Afraid to Manage Your Staff Because You Know Too Much?

Sometimes, the more you know about your staff’s personal lives, the harder it is to hold them accountable. In this podcast, Kathi and Katherine discuss how challenging it can be to hold employees responsible for their work product, when you know too much about their challenges outside of work.

The Importance of Not Being a Stressor for Other People: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 9

Kathi and Katherine talk about stressors on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

What is the importance of not being a stressor for other people?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

#16: Accountability Without Added Stress – My Crazy Office, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about accountability and stress on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to a manager on how to hold staff accountable without adding stress.

Then we discuss how employees can set limits at work.

Stress Management Strategies: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about stress management on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How are you managing stress during these very stressful times?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

The Importance of Being Present

With all of the upheaval and uncertainty we are facing, it can be more challenging than ever to be in the present moment. With the threat of another wave of COVID-19, with the death and losses already endured from the virus, with the pain and outrage over police brutality and the many forms of institutional racism that plague our communities, our emotions are running at a high pitch. Our minds either race forward to predict outcomes or look back to assign blame. 

No matter how angry or sad or anxious you are, coming into the present moment can help.

Being in the present moment gives us the chance to take a break from projecting forward with catastrophic images, from obsessing about what is coming. Being present creates the space to feel our feelings, breathe into our bodies, and slow down the racing mind. 

Being present is not a solution to the many challenges that lie ahead, but it is a tool for managing our feelings and projections more effectively, so that we can take constructive actions in the short term. 

If, for example, you find yourself constantly worried about the future of your industry or concerned about losing your job, being present can give you the headspace to examine the reality of your current situation – exactly what is happening – and generate a list of small actions that you can take to protect yourself right now.  

How do we bring ourselves into the present moment?

  • Breathe – Check your breath right now. Is it shallow or deep? Is it fast or slow? Are your chest and shoulders tight or loose? Can you feel your stomach going in and out? Breathing slowly, deeply, consciously for 5 – 10 breaths will do more than anything to take you out of your head and put you into your body. Regular deep breathing will take your mind out of obsessing about tomorrow and into dealing with today. 
  • Exercise— We’ve said it before and will say it again, exercise is a great way to move the emotional and mental energy in your body, to release tension and stress, and to ground you in the present moment. The more wound up you feel, the more you will need to exercise. Run, walk, do video workouts, try yoga, play a sport – if any of these options work for you, make sure to do them.
  • Take an inventory – This tried and true technique for getting out of your head and coming into the present moment involves answering five questions that examine your current reality and clarify your options: What’s happening here (what is the story that has you emotionally wound up)? What are the facts? What is beyond my control? What is in my control? What are my options?
  • Meditate – Meditation is not about rising above what’s happening, it’s about learning to sit with whatever feelings and thoughts you have so that they aren’t just surging through your body creating discomfort. You can try meditating on your own or enlist the help of an app like Headspace, Calm, or 10% Happier. Whatever form of meditation you attempt will help usher in the present moment.

As we venture back to work, as we contend with the many public health, economic and societal challenges ahead, it is worthwhile to make a concerted effort to stay in the present moment as often as possible. By grounding ourselves in the present moment, and making short term plans, we can turn sadness into compassion, anger into activism, and anxiety into constructive planning.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

The Importance of Praise

This is a stressful time. As we continue to live with uncertainty, nerves can fray, hope can turn to fear, and disappointment can turn to deep sadness and depression. As the weeks of our pandemic quarantine pass, our initial response of being on our best behavior may be giving way to more normal reactions to work annoyances and unrealistic expectations. 

So, without sounding sappy – and those who know me know I’m not sappy – what if we all tried to be nicer to one another? I’m talking about kindness and respect. There may be certain days where remembering to be nice to your co-workers, clients, vendors or management could pose a challenge, but you can forgive yourself for those days and start again tomorrow.

What takes a few seconds to do could make someone’s day. You have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives so just be nice, it’s that simple.

Consider the following:

  • How about asking everyone you come in contact with – “How is your day going?” And wait for their answer.  Let’s go a little deeper than the usual, exchange of “How are you?” “Fine.” 
  • When on a Zoom call, why not say, “You look good today.” Then wait to see the other person smile.
  • Reach out to people via text, phone or email and say – “I was thinking about you” especially to those co-workers who live alone.
  • Take a moment to tell your coworkers, “Nice job on that project.” Of course, you do need to mean it.  Acknowledging the effort someone puts into their work can help them feel good – especially during these difficult days.
  • Practice saying, “Thank you,” even for the small things. Most of the time, we don’t need to thank others daily.  We’re usually working at a fast pace, moving from one thing to the next. Offering an unexpected “Thank you,” can create a much-needed positive moment in someone’s day.
  • When in a virtual or in-person meeting try saying, “I appreciate your input.” So often we don’t take the time to acknowledge the ideas that other people contribute. Whether we use that input or not, praising another person for their ideas helps them flourish and get better at offering ideas over time.

