Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Eye of the Beholder

I’ll never forget the day I walked into the eye doctors office and told him I thought I needed glasses.  This was a major change for me as I was well into adulthood and never previously had any issues with my vision.  I wasn’t having major problems seeing, but I could tell something was off.  It turns out I was having trouble mainly when my eyes were fatigued causing difficulty focusing and seeing clearly when stress and weariness were present.

I’ve often thought of this as a metaphor for what happens to us when we view the world through our difficulties.  It’s easy to become jaded and cynical from our life experiences and allow them to change our view of the world.

How does fatigue correlate to perspective? 

Obviously our view of reality is based somewhat on perspective, but there is an inherent truth that just is regardless of how we perceive it.  Yet we know that our experiences and our evaluation of the same greatly affect our perception of future similar experiences by either reinforcing or disputing our conclusions.  Since we most often like to prove ourselves to be right we search for ways to confirm and support our previous assumptions; thereby solidifying those theories into beliefs.   As soon as we believe something to be a fact, it is very difficult to dispute and at that point it becomes the lens through which we view the entirety of that situation.  We call this process framing and depending on how we arrived at that conclusion our view of the situation can be very different from what really is happening.

Given that we have experienced many years of an economic depression where most corporations have spent year after year doing more with less and taxing their current workforce both physically and mentally, it could be easy to determine that the way things are currently is the new normal.  This can be extremely disheartening for staff already weary of giving their all and realizing that they will not be able to maintain much longer before things start to decline. 

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Corporate leadership can do a couple of things to prevent fatigued staff from becoming despondent during trying times and by doing so can keep work culture positive and progressive.

Try to be cognizant of employees that are exhibiting signs of weariness.  Unfortunately stressors extend beyond the workplace and some families are experiencing more than just an increased workload in their jobs.  Things like illnesses, unemployed spouses, children with difficulties in school, aging parents and financial difficulties wear down employees in in conjunction with the demands they face at work.  If you see an employee is struggling due to strain in their personal life be aware that chronic stress affects the way they will perceive and handle work stress.  Through positive coaching and reframing of work situations you can help struggling staff to maintain a healthy perspective of the demands of their work and assist them in succeeding in meeting those demands.  Not only is this beneficial to the organization but also will significantly support these employees by easing their burden.

Schedule consistent 1:1's.  Regular meetings with staff to discuss current workloads will help leaders to assess when work demands are reaching the maximum capacity for an employee to handle.  This can lead to discussions of prioritizing or delegation of tasks to others with a less demanding work flow.  Support of this nature goes a long way toward increasing employee morale and diffusing feelings of being overwhelmed by demands.  It also fosters loyalty to the organization and positively contributes to the existing work culture.

Stop negativity from spreading. Leadership should be quick to reframe negativity that surfaces by presenting it in the most positive light.  Allowing negativity to flourish allows it to grow to levels that create toxicity in the organizational culture that can quickly blow small stressors way out of proportion.  We have all seen small things become so large in the eyes of staff that they become triggers for turn-over.   Why is this a problem?  Your best employees will be the quickest to retain employment elsewhere.

It’s Your Turn:

Is your staff showing signs of exhaustion?  What are some things that you do to alleviate the pressures and help them to see through a more positive lens?

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  1. I found this post well thought out and well researched! Good job! This is Jennice, your SITStah!

  2. Fatigue is a real productivity killer. When I'm feeling it, I just have to force myself to take a breather. Thank you for the kind words about my blog! Yours is very informative, looking forward to reading more. Love that quote from RWE.

  3. Thank you for the compliments SITStahs! I'm having some comment trouble or I would reply to you both individually.

    I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your insights :)

  4. I like what you were saying about framing. How we have a theory or idea then look for ways to prove we are right, determine it to be fact and then view from that perspective from now on. That could be ver dangerous unles we start out with theories and ideas that are uplifiting and positive. For example If I have the idea that I am blessed then look for was to prove it, determine it to be a fact, and then view life from that perspecitve it could be a very positive and optimistic experiene. However if I start out with the opposite idea that I am cursed the result could be disastrous and the foundation for a depressing life.

    thank you for sharing :-)

  5. I have finally admitted that I need to see the eye doctor, which was a great opening to your post!

    I know someone whose health has deteriotated quite a bit in the past few years and she seems worried that she may lose her job. I've seen other women who can't move, learn, or react as quick as they used to now that they are of a more mature age. The sense I get from them is a quiet desperation to make it through each day and not get laid off.

    If more corporations tried the approach you suggest I think it would do a lot for fear of aging workers.


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