Category: Personal Development

Overworked? Burned Out?

Last month, the website FinanceBuzz released a study of the most overworked cities in the U.S. In the study, researchers looked at metrics such as:

  • average number of hours worked per week,
  • average commute time and
  • percentage of workers who work 50+ weeks per year.

And the winner of the most overworked city is: Washington, D.C. If you’d like to take a closer look at the study and the methodology behind it, here’s a link.

We probably don’t need a study to tell us that the Washington region suffers from a severe case of “overwork.” So many of us feel like we’re doing the work of two or three people and juggling it all can seem like an impossible task. But very few people can keep going at a frantic pace and not experience some symptoms of overwork. A few of the most common symptoms are outlined below:

  • Increased stress levels and physical symptoms: People may notice fatigue, headaches or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Sleep behaviors may be disturbed, reduced or increased.
  • Decreased productivity: When workloads increase, employees may struggle to keep up, resulting in missed deadlines and making more mistakes.
  • Procrastination: Some employees may resort to avoidance and procrastination as a way to deal with overwhelm.
  • Increased absenteeism: Increased workloads can cause employees to take more sick leave to deal with stress.
  • Decreased job satisfaction: When workers feel overwhelmed and overworked, they may lose motivation and become disillusioned with their jobs. This can often lead to higher rates of turnover, particularly in a competitive job market.

Although they’re similar and often used interchangeably, overwork and burnout are not the same. Overwork refers to the act of working too hard or too much. The term “burnout” was first used in 1974 by German-American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who defined it as “the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” The key is to identify any symptoms of overwork you may be experiencing (the earlier, the better!), so you can prevent burnout.

Prolonged periods of overwork can begin to take a toll on our mental and physical health, as well as personal relationships. When we overwork and fail to prioritize our own needs and self-care, we don’t give our brain or body what it needs to recuperate. In our next article, we’ll take a look at a few ways to handle increasing workloads. If you notice that your workload is starting to negatively impact your life, working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can be incredibly beneficial. We can help you achieve the balance you’ve been striving for, both professionally and personally, before your day-to-day stressors lead to burnout. Contact us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Handling Increasing Workloads

Steadily increasing workloads may seem like a harsh reality in today’s workplace. Technology ensures that we’re available 24/7. Working from home can make it hard to unplug and create a work/home balance. Falling into the routine of overwork is easy, but getting yourself out of it can feel like an uphill task. However, it’s not impossible and your mental and physical health may depend on it.

No one is equipped to go at lightning speed without suffering some mental and/or physical repercussions, whether it’s right now or down the road. We outlined a few symptoms of overwork in our last article. Perhaps you’re dealing with one or more, but feel helpless and wonder if there’s anything you can do about it. Here are 6 suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Minimize distractions and identify time-wasters: Suggestions include checking e-mail only a few times a day, staying off social media, using earphones if you work in a loud environment and setting clear boundaries if you work from home with family members in the house.
  • Make lists and establish priorities: Write down everything you need to accomplish in a given day and then assign each task a priority. Project managers often use the 4Ds of time management: Do, Delegate, Delay and Drop. Checking off tasks as you complete them can also give a sense of accomplishment. It’s a small, but powerful step!
  • Delegate where you can: So many us get in the mindset of, “Oh, it’ll be quicker and easier if I just do it myself.” This is particularly true of new managers. However, if you’re in a position to delegate tasks, do it! There is a limit to what one person can do.
  • Sit down and talk with your manager: If you feel comfortable, enlightening your manager about your situation can help you both come up with strategies. But don’t just walk into their office without a plan. Ask yourself if your current workload is acceptable for your role and job description. Come in with your list of priorities to share. And propose a solution you can both discuss.
  • Pursue hobbies outside of work: A hobby not only brings fulfillment, but also makes your brain think in different way and takes your mind off your job. If you work remotely, try to pursue a hobby that gets you out of the house.
  • Prioritize wellness into your routine: We’re talking exercise, breathing techniques, meditation, anything that helps calm and recharge you.

And remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can help you chart a clearer path forward. We’ll discuss your unique situation, strategies for dealing with your increasing workload and help you establish possible solutions and clear boundaries. The key is to get ahead of your workload situation before it leads to burnout.

