HOW TO BE A BETTER BOSS – BY JULIE DENNING
Consider your staff’s mental health and wellbeing.
We know that being responsible for a team (small or large) can be hard at times. Regardless of your profession, there will always be a pressure to deliver against constraints like budget and time which can be stressful for you (the manager) and the individuals you manage.
There are things you can do to create an environment that understands the importance of an employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Being a better boss is about empathy, listening and acting as a role model to help drive positive change around what some might consider ‘taboo’ subjects.
Albert Bandura, an eminent psychologist, suggested in his book (Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control) that we learn new behaviours through role models. Is ‘Modelling’ the way forward for reducing the stigma of mental health? We also know that normative beliefs are a way of changing behaviours, so why don’t we put the two together?
I was talking to one of my patients recently, and they told me about a very challenging time they were having. He had just been diagnosed with a serious illness which was hard enough, but added to this was that he had transportation difficulties and getting to the hospital for treatment was a challenge. All these factors had an impact on his mental health, and he understandably was feeling low and fed up.
He was at work at the time and confided in his boss. They helped by suggesting that every member of the team take his colleague to the hospital on a rotational basis, everyone taking a turn to help. They didn’t have to make the time up, because they were helping someone that was benefitting from their support.
What a fantastic line manager! Not only did my patient sing their praises; it meant that he was able to get to treatment and always had someone keeping him company and helping to keep his spirits up, but let’s think about the other team members. If they were ever to find themselves in the same position as my patient, they would have one less thing to worry about by knowing their manager would have their back.
You might not be able to suggest car shares, but there are simple things you can do to be a positive role model.
- Listen to your colleagues. Treat them as you would like to be yourself. Yes, you’re their boss, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know them and their interests.
- Replace non-necessary emails with a face to face conversation. It’s so easy to fire out emails when you’re busy to save time. If they are sitting near you, get up from your desk and talk to them.
- Be sensitive to the situation. There may be times when you have to deliver bad news. Don’t do this over email on a Friday night before a long weekend. They might have questions, so give them time to take everything on-board.
- Are you ok? If someone is acting a little out of character, when you get a moment, have a quiet word to see if everything is alright. Even if everything is ok, just showing you care is essential.
- Manage your time. Making sure you take regular breaks, have lunch away from your desk and start and finish at reasonable times will make you a good role model for your team who will hopefully follow suit.
And Finally, when it gets to 7:30 pm. Lead by example, turn your phone off and make time to enjoy some time with your family and friends.