Mental Health: A luxury or a norm ?

Yesterday a thought crossed my mind and I tweeted this !

And today my mentor shares this on LinkedIn

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Mental health should have been a course we must learn since Standard 1 ! Behaviours are based on how we deal with what happens to us. God knows when would any one stop considering ‘therapy’ as a luxury and not a life-skill that everyone needs to learn.

Years back I had enrolled for a course called ‘Positive Psychology’ by Talk Shop, delivered  by Dr. Mathai Fenn.

Interestingly the course wasn’t Tal Ben Shahar’s version , but an entirely new option to understand the tools that can make our choices broader.  Here’s what I learnt from the course. Go learn it for your self now 🙂

What I learnt from Positive Psychology Course

Imagine yourself, stepping inside your brain. Let it be like a large bright control room with a super computer, many monitors and speakers. There are cameras, mic and other receptors, that are constantly capturing information. Every single sound gets stored with a picture in your frame. There is a meaning which you may draw from each frame. The super computer stores this and encodes that meaning into a definite trigger. For instance when you think of Santa Claus, you may instantly think of Christmas, fun and happiness.  You may even hear the jingling of bells or carols. You may not revisit this frame, yet this affects you sub consciously. You may notice that, when you are giving gifts or you happen to in a benevolent mood. You might even end up referring to yourself as Santa Claus! You may not say ‘Ho, Ho Ho’, yet you would be able to refer to that same happy feeling or that euphoric state.

We have repeatedly realized that we are the result of our convictions. We may create positive statements, use possibility thinking, yet fail to achieve the result the way we wanted it. What goes wrong is, we move too fast from one step of processing information to another. Chalking out major information into firm steps holds the key. Suppose you join a course for Leadership development. You may have set goals for yourself such as, being able to explain the vision to your fellow members and bring them along with you. We understand you have a huge pressure to perform. In addition to it, you keep running out of time. You may constantly want to know, how soon can you get back to your office and start working. This is where your development process would stagger. In spite of having clear goals, the inability to chalk out and navigate from one step to another, forces you to jump into the result. This is how in spite of the repeated time management training program that your team attended, there was no unambiguous conditioning of their behaviour.  They continued to miss the deadlines.•

The brain’s programming screens, even the most minuscule syntax, identifying the correlation between the information and its trigger. This entails how even a minuscule change in this coding, if made, can create a multiplier’s effect. Recently, I attended a training session on Nuero Linguistic Programming – Strategies. This session was facilitated by Dr. Dorris Greenwood. It focused on identifying these strategies. A little background to Neuro Linguistic programming, it helps identifying the neurological processes that necessitate our response thereby behavioral patterns. This includes in detail the study of each reflex our brain transcends. A systematic application of strategies as discussed here can help in identifying those reflexes, hence fine tune them towards a desired outcome in the future. It was designed to identify a negative trigger. There were two situations, which were taken, one was about learning curve correction, and the second was enhancing the emotional intelligence. On a similar note, let’s itemize this, with situations, that you come across at your work.•

  • Learning Curve: NLP strategies could be used to enhance the learning curve towards any concern. The issue that was brainstormed entailed, how to attune our responses to create a better learning curve and get the result we want. This interests me as each time I take up a new concept, it takes a long time to decipher them, correlate them and finally implement them. Mostly there are a series of trial and errors which I require before, I can get the concept right. I have been reading about thin slicing. This helps, you to identify each section of what you want to learn. Thereby, correlate them to what comes easily to you. Ultimately use this acquired intelligence to implement the new learning. In a competitive environment, the result often gets measured by comparative rankings and ratings. This robs the leeway to learn. Furthermore, it may completely circumvent, learning many new concepts in a shorter period of time. In the worst case scenario, the learning curve transforms into a loop of relearning and practicing endlessly.
  • Emotional intelligence: This was identified as those points where we are just about to lose a winning game. For e.g.: You have allocated work for the next one month. A day into the new workflow and two of your employees go absconding. You discuss leave plans and a change in the workflow management, with your team members. Just as you have explained every limitation to them, they end up opposing you. They reject the workflow management as undo-able due to resource crunch with unavoidable reason for leaves. Your first reaction would reason it out. After a prolonged discussion, when you have shared logic to validate your point, you suddenly find your team members just shoving off your suggestions. You may not want it to run out of your hand, consequently, force it on them. This kills the entire process which you had envisioned in the first place. You end up being autocratic rather than a smart leader. Your work may get delivered, but you live in a constant fear of losing more employees due to such stringent circumstances.