Ready to learn more? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

 

The Power of Mental Strength

Have you ever thought about what makes people excel in a particular area, whether it’s a successful career, playing a musical instrument or running a marathon with an amazing time? Most of us would say it’s a person’s intelligence or natural talent that enables them to achieve such incredible results. However, there may be one important factor that you’re not taking into consideration: mental strength. Mental strength is the capacity of a person to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of their ability, regardless of their circumstances. Call it grit, resiliency or toughness, it’s the key reason why some people are able to overcome obstacles, while others crumble more easily with the daily challenges and frustrations of life.

You’ve probably seen evidence of this in your own life. Do you remember someone who was an incredible musician, but squandered their talent? How about your high school teammate who consistently worked the hardest and squeezed the most out of their potential? Maybe you were set on accomplishing a goal and were willing to put in the work, no matter how long it took.

So, what does a mentally strong person look like and what makes them tick? In his book “Developing Mental Training,” psychologist Peter Clough, describes four important traits of mental toughness, which he calls the four C’s:

  • Control: Control means having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent to which a person feels in control of their life and their circumstances. Mentally strong people also understand what they can control and what they can’t. They can work through emotionally charged situations without seemingly being reactive or derailed. This calm approach often has a positive effect on those around them.
  • Commitment: Commitment is all about goal setting and ‘stickability’. It describes the extent to which someone is prepared to set goals and targets and then do what they need to do to achieve them.
  • Challenge: Challenge is something that many people are afraid of or try to avoid at all costs. Yet a mentally tough person welcomes a challenge. Whether the outcome is good or bad, challenges often teach us a lesson. Mentally tough people thrive on challenges and see them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Confidence: Confidence describes the self-belief a person has in their own abilities and the ability they have to deal with conflict and challenge. When faced with a challenge, mentally tough people believe they can deal with the situation and have the inner strength to stand their ground and deal with objections.

The ability to cope with difficult situations and emotions is a significant predictor of our success and happiness. However, we’re all human and have certainly gone through periods of life where we feel stuck and our resiliency may not be as strong as we want it to be. That’s when working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can be incredibly beneficial. Whether you’re a new or seasoned leader looking to enhance your mental strength or you’re interested in developing these skills in your team, we can work with you through every step of the process. Coaching provides a fresh perspective, goal setting and accountability to achieve consistent and meaningful results.

Contact Leah M Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to learn more and get started.

Techniques for Building Mental Strength

When life knocks you down, are you quick to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward? Or do you tend to break down and spend lots of time wallowing in self-pity and doubt? There are times in our lives when we feel like we can handle anything and then there are days when the smallest setback seems insurmountable. The difference isn’t our circumstances. It’s our mental strength.

As we talked about in our previous article, mental strength is how effectively someone deals with the challenges, pressures and stressors they may face. Some call it grit, others call it resilience or toughness. And fortunately, it’s something that can be worked on and improved with the right techniques. Just as physical strength can be built, mental strength can be also be built with the right habits, consistency, and well, grit. Here are 9 ways to start:

  • Don’t shy away from change – as much as many us hate it, change really is the only constant
  • Don’t ruminate on the past – focus on what lies ahead
  • Focus on what you can control – discerning what you can and can’t control keeps you positive and motivated
  • Develop a daily routine – developing consistent habits, no matter how small, can help you make meaningful progress
  • Take action – it doesn’t matter how small the steps, action builds confidence and keeps you moving forward
  • Don’t focus on your weaknesses – focusing on your strengths helps you grow much faster than trying to improve your weaknesses
  • Try to see failure as an opportunity – failure is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to define you and, with the right mindset, can be a catalyst for growth
  • Don’t dwell in self-pity – we all know life can be hard sometimes, but dwelling on our circumstances keeps us from emerging from them and moving forward
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – define your own version of success that has nothing to do with others’ strengths and accomplishments

And here’s one more – keep your connections strong! No one needs to go it alone. If you feel like you’re struggling with building and maintaining mental strength or you lead a team that could use some help, working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can be incredibly beneficial. Coaching can help you face your fears head on, increase adaptability, build motivation, establish consistent routines and habits and so much more. Building mental strength is not about beating yourself up when you feel like you’re not as productive as you should be or reaching your goals on your self-imposed timeline. Practicing self-compassion is a crucial component and actually helps us build resilience.

