When we consider quality in the workplace, what comes to mind? Performance Indicators? Maintaining Policy’s and Procedures? Applying Health & Safety regulations? These are all relevant and our day to day work load is governed by these. On a practical level our work pressures are related to – how we manage to do what we are supposed to do within the hours we are given in a day.
The pressure our work places us under on a day to day basis seems to ensure that we maintain a cyclical thought process that runs on a well worn track:
‘How am I going to do all that in the time I have to do it in?’
It seem’s we look constantly to that mantra, it feeds a sense of increasing urgency as we rush to get everything done, racing ahead of the mouse and the keyboard, our minds working faster and faster that does not stop when we go home. Does this contribute to create poor sleep and waking in the night with panic or out of control thoughts we do not want to have? Does it feed a sense of over- whelm, in that it can’t be achieved – it’s hopeless. Can our work-load / case load management feel like an out of control tsunami chasing our tail?
At this point do we consider what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone in this state: the quality we are in when we make home visits, talk to clients and their families, devise work plan’s, problem solve, write reports, engage with professionals at meetings and so on and so on with the many different roles and activities we are being ‘us’ in.
What does that ‘us’ look like at this point?
Research evidence informs us that people in the workplace get sick with increasing frequency.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) research identifies stress as the number one cause of long-term sickness absence
And our sickness rates are through the roof. Moreover according to data released by the ‘Occupational Health Magazine’ last month revealed more employees seeking help for mental ill health issues. They cite ‘a a 70% increase increase in the past two years.
For example, in the field of Health and Social Services, research tells us that caring had a negative impact on physical health (83 per cent) and mental health (87 per cent). Could it be that caring for others to the detriment of self, which is endemic in the ‘caring profession’s’, is a root cause for our current state of ill-health?
When we are anxious and/ or our stress levels are elevated, we look for outside ourselves for solutions to fix how we feel. We all want the instant fix so we can get the report in on time, the relief from pain so we can meet deadlines. I have noticed that there’s a huge reluctance to take responsibility for the fact that:
Perhaps we get sick by making all of ‘this’ – the outside world – more important that we are?
We don’t want to look at self-responsibility, we want the magic pill, the instant solution. These solutions include drinking lots of coffee to wake us up and keep us going and add to that lot’s of Cola to increase the caffeine, eating lots of sugar based foods and snacks like cake, sweets, chocolate, not forgetting the pain killers for reoccurring headaches, antacid and heart-burn remedies etc etc. We plug ourselves into MP3 players, push on and drive ourselves to work without regular breaks, we make jokes about how awful we feel, with some pretty raw ‘trench humor’, we complain about the job, we bitch about case loads, we do all of the above and more but
There’s one thing we NEVER do,
That is take responsibility to consider what we are like walking into other people’s lives, answering the phone, sending emails, writing reports,
What quality we are in when we do so.
Our basic position remains ‘there’s nothing wrong with me and the way I live’. It is a sad irony that many of our clients have that same view, ‘there’s nothing wrong with the way I parent, you need to go next door, they’re really bad, it’s them you need to look at.‘ In Health and Social Services, we share a similar trait’s as our client group. How could we not?
When do we look at our quality as workers and consider – Does it matter what state we are in?
Does it matter if we hate to come to work and if we hate our job except on a Friday?
Does it matter if we are exhausted all the time and struggle to get to the end of the week?
Does it matter that we can’t stop thinking about work, even in the middle of the night?
Does it matter if we have the view ‘we don’t need to change’?
Does it matter if we are stressed out trying to achieve PI’s and deadlines?
Does it matter that we come to work after a heavy night out and are feeling awful because of it?
Does it matter if we drink every night to relax after a hard day – when every day is a hard day?
Does it matter that the British Medical Journal states that Alcohol ranks “most harmful” among a list of 20 drugs, beating out crack and heroin when assessed for its potential harm to the individual and harm to others?
Does it matter that we are angry about how our clients and colleagues?
Does it matter that we are distract ourselves from feeling the truth about our lives because we don’t want to feel?
And the 50 Million dollar question:
Does it matter what our quality is like, living the way we do?
Why should it matter?
Imagine, if you will, a scene in an office, two people have had a steaming row and you walk in. We immediately notice the room feels awful and we tip toe around them, get to our desk and bury ourself in work, put our MP3 on and pretend it’s not there. We feel it anyhow but ignore what’s going on as it’s uncomfortable. Or, we know when our boss is on the war-path as soon as he/she steps into the office, we duck our head and hope to go unnoticed. Or, someone is having a great day, do we feel resentful? When we go home, we can feel what mood our partner or our children are in as soon as we come through the door. If we are being honest we can say:
We can feel what is going on.
To confirm that:
We can feel what is going on with other people around us.
To take that further:
We can feel what is going on, we don’t need to be told, we feel it first
Yes, we know what people are feeling. We can admit it.
Think back to the last time someone was really ‘nice’ to you but it didn’t sit right because you thought they were trying to ‘butter you up’ to get something; or when someone really dumped on you, made you feel small, made you feel like and idiot, or made you feel great. What did that feel like?
Simple fact: We feel all the time.
We feel all the time and it’s normal to feel what is going on, we use this facility to negotiate with normal day to day stuff, but we pretend otherwise.
We can choose to acknowledge that we feel, or we can ignore it. We feel nonetheless, and…. everyone else does too!
We know that 95% of all communication is non-verbal and most of that 95% is feelings. On a daily basis we have this huge mass of ‘felt communication’.
What does it feel like when someone you know comes into the room and throws their bags down with a crash, sits in anger and types in anger? We know we can feel it, it shows in our face. So why do we think for a second that our thoughts and feeling’s are hidden from our colleagues,our clients and even our children? Given that:
What quality are we offering to our colleagues, clients and families as a result of the way we live, act and think?
If we know that we all can feel what is underlying all our words and thoughts, would we not have a more responsible way of living and working?
Is there another way to live that takes responsibility for how we live day to day, to ensure we don’t crash and burn, to ensure we don’t dump on others, a way that is equal for all. The first step is self-awareness of our own behavior’s, thoughts and speech, the second is learning to self-nurture, to care for ourselves so we don’t seek remedies without also remedying the source of the problem inside us.
Can we change our quality and the service we provide if it’s simple self-responsibility.
What is self-responsibility?
Self-responsibility is making choices in life knowing that whatever we choose will have an impact on everyone around us.
So what we choose to eat, to drink, to think, to say and to live day to day, forms your quality and
It effects everyone.
We can’t afford to pretend that because no one is watching us it’s okay to do what we do, it’s not, because it ALWAYS affects our quality, no matter who’s watching or not, and it’s our quality that we then present to others.
Knowing this, what is your quality?
Is it worth holding on to or worth changing?