Implementation of strategies

Cues are clubbed under different groups, including the visual, audio and kinesthetic. Kinesthetic includes the motor skills, which paces up the information processing. Each information stored as syntax coupled with the cues, creating positive and negative response. The loop is made by repeating this syntax. This results in a trigger. It is either positive or negative which saps the energy making you un-resourceful. The key to implement the strategy is to identify this negative trigger and replace it with a positive one. It proceeds with each visual, audio and kinesthetic concerning level for each cue. This means even the smallest information that you have probably ignored has been coded by your brain in such a way, that it attenuates a bull-whip effect on your learning cycle. The steps to implement the strategies include the following:

  • Test – Set your strategies into a script and test them.
  • Operate – In case the strategies set doesn’t show the result, creating a new metaphor and anchoring them to the script is essential. This includes re framing to an extent.
  • Test – Rehearsing the new script to find the perfect fit.
  • Exit – The goal to the process needs to be seen clearly. Dissociating at the point where the goal is achieved is essential to mark an end to the process.

Winning script for learning curve

  • Suppose you are learning something very difficult. What is the first thing that happens to you?
  • Most of the time it is nervousness and thoughts of when did you do something like this.
  • Now take a minute and try to hear or see when you are nervous.
  • Let’s take a case, where you don’t see or hear anything, you just get the feeling.
  • Just take another minute and step into a situation where you are about to learn something challenging.
  • Let yourself feel nervous. Just concentrate on what you see or hear.
  • You might hear a noise may be a constant noise and see objects such as stars.
  • Listen deeply, to what the noise is all about. Does the noise scare you?
  • Listen intently, how does it sound? Let’s assume it’s a constant beep.
  • Change that beep sound with chirping of birds or music- it could even be your favorite song
  • Listen to it for a while. If you need a positive statement, include it.
  • Just as you see the stars replace it with flowers- daisy and lilies
  • What is your favorite flower? If its rose, choose to replace the stars with roses
  • Now take a minute and move ahead, through each step to the end of the learning cycle. See yourself going through every chapter with confidence and added intelligence. Finally see yourself at the end of the course, with the desired outcome. It can be the merit grades you wanted or even an implementation of what you have learnt.
  • Picture yourself there, with the knowledge and wisdom you set for yourself.
  • See that you have gained and learnt all you could and are rightly capable of implementing it.
  • Look at the values that you are generating from what you have learnt take a minute and let this feeling completely seep into you, revisit this feeling, each time you decide to learn something.   Now choose anything, in the recent future that you will have to learn.
  • Repeat the process all over again.

Winning script for higher emotional intelligence

Similarly, use this script with a variation to increase your emotional intelligence. Step into a situation where your best intentions are being drawn out of proportion. Suppose you have just distributed appraisal letters. You distributed the best raise judiciously among the value creator and productive team members. However, just as they see their new salaries, they are indifferent. Their expectation was way more than what has been offered to them. They come to you and share their dissent.

  • Now take a breath and pause for a while. Picture yourself as Santa Claus or any other visual where you are happy with your employees. It can be the last team party you had or the sudden pizza party you declared. Visualize this. Add your favorite music and see yourself smiling. If you need a positive statement , include it.
  • Now return to your present state, where you have your employees speaking angrily. Look at them and see them as the human beings you have always valued. When you do this, observe what you say. The chances are that, you would remain calm and finally share the reason. They may or may not buy what you say, yet they would calm down as they listen to you.
  • Remember you cannot change other’s behavior. You can fine-tune yours. They may have situations forcing them to take up a role with a higher pay or move into their preferred location. Even if, the reasons are beyond your control, you will establish yourself as a leader of repute in their minds. If they see it more often, they would realize the benefits of working with a leader as smart as you
  • Try this now, in your mind. Imagine a future challenge and see yourself responding intelligently to it. Repeat the process until, every feeling of letting situations run out of your hands vanish. This practice, e.g. mindfulness would build your natural capabilities to respond in those situations.