Interested in learning more and get started on a path to change? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

 

Drivers Of Engagement

According to recent research by Gallup, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. dropped in 2021 for the first time in a decade. The trend continued into 2022 with only 32% of full and part-time employees engaged and 17% actively disengaged. These lower levels of engagement have certainly fueled “The Great Resignation” with workers looking for more meaningful work, greater flexibility and increased work-life balance. Employee engagement is a topic that organizations can no longer push under the rug, but need to examine more closely and determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Let’s start by defining employee engagement. In a nutshell, it’s the measure of how involved and enthusiastic your team members are about coming to work every day. It’s their emotional commitment to your organization, including the mission, core values and vision. Here’s what engaged employees look like:

  • They’re proud of where they work and typically happy with their job, manager and company culture
  • They intend to stay with an organization
  • They would recommend their workplace to others
  • They’re actively interested in their job and support and encourage fellow team members

Now that we know what employee engagement is, what are some of the top drivers of engagement? Most of us would say compensation, and while it certainly plays a role, it’s not the most important factor. Here’s a look at the top 5:

  • Strong leadership: One of the biggest discoveries from Gallup’s employee engagement research is that managers or team leaders alone account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. That’s quite a percentage! Strong leadership truly matters.
  • Caring organizational culture: Like strong leadership, an organization’s culture plays a prominent role in how team members feel about their job. Helping team members feel that the work they’re doing is essential for the success of the organization will create a positive employee experience. A culture that emphasizes work/life balance and employee wellness (just to name a few), goes a long way in boosting engagement.
  • Meaningful work: Everyone wants to feel like their work means something and has a purpose. It boosts enthusiasm, productivity and connection. It’s also a major driver of employee retention.
  • Professional growth opportunities: Research shows that employees are much more likely to be engaged in jobs with organizations that make learning and professional development part of their culture. Fostering personal growth opportunities helps employees achieve their personal goals and leads to greater satisfaction and dedication.
  • Regular feedback and recognition: Having a consistent system of feedback within an organization is one of the best ways to build strong communication. In organizations that emphasize feedback as an important part of their culture, employees receive regular, helpful feedback from direct supervisors and are encouraged to provide meaningful feedback to co-workers and leadership. It’s truly a two-way street.

As you read this list, think about your organization. Do you feel like you’re hitting the mark on all five? Or maybe you notice weak spots and see room for improvement. Working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can help. We collaborate with you to look at areas where engagement is low, establish where improvements can be made and come up creative solutions that will increase team members’ engagement and morale.

There’s no better time than the present to get started! Team members want more than a good paycheck and a warm, fuzzy feeling to feel invested in their work and contribute their best to an organization. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com

Drivers Of Disengagement

Are there any leaders out there who haven’t encountered employee disengagement at one point or another? If you’re in a management position, you can probably recall at least a few instances. If not, you’re either extremely fortunate or you may not know the signs to watch out for. Disengagement can rear its head in a variety of forms. For example, team members can feel out of the loop in terms of communication and resources or they may be struggling with work/life balance. They may also feel discouraged by a lack of company culture or difficulty collaborating with team members.

In our last article, we looked at the top 5 drivers of employee engagement. But what are some of the red flags to watch out for when it comes to employee disengagement? Here are a few examples of an unengaged team member:

  • Withdrawal from any non-necessary activities or conversations
  • Poor communication and lack of participation
  • Breaks from routine (i.e.: a typically vocal person no longer speaks up in meetings, a punctual person is chronically late or misses deadlines)
  • Apathetic approach to meetings, projects, communication, etc.
  • Rudeness and curtness with coworkers and clients

What’s the common denominator? It’s a change in behavior that lasts for a prolonged period of time.

With all of the challenges leaders are facing in today’s workplace, problems with disengaged employees can sneak up quickly and snowball into major issues. That’s where Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. We can get to the root causes of WHY team members are feeling disengaged and work with you to come up with ideas to address these problems quickly.

When it comes to employee disengagement, it’s so important to look for solutions right away, rather than wait until productivity declines and turnover increases. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s start tackling any disengagement issues now!

