Supporting the Manager’s Mental Health in a Hybrid Workplace
Have you read this article? Your boss secretly wants to quit. Business leaders can’t take COVID-19 work life anymore – The Globe and Mail
In this article published July 15, 2021, it is reported that “just over half of the 1,100 business and public sector leaders questioned, from organizations including Bell Canada, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the University of Toronto, revealed they are contemplating leaving their roles, and almost a quarter are considering resigning outright. Many more are thinking of moving to a less demanding position or retiring….After 16 months of high-adrenaline, high-strain work, leaders and managers are flat-out exhausted.”
You cannot refer to any news channel, social media chain, or business article without the discussion about employee mental health as the second pandemic. It seems though that the articles are ignoring the struggle of managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in organizations that also are experiencing high levels of stress.
In a recent Manager Mental Health Training provided to municipality managers by Gowan Consulting, the participants were surprised to be asked what they need to feel supported in this pandemic. Managers are expected to be strong, be positive, and continue to thrive on adrenaline, but we often forget to check in with our leaders and managers as well.
“I am finding that I am tired and my emotions are all over the place. How can I manage my own self care when I have so much responsibility at home and at work?”
How do you ensure that your leaders and supervisors have the skills to manage their mental health?
We have highlighted the importance of having a psychological safe and healthy workplace, but usually this considers strategies for managers to support employees. Richard McLean, Senior Director at Elsevier Connect, suggests asking your team members a series of 7 questions and rating them from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” to measure psychological safety: Why not ask these questions of your manager?
- If I make a mistake in this team, it is held against me as a manager.
- Managers of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
- People on this team sometimes reject the manager for being different.
- It is safe to take a risk in this team as a manager.
- As a manager, it is difficult to ask other members of this team for help.
- No one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts as a manager.
- Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized as a manager.
What are the strategies for manager mental health?
When life gets stressful, we may forget or neglect to take care of ourselves. Building self-care into your daily or weekly routine can improve resilience and prevent burnout. One way to ensure that we continue to focus on self-care during stressful periods is to create a self-care and resilience plan! Use this resource to map out how and when to use self-care practices and resilience building strategies.
Set boundaries – Being “ON” all the time is not healthy. When you are experiencing stress, your body goes into overdrive “fight, flight or freeze” mode. It is crucial to have some times to let your body relax or activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Set times in your day to “decompress,” to relax, and to spend time on things that allow you to rejuvenate. As a manager, you could determine that between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm is your me time or family time. You may go back to clean up some emails or work later but preserve some time for you and your family. This is also important to show your team that it is alright to shut down the computer, to spend time for yourself. If you send emails after hours, perhaps you can consider setting the delayed delivery to the next day so that your team does not feel that you need a response after hours.
Learn to ask for help – Delegate at work and at home. Asking for help is one of the most difficult things for many managers to do when they know their team is stressed as well. Using Covey’s prioritization matrix can help you to do important things first and ask for help by delegating to those who can help. Even at home, asking a spouse or children to help temporarily can lighten the load.
Consider setting goals that are manageable – Have you ever created a to do list that seems to never end? Experts in the field of behaviour management have found that setting small manageable SMART goals can help you to get the RIGHT things done. Consider chunking your to do list into goals to ensure that your time is spent wisely. Clarify your priorities – what are the MUST dos instead of the busy dos. Focus on goal-directed to dos.
Give up perfection – Do you feel like you have to be perfect? Remember that perfection is just a distorted goal that keeps us from being who we are. Being a perfectionist can lead to overwork and disappointment and can also reduce your success as a manager. At a leadership meeting, I learned about GETMO (Good Enough To Move On). Research has shown that when we are working on product and service delivery to 100% in this time of innovation and change, you miss the opportunity. 80% done is good enough to move on…work on the 20% once it is being delivered.
Engage in human to human contact – Social connection is vital to every person’s mental health. Who is your support group? How often do you connect? Communicate with your support system and your team often. It is not just about work purpose, but also to connect on social things. Engage, laugh, and connect.