Let us know, did it work for you? We are waiting, we have a mind to hear your experience!

Balancing Judgment and Discernment

The frugality of the situation and their inter-changeability remains the driving force to strategy. Even though, it is defined, as a set of planned actions over a period, to achieve the desired result.  Organization mirrors this, as the business target to reap the profit. The business goal percolates to every function, over arching with one organization goal. HR functions identify the people factors in this goal. The strategy set for the year drills down to individual functions connecting the business units. Connecting different requirements put the functions on the same page. For instance, the broad-banding of a strategy, such as building agility, would echo for recruitment with greater in-house expertise, where as payroll may require errors free, as its prime target.A case as shared as below in ‘Concern’, surfaces the tip of an Ice berg, with the challenges in Strategic HRM. This is a part and a parcel of talent management. Every organization aims to hire the best talent and retain them with best compensation. Hitherto, the gap between perception and reality edges employee dissatisfaction.

Concern: Recently we have hiked the salary of one of our employee after reviewing her overall performance. However, she is not happy with it.  She is been expecting more. Every day she reminds to negotiate an increase in her salary. Please help on how to handle this situation.

The case facts:

  • The compensation planning allocated hikes to each grade and rank, attenuated by the performance standards.
  • The employee is presented with the hike , which do not match the expectations.
  • Ordeal of negotiations for another hike lengthens decision making.

Looking glass

Logical thinking coupled with practical situations brings in the solution.  Three dimensions that attributes to strategy are as discussed below:

  • Goal Setting: The objective may be defined, as being the market leader by the next financial year. This is calculated in terms of business target. Mostly it’s an increase in the market share through either takeovers or increase in the production. This configures the goal setting for each function. HR functions for such a growing firm would strategise to designate responsibilities, to facilitate the expansion.
  • Budget Allocation: The sum total of the spending is divided into investment in terms of benefits and other operational expenses. Compensation is identified as the value returns on the services received from the talents. This is chiefly governed by the business requirement such as higher spending on research, leading to planning for larger markets share, amid higher supply chain. The HR budge would impact with an alignment to the market is weighed to offer a competitive compensation.
  • Leadership alignment: The backbone of the success to planning lies in the hands that delivers it. The leadership team designated to set the strategy and prepare budget are accountable for the business units.  The talent planning may be chaired by a CHRO , however the insinuations are contributed by the business leaders. Communication overarching the environment balances the transparency, strengthening trust.

Balancing Act

Judging a situation with logical findings would require a non-attached discernment. In our member’s case, different implications from three dimensions as discussed had lead to the dissonance. The disbursement of the hike matched the top-down judgement, but missed on the discernment.

Future of work
Future of Work
  • Individual perception of performance and result: A contribution by an employee is valued. It results with rewards when they were aligned to the organizational goals. Dashboards and performance scorecards actualise with grades for each contribution, to ensure the alignment. However, the gap of expectations widen when the employee in question weighs every contribution for a material reward. A pat on the back received for managing an expert escalation would culminate to incentive, if that escalation results with client retention and revenue returns. The excellence of the employee would be best utilized by an higher level responsibility, when appropriate.
  • Communication: The guidance to an employee reverberates intently, with the shared views and thoughts from it leader with appropriate feedback. Transparency calls for its price. It pushes the leadership to share the confidential often sensitive information. This rings the choice to jump the boat or follow the captain.

Pen-ultimately, the priorities of choosing and aligning will glue the individual to the entity. Solution to the decision maker remains in acknowledging the human concerns with judicial treatment through strategies and communication. Employee championship is intertwined with business partnering through change management and administrative expertise.

If you have any HR Query or any query on Future of Work, Employee Engagement, Talent management, Women Empowerment, Retention or Business Strategy please write to me in here. Looking forward to learn more while finding solutions for you.

Nabomita is the Founder to Nabomita.com. She is the Top 100 Women Achiever Awardee, awarded by Government of India , TEDx Speaker, Quoted on ForbesUS, one of the Top 20 HR Influencer in Social Media as declared by SHRM India and one among the Top 100 Technology Influencer in India. Connect with her on @nabomita_smiles , Facebook Page and Google+

This article have been published on Businiess manager , October issue. This issue covers different areas of Strategic Managment. This article is listed under the experts view as shared in the link Business Manager – October Issue2015