Finding Confidence In Our Lives

American philosopher and psychologist William James once said that, “Most people live in a restricted circle of potential.” Although he made this observation over a century ago, it still holds true today. When it comes to fulfilling our potential, it’s often not a lack of resources, opportunity or intelligence, but a lack of self-confidence. We often become our own worst enemy when we continually doubt ourselves and listen to the self-defeating voices in our head.

Many of us mistakenly believe that confidence is something certain lucky people are born with and the rest of us are just futilely trying to find it. But confidence is simply the outcomes of our own thoughts and actions. It’s the belief in our ability to succeed at a task. For example:

  • Our belief that we can give a speech in front of an audience
  • Our belief that we can exit an unhealthy relationship and find one more fulfilling
  • Our belief that we can change career paths or start a business

You get the picture. Our brain tells us a lot – some of it’s true, but a lot of it isn’t. It’s those untrue, self-defeating thoughts that hold us back from taking the steps necessary for meaningful change. On the flipside, self-confidence gives us the courage to break out of our comfort zone and face fears head-on.

The Benefits of Self-Confidence

There’s no doubt about it – having confidence in ourselves feels good! However, there are many other benefits that confidence brings to our lives. Here’s a look at a few:

  • More resilience: Resilience is the ability to cope with and recover from setbacks. Higher levels of self-confidence enhance your resiliency and help you bounce back from life’s challenges.
  • Healthier relationships: When you have confidence in yourself, it helps you better understand and care for others. It also helps you identify relationships that aren’t healthy and gives you the strength to move on.
  • Better performance: Many of us waste our time worrying that we’re not good enough. Self-confidence doesn’t mean you’re not going to make mistakes or even fail, but it will help you devote your energy to what matters instead of self-deprecating thoughts. And that translates to better performance no matter what task is in front of you.
  • Willingness to try new things: Whether you want to sign up for a class, learn a new skill or tackle that half marathon, self-confidence makes you more willing to try new things and put yourself out there.

We can all relate to the ebb and flow of confidence throughout our lives. Even if you’ve spent years doubting your abilities and feeling like you can’t take the steps to break out of self-defeating beliefs, it’s never too late to change course. Working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can put you on the right path towards greater self-confidence. You’ll learn why you’re stuck in a pattern of negative thoughts, how you can break the cycle, tools you can use to bring lasting change and so much more.

Contact us today at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com and let’s squash those negative thoughts and enhance your life through strengthened confidence!

 

The Role Of Confidence In The Workplace

According to a survey by the job site Indeed, 94% of employees said that confidence is vital to complete daily tasks at work and believe it’s a major contributor to overall career growth. In addition, 98% of those surveyed said they perform better when they feel more confident. These numbers aren’t exactly surprising, but they do highlight the importance that self-confidence plays in the workplace. As we mentioned in our last article, the good news is that confidence isn’t something you’re born with, but something we can all build, practice and reinforce!

We all want to feel confident at work, but often, it feels like there are forces beyond our control. Maybe you’re new to a job or career path and are terrified of making mistakes. Perhaps you feel like you’re underqualified in a leadership role and don’t have what it takes to build a successful team. Or maybe you’ve always been really hard on yourself and constantly question whether you have what it takes to succeed. Whatever the case, these self-defeating thoughts aren’t doing you any favors and can hold you back from promotions, management roles and more. Self-confidence in the workplace has so many positives, including better communication skills, increased ability to handle feedback and conflict, greater happiness and a decrease in comparing yourself to others.

So, what does confidence in the workplace look like? Not everyone expresses self-confidence in the same way, but there are some common traits that confident people possess. Here’s a few:

  • They don’t seek validation from others
  • They don’t worry about things outside of their control
  • They aren’t afraid to ask for help
  • They’re decisive and assertive
  • They recognize when they make a mistake
  • Their verbal cues match their non-verbal cues (they’re genuine and sincere!)
  • They appear confident through their eye contact, dress, body language, etc.

How many do you see in yourself?

Think of the times you’ve let self-doubt seep into your mind. Remember the worry, the sleepless nights, the doubts that you really deserve that promotion you’ve been working for. If you feel like your lack of self-confidence is holding you back in your career, Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help you squash those self-defeating patterns. We’ll work together to look at your goals and aspirations, where self-confidence plays a role, what’s holding you back and tools that you can use to make positive changes.

Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com and let’s start the journey towards greater self-confidence together.