I know that not all corporate cultures will find these practices comfortable, so pick and choose wisely.  But kindness and praise never hurt anyone, so give it a try.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Is Someone Getting on Your Last Nerve?

My husband was noticeably irritated with me last night. He said that I was “yawn talking.” Do you know what yawn talking is? It’s when you keep talking even as you yawn. Apparently, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and it’s extremely annoying.

My initial reaction after being accused of “yawn talking,” was to strike back. If I do that, then he “burp talks.” But that isn’t really the point. The point is, we’ve been sheltering in place for too long, and we’re getting on each other’s nerves. Critical words, verbal tics, grating habits, and nonverbal gestures that we might normally have shrugged off are getting to us.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard numerous complaints from my clients about other people’s bad behavior. It could be a boss who is making more-than-usual unreasonable demands. A family member who is acting out. A coworker who is chronically late – even for Zoom meetings. Perhaps you have an upstairs neighbor who is playing loud music or moving furniture late at night.

None of these may be new behaviors, but they feel more irritating today. It’s the emotional by-product of extended captivity in the name of staying safe.

If your nerves are frayed, your temper is quick, and you feel overly reactive to the behavior of others, you are not alone. The question is, what can we do to calm our systems down?

Here are a few tips:

Shift your energy – I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Confined living creates pent up energy which needs to be released one way or another. Run, jog, dance, squirm, have a pillow fight, take a bath, step outside, take ten deep breaths. Do something to shift the energy and relax your system. The more rigorous the movement, the better the release.

Ask yourself, “how important is it?” – If someone criticizes you, interrupts you, ignores you, makes a sarcastic remark, or offends you in some way, try to pause and ask yourself if it’s worth getting upset about. Is this a matter of life or death? Is your welfare truly threatened by this person/event/remark?

Let someone talk you off of the ledge – Sometimes you may know that you are over-reacting but you can’t help yourself. At these times, it’s smart to call a trusted friend or confidante, voice your complaint, and let them calm you down.

Try to find the humor – This isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. I am forever grateful to those people who can find the humor in difficult moments. Laughter relaxes the nervous system and puts small problems in their proper perspective. If you can find what’s funny in a tense exchange, both parties will benefit.

There is no miracle cure for our frayed nerves at this time. We don’t know exactly when we will be less confined, more mobile, less fearful. While we do our best to manage our lives during the pandemic, let’s all commit to doing what we can to soothe our over-worked nerves.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Dealing with Uncertainty

Without question, these are uncertain times. Daily routines, work lives, economic conditions and social lives have been uprooted and disrupted. Homes now serve as offices, school rooms, infirmaries, and personal gyms. We don’t know when we will get our normal lives back again.
Because there is so much we can’t control at this time, it’s important to notice and act on the things that we can. The following are things you can do to calm your nervous system, take control of your environment, and deal with these uncertain times in a constructive manner:
• Create order in small areas that you can control
Uncertainty can feel chaotic. To manage the chaos, it’s important to take small actions that provide order to your life: Get up at a regular hour, make your bed, dress for work, continue your workout routine (even if you have to modify it), plan meals, coordinate with family members when scheduling your day.
• Do things to calm your nervous system
Think of your emotions as energy-in-motion. To release anxiety, you want to do things that let the energy of anxiety move through your body. Physical activity or home workouts can really help here. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are also good. Activities like cooking, singing, playing music, playing games, making art or building things can help your brain relax.
• Stay informed but don’t drown in information
Uncertainty makes us crave control. One way you may strive for control is by tracking every piece of news that comes out about CoVid-19 on social media, online news, or TV. Information overload will make you more anxious, not less. Limits on news consumption (checking in the morning, mid-day, and at end of day) will help your brain rest – which it needs to come up with clever solutions to uncertain times.
• Look for ways to be of service
Helping, assisting, caring for others is a very concrete tool for calming your mind and lifting your spirits during times of uncertainty. With social distancing and self-quarantining, the kind of help you can offer may not be “hands on” but it still counts. Phone calls to people living alone or elderly friends/family can make a difference. Video chats with friends who need to connect. Cooking meals for others that can be dropped at their homes. Reach out in some way, and offer to help. It will give you a sense of purpose and control.
• Work at being present
Being present means you are not running forward trying to predict the worst-case scenario nor are you glancing backward focusing on what you, your business, or your government should have done differently. Being present means you look at where you are today, appreciate what you have, and take small, concrete actions to live your life as well as you can. Being present can be very challenging during uncertain times, but it allows you to deal with the current reality from a non-hysterical place.
• Practice gratitude for simple things

Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools you can use during uncertain times. Gratitude allows you to see what you have and what’s working rather than focusing on what you may lose and what isn’t working. You can be grateful for your food, your morning cup of coffee, your smart phone, your bed. List three things you are grateful at the beginning of every day and share that list with a friend.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co with any questions or for further help around this topic.