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Stress

What advice would you give your best friend?

What advice would you give your best friend?

by Moyra Mackie on August 21, 2016

Most have us have known that feeling when we’ve got a lot on our plates; challenging targets, multiple demands (often a combination of work and home) and tight deadlines.

Yet sometimes this just helps us focus; makes us resourceful, creative, efficient. We’re resilient in the face of pressure.

Sometimes it does the opposite. We feel stuck; as if we’re going to fail at something (possibly lots of things). The pressure overwhelms us.

The impact of Control, Choices and Competence – or lack of it

I held an interactive webinar for the Time to Think group on Facebook to find out what caused them stress and how they dealt with it. Reflecting on the experiences and wisdom, I asked myself what they all had in common.

This is when those three Cs seemed significant.  Pressure is a form of stimulation, which we can use to help us, just as long as we think we have at least one (preferably two) of those elements.

I think that unconsciously we ask ourselves:

  • Do I feel as if I’m control?
  • Do I think I have choices?
  • Do I believe I have the skills to complete the multiple demands being thrown at me?

Notice the role of our emotions, thoughts and beliefs

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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It should come as a surprise to nobody that work can stress us out. Stress isn’t always bad; stress can motivate us, and help us prepare for the unexpected.

However, chronic stress can have a dire impact on our personal well-being — which can in turn impact the performance of our business or organization. This is what we call organizational stress, and it should come with a toll big enough to grab the attention of employees and managers alike.

The high costs of high stress

When we’re stressed out, it can tax our bodies and minds to surprising lengths. Organizational stress has been demonstrated to increase costs through higher health benefit payouts, more absenteeism, higher turnover, and increased workers’ compensation claims.

Researchers estimate that the combined cost of employee stress in the United States rounds out to around $300 billion per year. Regardless of your workplace’s management style, this fact alone should make stress management a priority for everyone involved in your organization — and this begins with effective management.

Management strategies to reduce organizational stress

Managers have the power to reduce stress in a number of ways, and it all starts with open lines of communication. (And this means much more than a passive ‘open door policy’.) Leaders need to regularly reach out with employees to share ideas, concerns, and constructive feedback.

They should not only measure and facilitate performance, but also resolve obstacles and other everyday stressors that might impede an employee’s workday. Employers can also reduce stress by offering greater flexibility, ample rewards, and motivational strategies.

The infographic below, produced for the Online MBA Program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, illustrates the impact that organizational stress can have on businesses, and what we can do about it to make employees happier and more productive at work.
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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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As a coach, clients ask me into their business to help them get better at what they do. Whether it’s an individual leader, a team or even a whole company, these clients are always interested in improvement.

Most of the time they’re pretty successful (sometimes extremely successful) but they’re looking for something a little bit extra. Some of them realise that what got them to this point may not get them to where they really want to be.

At the beginning big nouns are bandied about: “leadership”, “engagement”, “collaboration.”  I know that big consultancies make big money from trying to grapple with big nouns.

Perhaps foolishly, I start with a few small verbs. Because that literally is where the action is.

There are three verbs – three actions – that guarantee improvement

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Mindfulness:  powerful coaching for the mind?

Mindfulness: powerful coaching for the mind?

by Moyra Mackie on February 27, 2016

This week my much beloved, but aging, Mini Cooper helped me to find a moment of true quiet and stillness by letting me down.

As I left my car to be repaired, I dreaded what I felt was a long walk into town.  I was conscious of my laptop weighing heavily in my bag, alongside a feeling of uncertainty about spending a day working out of a coffee shop, unsure of how long or how expensive my wait would turn out to be.

I had so much to do, I hadn’t time to slow down

I resigned myself to a walk along a busy road, when I noticed that I could take a short cut along the canal.  This was a bit better.

As I turned onto the canal tow path and headed away from the road I realised that even though I’d lived in this town for more than twenty years, I’d never walked along this stretch before.

I began to notice what a nice day it was

Crisply cold in the shade and unexpectedly warm in the puddles of sunlight. I was all by myself.  I began to enjoy the sight of the tiny gardens of the cottages that backed onto the canal.  A strong contrast to the blue metal industrial buildings on the other side.

The further I walked, the quieter it became, the less I noticed the weight of my laptop

Then I saw a tiny wooden bridge that led from the canal, over a stretch of water and onto a little lane that would take me into town.  Thanks to a sign put up by the town council, I discovered that the water was “an artificial lake” that covered an area that used to be a thriving watercress field in Victorian times.  Watercress was grown and transported all over England using canal transport or the newly built railway.

Still thinking about this – and how much the town had changed – I stepped onto the bridge.  And stopped.

What I could see was beautiful.  read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

by Tim Wayne on February 14, 2016

If you’ve ever hated being stuck in a cubicle farm or became annoyed with the distractions of an open office, it turns out that you’ve got a great reason to complain.

