You are in your office. It is 7pm and you are getting ready to leave, already running late for dinner with your family. The CEO pokes his head through the door to let you know he has arranged an early meeting before work tomorrow morning to discuss how to move the company forward. He hands you a file to look through tonight so you can come prepared to the meeting.
You sit back down at your desk, worn out, frustrated. Last week he rejected your idea for an innovative project that would save man hours and increase productivity. Constantly talking about being innovative and increasing market share he is unwilling to adapt or to engage the employees in supporting change. Unlike in the newer tech companies who have a focus on work life balance and corporate culture, you feel stifled, ignored and burned out.
Typically, corporate culture, whether in healthcare, engineering, technology or finance, is stifling and unwilling to change. Those who enter it with dreams of success and bringing new ideas and innovations to play, are often quickly consumed by the culture as it exists. Innovation is lost. People become subsumed into the role of corporate employee, following set scripts. In the process they lose their voice and much of what they hoped to achieve. Frustration often follows. Those who try to innovate or act differently often find themselves in conflict with others or with the organization.
In order to support others or to achieve our potential we must be at our optimum selves. Taking care of ourselves and feeling whole. Not torn apart by the demands of an uncaring system or corporation that forces us to participate in their desires, losing ourselves in the process. Finding our voice and standing up for ourselves and our needs is vital. It does not detract from the needs of the organization but rather supports it, because when we are whole our contribution can be more profound. When we are centered in ourselves we are able to keep our focus, to be innovative, creative and to bring new perspectives to the table. But we must take responsibility for creating change.
Develop realistic boundaries for yourself. Discuss them with your boss and your colleagues.
If it is not brought up people are often unaware you have too much on your plate. This is the best first step and often resolves the issue of overwork. People are afraid to bring it up because they fear they will be viewed as unable to cope and that this may reflect negatively on them and their career.
It takes strength to speak up for yourself. But the truth is something we all know. There is only so much time in a day!
“The surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn how, and when, and to whom to delegate work,” — James Cash Penney
It is a great strength to be able to trust others to do work for you. What could be done by others? Where can you accept help?
When delegating ask yourself if you are looking for perfection or to get the job done in a timely manner. Make sure you give the other person all the information they need to do the job and be willing to teach them. This will serve you well in the long run.
It sounds so easy. But how often have you said “Yes” to something because you wanted to seem helpful, or you just didn’t take the time to think it through first and then groaned inwardly to yourself because you just don’t have the time?
Be assertive! If you need time to consider it, say so. If you can’t do it, say so. Many people feel guilty about saying No, but it’s not necessary. It’s your choice so don’t apologize. If you need to clarify your reasons do so simply. Most people will understand.
Although it may feel counter-intuitive to stop working taking time for yourself unwinds your mind. It makes you more focused, productive and leads to more engagement with work and better work life balance.
Take mini-breaks during the day. Just pushing back from your computer, taking a few deep breaths and getting up for a moment relaxes the body and mind.
Don’t eat at your desk, take the time to step outside or eat lunch with a co-worker. Or simply plan to take the long way around to meetings instead of frantically rushing between places.
Bring up discussions about culture change. So often in organizations this is not addressed because people are uncertain how to make changes.
Create a space for this uncertainty to be addressed openly. Solutions are often found through conversation. Even if an immediate solution is not found it is now out in the open for further discussion.
Dr Kate Price is an Executive Coach and Business Consultant with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She has 20 years’ experience working with individuals, groups and organizations enabling them to overcome difficulties and develop skills in life and leadership.
Originally published at medium.com