As we have lived through this pandemic, we have become accustomed to reading and talking about its impact on our mental health. However, research has shown that most people’s feelings about dealing with the complexities in our World of Work have remained the same. As we navigate a slow recovery, many still feel fearful, stressed, and overwhelmed.
Of course, it’s not just the external context that is worrisome to many. Often discomfort is caused by broken internal systems, poor leadership behaviours and a lack of clarity and alignment.
Most of us have been there, and the effect it has on our mental health and confidence can be extraordinarily damaging. If this strikes a chord with you, then here are three things I have learnt along the way.
1. Don’t take it personally – whilst we should always be open to learning and being self-aware, there are often situations where workplace bullying and gaslighting are in play. However, we tend to look at ourselves as the ‘owner of the problem’ for far too long. Toxic behaviours in the workplace are prevalent despite the spoken words of leaders regarding well-being in the workplace. It is deeds, not words; we must examine. Then place ownership where it resides.
2. Get factual – the best way to deal with the irrational is to counter with the rational. If you suspect you are being undermined and sabotaged, start documenting. Track and log the severity of the situation. It may be you decide you can develop workarounds that serve both you and the work you are employed to deliver. But only if you are comfortable that it does not negatively affect your health. If it does, you have the necessary detail for opening up a conversation with whoever leads the charge against you, involving someone more senior and HR.
3. Time & help – you can’t always predict how the individual concerned or company will respond, but you need to recognise that it is a form of abuse. It’s harrowing, and the road to recovery will not always be quick or easy. You may decide to take formal action or resign. Whatever you do, make sure you take time to heal and make your mental health a priority. Go to your doctor, ask to be referred to specialist help, if possible, an occupational therapist. Find emotional support and validation for your signature strengths. Your health is your main priority. Educate yourself about examples of workplace trauma. It may be not easy to read or hear these stories, but it does help. Understanding and acknowledging this will help you realise you’re not alone. You will quickly find that there is an epidemic of poor leadership behaviours going unchecked and unresolved. Doing so can help you learn that it was not “just you”, nor “your fault”.
Ultimately, as bad as it may be, you will learn things about yourself that help you evolve and shape your purpose. Connect to a new beginning that perhaps focuses on revised goals, hobbies and dreams. No one should be able to inhibit your potential or power. Reclaim it! Lend a hand to others you see struggling with similar experiences. Above all, be the person or leader who never allows themselves to be the reason for someone else’s unnecessary pain and distress.
Even when business is complex and challenging, and there are difficult decisions, humility should always be at the heart of how we humans conduct ourselves and behave with one another. Always seek to persevere dignity and respect. After all, it’s what we want for ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody is someone’s loved one.
For those abusers who carry on with these behaviours, the heart of their moral compass is severely flawed and so too are the organisations that enable them to carry on.
Thankfully I’ve only known a few such individuals, female and male, throughout my career. It may have been misery at the time with many dark days and nights, but I’ve learnt so much about myself and others. I’m stronger, wiser and more successful as a result. These people have no place in my life now, and I have moved beyond reviling them to pity. I refuse to work with anyone who exhibits signs of being too in love with their ego or doesn’t want to do good with power.
By focusing on the lessons, my experiences have led my team and me to develop an Organisational Health Scan that diagnoses how companies create thriving work environments. This is the first fully integrated scan that examines business practices, behaviours and the ethos created through habits and actions.
Because we feel so passionately about safe and healthy workplaces, we have removed the costly financial barriers to gaining control of today. We believe in empowering internal capabilities. Our self-enabling toolkits are for those who want to move beyond the rhetoric and want to be bold about creating environments where people can thrive.
Contact us for more information on our Organisational Health Scan and World of Work Toolkit™