Be Proactive - Covey Habit #1 -part aWritten by Steve Wright
The first Covey Habit is to "be proactive".
Now when I first heard this I thought this basically meant "do stuff". Proactive people to me were people who simply did things rather than sit and watch, they took initiative. So to me this was going to be an easy one, and being first I thought it should be. WRONG!
Proactivity here is about choice. It's about taking initiative to stop - think - choose. The biggest hurdle for most of us is realising we have choice. Covey separates what happens around us from how we react to it. I'll say that again another way, as it is extremely core to chapter and rest of book: Covey separates what happens to us from how we decide to react to it. At first this sounds like a nice concept, but will it work in reality?
Can you believe it, as I try and write this, my son has set two electronic keyboards to continually play random tunes, it is so loud I can hardly think! So what is happening? There is a lot of noise and I am struggling to concentrate. How am I reacting? I could use my power as a parent to tell him to stop it 'daddy is working' or even go over and unplug it. On other hand I could accept he wants to do something with me, talk to him about making a time that works for both of us and ask him to let me finish so we can play together sooner. Maybe he does not realise impact of noise on my concentration. WOW! - would you believe it, he found noise annoying also and has just turned it off himself.
Let's look at this as Covey would. My initial response of "TURN THAT DOWN!!!" is completely reactive. It's second response that Covey would describe as proactive. I took what was happening around me and chose for myself response that best worked for me. Initially I felt I had no choice, it was so loud and I just wanted it to stop, my initial reaction was to stop it using whatever I had - in this case authority of being parent. How much better would have been my second choice?
Proactivity is about accepting that there is always a choice of how you react to things around you. Ok, I can hear you "But surely some things are so basic there simply is no choice". You may not believe me now, but because we can only see through our own eyes, what we perceive as our reality, is often not reality of others.
Is Your Workplace Suffering from Contagious Stress?Written by Graham Yemm
We wonder how many of you might recognise this scenario? Although it happened with a male manager, it could apply to men or women. The manager we worked with had been promoted to a more senior role and was experiencing demands from all sides. He became increasingly tired, was working long hours and spending less time with his family. His overall energy dropped, anxiety levels increased, sleep was disrupted and concentration and focus diminished. He no longer took time to exercise, found himself snatching meals of dubious quality and kept himself going with constant fixes of coffee and Red Bull. Apart from impact on him – what do you think were effects on his family and people who worked for and with him?
Imagine what it was like working for him. How supportive was he as a manager? How clear was his direction and communication? Was he just seeing errors and problems? Were his team, and colleagues, starting to feel stressed because of his behaviours?
What about someone working in a customer facing role, who has had trouble getting to work, pressures at home, a sudden increase of customer complaints and problems? The pressure gets to them and they start to become irritable with colleagues – and then with customers. What will that do to colleagues and business? The colleagues may be understanding for a while, but longer it goes on, risk is that they catch disease! Communication and team support disappear and morale goes down. Suppose it gets worse and our person feels they cannot face it and so take some time off. Now who bears brunt of this? Oh, and what happens with customers? What would it be like to visit this workplace? Imagine what you would see, hear and feel.
Stress rarely happens in isolation or to one individual. (Although it may feel that way!) When someone begins to get stressed there will be a ripple effect spreading out from them. Those closest feel effect first! Whether it is person at top who cascades problems down and through organisation, a line-manager struggling to cope with their job (especially when promoted into it) or a person with loads of pressures in their non-work life – they are contagious!!! The spread will be insidious if nothing is done about it. It becomes a vicious spiral and creates more work for those still there to do it.
Many of you reading this are aware that you have pressures on you from all sides, possibly from your family, your friends, colleagues, your own teams and direct reports – and yourself! Juggling your time and attention across these is a difficult challenge! What makes these pressures worse can be your own expectations of yourself and what you believe you should be doing. This could be concerned with demonstrating how capable and professional you are in your role. It could be because you feel you should be giving your family or friends more of your time and attention.
A consequence of this could be that you start to feel pressure mounting and begin to react to things differently. Maybe you become less patient with some colleagues, department who miss deadline, people in your team who do not communicate in right way for you. If you are not careful you may be originator of “virus” and before long it is spreading to those you interact with and they start to act in a stressed way!
Why does it matter? Stress is likely to lead to problems within business. These will effect bottom-line, directly or indirectly. The most obvious impact can be loss of business, maybe through poor service, or poor quality. Your costs certainly rise, whether because of lower productivity or having to correct or rework mistakes. Then there is “human cost” of low morale, probably leading to absences (eventually long-term) – and possibly leaving. This results in increasing staff turnover, with all ensuing costs and pitfalls.