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Manager accountability for psychological wellbeing and performance
Management Advisory Service Update – Derek Mowbray

The challenge
Some organisations survive on a diet of fear and reward.  Fear is the currency by which they make decisions and take actions that quite obviously cause distress. Reward is the pay that is given to those who can cope with their fear by keeping heads down and carrying on. The fear isn’t strong enough for people to run, but is present enough for people to keep quiet and not to voice their bewilderment about their experiences at work, which of course affects their engagement, contribution and performance.

Stress levels are high in such organisations. Psycho-presenteeism levels (people coming to work in body but not in mind) are higher. Costs associated with both are enormous.

It is both a sadness and a performance tragedy that such organisations do not have the passion, interest and determination to be the best, the very best, not simply in financial terms but in terms of their total impact, value, responsibility and ethical duty to be hugely successful, free of fear, with a workforce that is fully engaged in the future success of their organisation.

It’s obvious and common sense that when people feel well, and provided they are appropriately motivated, they will perform at their peak at work. Feeling well is in the mind. If your mind is clear, and you can freely concentrate on what you need to do, and you feel safe, secure and successful – you’ll zing along.

Yet, how many managers understand this obvious observation, and chose instead a path that makes life a misery for people and has such a devastating impact on productivity?

It’s a lack of clear thinking and a lack of understanding of the difference between leading and managing people.  It is the result of failing to transform managers into leaders and teach them how to engage with others in a way that doesn’t cause people to feel apprehension and fear. Too frequently, managers come into their roles as a consequence of doing well in a technical role, without having any chance to discover that management is all about the uncertainty of managing people, and not simply managing a project.

Managing people isn’t technical; it’s adaptive. You need to be ultra-clear in your thinking when dealing with people as we are all adaptive creatures, idiosyncratic and full of uncertainty. Dealing with people is dealing with speculation and ambiguity, and managers need to know how to work with this reality, instead of imposing some kind of uniformity on everyone about everything.

Holding managers to account for the psychological wellbeing of their teams

So here’s an idea…….
Why not introduce the expectation that each person in a managerial role is held to account by your Board for the psychological wellbeing of their teams?  At a stroke, managers will be wanting to know how to do this. They will, probably, realise that gym subscriptions, eating healthily and doing lots of physical activity doesn’t get rid of the stress, anxiety or depression – it just diverts the mind from the events and behaviours that cause the issues.

Here’s another idea…….
Managers should think of themselves as being strong and positive role models, and getting the best from their teams – just like the best teachers.

Why not introduce the expectation that the role of managers is to get the best possible performance from their teams to do justice to the investment in their intelligence, curiosity, skills, knowledge and experience.

This can only be done by ensuring each person is sufficiently psychologically well that they can concentrate effectively, and have the energy and enthusiasm to give to their work the mental clarity that high performance demands.

And another idea…….
Why not make the task of managers to create the conditions in which individuals can feel safe, without fear, secure, can concentrate, can thrive and feel they own their work, that it’s their team, their organisation and are totally engaged in making everything and everyone more successful tomorrow compared with today.

Once the conditions are right, everything else the manager is expected to do, such as complete projects or deliver goods and services, will fall into place and be achieved with comparative ease.

Download Derek’s full article

Where to start?
Start by reading our Guides for Managers and Leaders, available singly or as a discounted setor embark on our development programme focused on manager behaviours and actions that provoke psychological wellbeing and performance and transform managers into leaders:

Transforming Managers into Leaders Programme
BOLD Leaders Programme.

Call 01242 241882 or email Barbara.leigh@mas.org.uk for further information.

Our Resilience ELearning Programmes:
In-depth Personal Resilience ELearning Programme
NEW Short Resilience Programme – suitable for organisation-wide availability.
Email Barbara for details.

Derek Mowbray and the MAS Team

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