Ideas for Improving Psychological Safety

Imagine a work environment where every team member feels comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.

  • An environment where people feel like they can learn from their mistakes and not humiliated.
  • An environment where disagreements and open discussions are encouraged and not seen as a threat.

Perhaps you already work in an office like this and you probably feel grateful for it! However, if you’re like many, it could feel like a dream that will never come true. That’s because many organizations have difficulty developing and maintaining a strong sense of psychological safety for their team members. As we discussed in our last article, psychological safety is about being able to act and engage in a team without fear of negative consequences. It’s one of the strongest proven predictors of team effectiveness.

It takes great leadership and management to create psychological safety. But if you feel like it’s lacking in your organization, what are a few first steps you can take to improve it? Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Practice accountability and lead by example: Leaders set the tone for an organization and are responsible for the psychological safety of the workplace. Leaders should be approachable, be open to opinions that differ from their own and be willing to acknowledge their own mistakes (just to name a few).
  • Enhance communication skills: For example, ask team members directly for their thoughts and opinions. Encourage people to share by asking questions. Actively ask quieter individuals for their input. Also, practice active listening by leaving your phone on your desk during meetings and improving eye contact.
  • Hone conflict resolution skills: No one likes to deal with conflict, but when you’re leading a team, it’s inevitable. If a team member humiliates or undermines others or prevents team members from speaking up, leaders have to be ready to intervene. Just one or two negative people can really put a damper on overall company culture.
  • Foster open conversations with team members: It’s vital to pay attention to how your team operates. Do some people dominate during meetings? Are some more quiet and seem reluctant to participate? Make an effort to enable equal speaking time for everyone. A calm environment and perhaps some ice breakers are just a few ways to put everyone at ease. Team outings or even virtual hangouts can also provide an opportunity for team members to let their guard down and get to know each other better.

Saying you encourage your team to speak up and be candid is one thing, but creating a culture of trust is another. It takes care, consistency and a commitment to learning new behaviors, but the payoff is worth it! Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.  Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help with fresh ideas and strategies to help you increase psychological safety within your organization. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s start 2023 off on a productive note!

Psychological Meaningfulness

Most of us spend the majority of our week at the office, yet how many of us find our job to be meaningful? It can feel like a pipe dream to find work that makes us feel fulfilled and motivated. And the numbers back this up: according to a study by Bates College and Gallup, over 80% of college-educated Americans aspire to meaningful work, yet less than 50% actually attain it. This isn’t good news for organizations, as a lack of employee engagement and perceived meaninglessness leads to decreased productivity, lower morale and greater turnover

I just recently completed a certification from Cornell University on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The course, taught by Professor Nishii, takes a deep dive into the issue of employee engagement and it’s three components. We examined psychological availability last month and this month we’re taking a look at the second component: psychological meaningfulness.

What Is Psychological Meaningfulness?

What do we mean by the term “psychological meaningfulness”? Organizational psychologist William Kahn, author of the 1990 study “Physical Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work”, defined it as “employees perceiving their role/task as meaningful, both to the organization and within the context of wider society, to justify their “full self” being deployed.” Team members feel motivated within their positions due to challenge, opportunities for autonomy and strong goals. They feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves.

What Psychological Meaningfulness Looks Like – and Steps to Avoid

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to meaningful work. It differs from person to person and often changes as people age, go through periods of personal change and have various life experiences. But we can agree that once a sense of meaningfulness is found, it brings about a greater sense of pride and achievement, a feeling of fulfillment and a satisfaction in finding work that is absorbing and interesting. And while there’s no magic formula for creating meaningful positions, there are definite steps that organizations don’t want to take. Here are 6 of the most common mistakes:

  • Failing to recognize and appreciate team members’ contributions
  • Creating a disconnect between organization and personal values
  • Treating team members unfairly
  • Overriding team members’ judgment and making them feel disempowered
  • Creating a disconnect between team members
  • Putting team members in situations where they feel unsafe

Most organizations don’t know where to begin when it comes to helping their employees find more meaning in their positions and increase overall engagement. The typical “office perks” are often surface level and don’t delve into the root issues. That’s where Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. A fresh approach and perspective, combined with experience tackling all different types of employee disengagement issues is just what you need to start next year off on a positive note! Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com today.