Office design does more than just the shape our place of work – it can also shape employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. When your workplace doesn’t meet your psychological needs, it can be devastating to your productivity.

Your work environment can make you happy (or stress you out)

According to environmental psychology, or the study on the relationship between people and their surroundings, a work space can inspire workers to be creative and happy or stress them out.

While the impact of office design on productivity is more obvious when issues like lighting, ventilation, and noise pollution are the problems, it can also harm morale when workplaces don’t offer employees enough freedom in when, where, and how they work.

Innovative design can help create an innovative workforce

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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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What gifts are you mindlessly throwing away?

What gifts are you mindlessly throwing away?

by Moyra Mackie on October 17, 2015

When I left work at 7pm on Friday night, it was already dark. Outside, it seemed that everybody’s weekend had begun except mine.

I’d been in a team meeting all day and had spent the last hour frantically trying to catch up on important mails that had arrived during the day.  I was in the middle of negotiating a large contract and I felt overwhelmed and frustrated by the paperwork and the process.

My mind was everywhere except in the present

I got into my car, with my mind racing, half wishing the weekend away so that I could get back to untangling the bureaucratic threads.

At least I didn’t have to cook dinner when I got home, as my husband had ordered a takeaway for me to pick up on the way home.  I stopped first to buy a bottle of wine to go with it.

As I reached the check out, my head was still full of work

I scarcely noticed the cashier until the card machine failed to work.  Three or four attempts by the young woman to reset the machine failed and I stood waiting, aware of a growing queue behind me.

Eventually she asked her colleague, who pointed out that she had missed a basic step in allowing card payments.  She blushed and apologised.   In that moment I was conscious of feeling angry at the large supermarket chain for throwing young workers in front of customers without adequate training.

But just as quickly another thought entered my head. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

by Moyra Mackie on August 24, 2015

“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”

~ Daniel Quinn, The Story of B

Whilst German scientists in the 1880s found it was indeed possible to very gradually heat water until the poor amphibians expired, I think it’s a warning and challenge to all leaders who want to stay successful.

How warm is the water in your organisation?

According to The Economist, the average life expectancy of public companies shrank from 65 years in the 1920s, to less than ten in the 1990s. Whilst a golden parachute might break the fall, life in the C-suite is becoming ever more precarious. In just ten years the average CEO tenure has fallen from 8.1 to 6.3 years and is getting shorter all the time.

Managers at all levels are expected to do more with fewer resources in a lot less time

If they’re successful, next year they will be bench-marked against that success – if they’re lucky. If they’re not so lucky, they might be given a “stretch goal”.

In addition, technology has led to an expectation that they should be available 24/7. Reacting quickly is rewarded.

Everything is measured, all the time

I’m old enough to remember a workplace where we had five year goals. (And no, that was not Soviet Russia.)

Now we have staff on monthly goals, managers anxiously watching weekly targets and lots of people paying attention to the end of every quarter. Not to mention that we have pipelines and magnets for talent and nine boxes for all our human capital.

We even measure happiness – or engagement – and we find that’s the one thing going down.

Has your water heated up and you just haven’t noticed?

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Dealing with stress: Africa unplugged

Dealing with stress: Africa unplugged

by Moyra Mackie on September 1, 2014

In a few days’ time I will be sitting on that seat, by that fire.

In a few days’ time I will be back in Zimbabwe, the land of my birth.

As I listen to the traffic outside my office window, it’s almost impossible to imagine sitting round a campfire in a place that is only accessible by boat or plane.  A place where rush hour means the dawn and dusk ritual of animals coming down to the river to feed.

A place without the internet or a reliable mobile phone connection

I realise that this will be the first time for a very long time that  I will really and truly be unplugged.

In 1989 I spent six months backpacking through Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town.  No phone, no web, no social media.  There were weeks at a time when my family back home had no idea who I was travelling with or even which country I was in.

In 1989 I took that freedom for granted.  Now I worry about not being able to speak to my kids or check my email for a few days.

Which got me thinking about what being connected and available 24/7 does to me, does to us

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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If Yoda can take a vacation, so can you. So can I.

If Yoda can take a vacation, so can you. So can I.

by Moyra Mackie on August 3, 2013

“Switching off.  Getting away from it all. Having a holiday. Taking a vacation.”

However you phrase it, it’s that time of year again.

Daily there are articles about Americans not taking all their vacation time, and just as many asserting what the dangers of not letting go of the office might mean.

As a small company owner, I’ve found myself justifying my constant connections with work, wherever I am in the world, as necessary to the survival of my business.

I’ve developed a habit that comforts me that I’m indispensable

Until my indispensability was challenged by infrastructure.  Or rather the lack of it.
read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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