Be open, transparent and vulnerable – Being a leader means allowing others to really be with you and know you for who you are. Being yourself, open, and vulnerable about the changes and how they are affecting you can help your team to do the same. We do not have all the answers…ask your team for help and be transparent about the challenges and successes so that they too can be open and transparent and vulnerable with you.
Watch for the signs of ALL work and NO play – If you are the leader or entrepreneur, working towards your passion is amazing, but sometimes that can lead to workaholic behaviour. Sleep is one of the most important components for managing your stress, your emotions, and your mental health. Take time for rest and relaxation. If your sleep is disrupted, try some sleep hygiene strategies on our YouTube channel.
Don’t personalize the pandemic – Everyone around you is struggling and sometimes the manager can take the brunt of the stress that employees are feeling about the pandemic…it is not about you! It is about listening openly and non-judgmentally but understanding that you cannot control the pandemic. Tough decisions may have to be made for the success of the business.
Self-love and compassion is key – Understand crisis fatigue and how this has impacted your mental health. Here is one of our YouTube videos about crisis fatigue that shows you how to detect the signs of stress and provides ways to assist you with managing your mental health with more self-love and compassion.
Contact your resources – Talk to your organization about what resources you have for caring for your mental health. If you do not have resources, there are currently resources available through the government. Search your mental health resources through the government COVID websites.
Make an appointment with an Occupational Therapist at Gowan Consulting – Our Occupational Therapists can provide you with the tools that you need to improve your mental health and productivity at work. If you are seeing that an employee is struggling, the Occupational Therapist can provide you with an assessment of the employee’s abilities, job demands, and work environment to find the right accommodations in the workplace.
How Can Gowan Consulting Help?
- Join us for the Accommodation and Hybrid Workplace FREE Webinar on September 16, 2021.
2. Make sure that you have signed up for our Manager Mental Health Training Program…. We will cover:
- How to recognize the signs of distress in yourself and others
- How to manage the mental health continuum
- Resiliency strategies and tools – develop a resiliency plan
- How to have good conversations with your employees
- How to give practical tools and adjustments that can help you as a manager and your employees have success through distress
- How to get the resources your team needs to manage this crisis fatigue
- How to manage a hybrid workplace to success
Sign up today! – Isn’t it worth 4 hours of your time?
What Attendees Have to Say:
“There is NO OTHER TRAINING THAT PROVIDES WHAT THIS TRAINING PROVIDES MANAGERS!” – Senior Manager – Library
“The best training I have ever gotten as a manager!” Tech company manager
“This training gave me the tools to manage my mental health AND gave me practical strategies to help my employees” City Manager – Paramedic services
Join us on September 28, 2021. Don’t lose out by waiting. It is ONLY $250! If you have a group of managers that you want to support and you need a session customized to your needs…Contact us to find out how we can support your whole team!
3. Consider Success Coaching from our Occupational Therapists to engage you in strategy setting for your own mental health. Set up a consultation with Nancy Gowan to discuss your current strategy and determine if success coaching is for you.
“Your boss secretly wants to quit. Business leaders can’t take COVID-19 work life anymore,” Tim Kiladze, The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2021, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-your-boss-secretly-wants-to-quit-business-leaders-cant-take-covid-19/
What is Psychological Safety? (FAQ with Management Experts), Hannah Sheehan, Fellow App, August 5, 2021, https://fellow.app/blog/managerchats/what-is-psychological-safety/?utm_campaign=TLDR&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=147627950&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8nep-492b_lde8AuoxUOKD5CosPrI46_1T5-VE3dXpTucFm5_1vgaauWyg-yx5zYvjdwDBwwHlX0bY5hjGEAbcDKQvWA&utm_content=147156165&utm_source=hs_email
Measuring Psychological Safety, Richard McLean, July 20, 2019, https://mcleanonline.medium.com/measuring-psychological-safety-81dd1da91915
Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants: The Secret to Productivity, Carrie Cabral, Shortform, April 5, 2020, https://www.shortform.com/blog/stephen-covey-quadrants-7-habits/
Gowan Consulting YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG3bs0baPdyAICVKSsrH3sQ