Let’s talk about being self-ish.
That is not to say you need to be:
…nor indeed “selfish” as the term is commonly used.
Being self-ish means you need to think about your behaviours, your choices and your needs, because unless you are aware of, and to some extent can exert power over them – you will only ever be reactive to things that happen to you (too low a sense of self), OR isolate the people who might have been your greatest allies (too great a sense of self).
Neither of these outcomes will lead to effective leadership especially when faced with challenge. In the former case your own contribution is so negated that you yourself can become a burden to those you are trying to support, and in the latter you may find you have alienated the people who could have benefitted from your input – and championed you in return. A vicious circle will not only affect your organisation, but your clients as well, especially within care professions where emotional performance is as essential as procedural.
Learning self-compassion – seeing value in your actions and words, knowing you will impact others – is as much about respecting yourself enough to see that you DO have an effect on those around you (yes even remotely!), and it may as well be a positive one!!
1. Assess the level of self-compassion in your team with a “wellbeing audit”
A “safe” environment (even a remote one) - where support and development structures are clear, where executives operate within a friendly network free from harassment or bullying, where responsibility is preferred over blame, is a healthy environment to work, especially when that work involves the welfare of others. While you will have procedures in place (and largely those pertaining to health will be at the fore), carrying out a “safety audit” – an informal (and anonymous) survey – of your organisation may also give you insights with regards to the actual level of perceived wellbeing within your team:
Ask members of your organisation to rate it on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 10 is “very true” and 1 is not “very true”)
· I feel cared about at work
· I feel safe at work
· Work is fun.
· Everyone is treated fairly
· When I succeed or am good at something it is recognised
· I can be myself at work
· This is a friendly workplace
· I find work interesting
· My workplace takes bullying and harassment seriously
· I know how to get help when I am stuck with work.
· My workplace values my opinions.
· I know who talk to if I have a problem.
The answers will give you an insight into how your teams are feeling every day, and if there is a problem potentially open up a dialogue for further investigation and positive action – from a footing that is more reliable than assumption.
2. Encourage an understanding of the value of each other’s roles:
At the start of a collaborative project show teams the outcome and ask them to explain their role in production for example:
One procedure within your service may involve multiple collaborations, actions, forms to complete and sign offs by relevant authorities. By each team taking part of that process explaining their role and their exacting needs, a better appreciation of each element and the importance of following each team’s specifications, requests and time scales is emphasised.
The act of making each person aware of the others’ contributions goes a long way to building an understanding of their demands, and more supportive relationships in practice.
3. If you haven’t already, introduce simple formal self-compassion interventions for your workplace:
· Make sure that your team also know where to signpost their own staff – adding wellbeing pages (like this one!!) to the organisational intranet with links to wider wellbeing events and networks.
· If you are in the workplace and can provide "treats" perhaps have fruit on offer rather than cakes or sweets (and tongs along with sanitiser!!)
· Encourage teams to find out specific needs and suggestions and feedback for action.
4. Encourage teams to recognise and respect their boundaries
In particular (especially in times or pressure) remind teams that quality can be compromised if they spread themselves too thinly. They can still help without saying “yes” all the time.
- Get them to practice saying:
o Of course I can help but I can only do it at X time
o I’m afraid I can’t right now, but X could (and always know how to signpost assistance)
o Here’s one I made earlier (encourage keeping sample templates)
o How would you like me to help you/What do you think is best for me to do/What would be of most help to you at this time? (Ensuring help is most effective)
(or other means of setting boundaries).
Setting boundaries not only protects one’s own emotional strength but makes it clear to others when they are available to help them. Sticking to them as much as possible is part of making a commitment to valuing ones-self and thus preserving performance.
5. Remember that self-compassion can be nurtured through both motivation and relaxation
Some team members relax through taking “time out”, others recharge through purposeful projects and achievements. Have opportunities to support both. For example, lunchtime yoga or a spa break reward may be welcomed by some, but others may prefer a celebration lunch or a newsletter shout out when they have achieved something notable.
Self-compassion helps your teams recognise and respect their personal wellbeing. Through casting a lens on, and improving the actions of your self, you are better able to:
- understand and assert your value within a situation and be most likely to contribute to the solution
- form healthy collaborations which meet your needs and those of your wider community which are long lasting and supportive
- survive crisis, rebuild despite exhaustion and grow.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt