects everything we do … 

  • We become less inclined to try anything new (or even continue doing what we are doing)
  • We hide ourselves away as a defence mechanism, trying to avoid the possibility of anything else that may reinforce the low self-image and pain we feel
  • We become less inclined to go out, either for exercise or to be sociable.

So the detrimental effects can be catastrophic on a personal and professional level.

Confident people with a good level of self-esteem are less prone to the above list of horrors (although as with all things, over-confidence and inflated levels of self-importance can also be detrimental to our own health and the health of others). 

When we are confident, we are more likely to

  • Think clearly
  • Contribute ideas to discussions and meetings
  • Be able to speak candidly about serious issues affecting us or our workplace
  • Help each other
  • Be more creative and innovative.

Creativity and innovation are clearly more complex entities than simply being a function of our self-confidence or self-esteem.  They involve different patterns of thinking and assembly of ideas, but they are much more likely to occur where we can interact with others, openly, candidly, confidently.

In my next post I’ll be looking at a few ways in which we can start to build self-esteem in others and how that affects our living and working environments.

Creativity: The Other Global Crisis

Perhaps one of the most eloquent and engaging speakers I have heard is Sir Ken Robinson. he has this style which instantly puts one at ease whilst totally drawing us in to what he has to say. If you want an example, pour yourself a coffee and Watch Ken Robinson Talk to see him in action (opens in a new window … use the ‘Close Window’ button after viewing).

In one of his more recent appearances he continued to present some uncomfortable facts which will impact us all unless things change. Here is a sample of out-takes from his talk. Full article here (opens in a new window).

  • The world is facing a crisis of human resources … “I believe that fundamentally we have both underestimated and continue to misuse – if not actually abuse – many of our most important talents; our talents, our children’s talents, and the talents of the people who work with us. And unless we fix [this crisis], I feel we’re not going to make much progress fixing the other one.”
  • Both crises are the result of our “industrial mindset,” which is incompatible with modern society and modern business. Both manifest themselves in terms of imbalances. In the natural world it is the imbalance of gases in our atmosphere, although human activity is also disrupting many other ecosystems. In society we have legions of people dislocated from their own talents, legions of people suffering from all kinds of anxiety, legions of people in dysfunctional communities. And there is an enormous cost of handling this.
  • In California (Robinson’s new home town) spends $3.5bn a year on the state university system; it spends $9.9bn on the state prison system. Similar figures exist for other Western countries, as well as other US states. The UK spends millions of pounds a year on remedial education, to try to get kids through a system which many of them are bucking against. And we spend millions of pounds a year on career counselling, because people have not found their way.
  • The result for educators, employers and HR professionals is that it is vital to have an understanding of “the ecology of human resources.
  • As a society, we must improve our understanding of human capabilities. We believe mistakenly that creativity and intelligence vary in inverse proportion to one another. The things we take for granted as being true are the real problem; the enemy of making the best of ourselves is common sense.
  • Thankfully creativity is not dead but merely latent, in most adults.
  • Work by Land and Jarman showed that in a smaple of 1,500 children aged 3-5, 98% ranked as “geniuses” in divergent thinking. In children aged between 8 and 10 years the figure fell to just 32% and by the time children had reached between 13 and 15 years it had declined further to a mere 10%. In other words, children become less creative as they grow older. What coincides with this period of development, aside from hormonal changes and socialisation, is that they enter formal education where they have learnt a) there is one answer to every question, b) don’t look, because that’s cheating and c) don’t copy from anybody else, because that’s cheating too … even though outside of school we call this collaboration.
  • This mindset goes well beyond school and college. Land and Jarman also performed a control test of two-thousand adults (aged 25+) where only 2% ranked as geniuses. We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it, because of the ways in which we become institutionalised and socialised. Education is a big piece of this, but work is an even bigger piece.
  • Creativity is most frequently associated, in the workplace, with innovation but it is equally important in helping society cope with, and harness, technological advances. No matter what we do or where we do it, technology is going to swamp us: new information systems are going to subvert all the things we take for granted.
  • The over-25s think we’re OK, but we’re not that great. We have learnt digital technology like a second language, so we kind of speak phrasebook digital compared with our children. IT systems are becoming more and more pervasive, but they’re not fundamentally avoiding the powerful need for better and better use of human resources. To the contrary. Human resource is the only way we can engage with these things properly … and at this moment we are locked into an industrial mindset about our own capabilities.
  • Business people can help to nurture creativity and imagination by thinking of organisations as organisms rather than organisations A better metaphor is from agriculture. A farmer can’t make a plant grow. A plant grows itself. A good farmer provides the conditions for growth. And a great plant doesn’t just grow from the top, it grows everywhere simultaneously, as do healthy organisations, which have a reciprocating relationship among the parts.
  • There is a huge difference between a creative team and a committee: great creative teams require real expertise among managers and leaders to work. It’s a skill-set that we need to be teaching managers and leaders.
  • Great teams, large or small, are deliberately diverse: they have people from different backgrounds, experiences, ages and responsibilities in the organisation. The processes employed by these teams ensure that their diversity is not an impediment but a resource.
    The best senior managers are those who are not afraid to let teams congregate for specific tasks and then disband, to form other teams as necessary, perhaps one of the best ways to spread cultural information around the organisation.
  • It is essential to create the right habitat, in terms of culture and environment. Anyone who is serious about making more of people must be serious about the environment in which they work. And not just the colour of the walls: innovative organisations have a rigorous approach to questioning algorithms of behaviour and changing the environment as need be.
    Challenging stuff.

What I think is obvious is that we have a long way to go. BUT we need to make a start, no matter how small to change the inertia of creative decline. and just perhaps some of our organisations and social structures will be rebuilt into healthy living cultures.

Until next time …

 
My Zimbio

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