Tis the season to be (not so) jolly: Mental health at Christmas

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Christmas can be a magical time of the year, but for some people it can be an emotionally challenging time and with pressure increasing year on year, it’s a time that can play havoc with our mental health.

Among the chaos of shopping, retail adverts, festive lattes and that image of a “perfect” Christmas; for some people, this time of year can conjure up feelings of dread, loneliness and sadness. Whilst Christmas is unavoidable, it is important to highlight that when it comes to festivities in the workplace, there are employees who struggle for various reasons, and the problem with this is that it is not always obvious as employees are often reluctant to talk about it which can make it difficult to offer relevant support.

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Mentoring – it’s something HR are born to do

“Focus on what you have to offer rather than what you don’t have to offer”

When you went for your very first HR interview, how did you feel? Apprehensive? Nervous?

Looking back at that experience now, a few years later; a little bit older, much wiser; what do you think about it? Do you look back and laugh and think it’s crazy you were so nervous and unsure? I know I do!

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What I’ve learned from mentoring

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”    Bob Proctor

It’s no secret that I have mentored for a number of years as a CIPD Steps Ahead Ambassador and mentor; I am incredibly lucky to have met some wonderful people through helping over these years from different industries, career levels and backgrounds.

Recently, I have undertaken the responsibility of supporting my CIPD branch by coordinating a mentoring scheme which aims to encourage HR professionals to share their experiences with a view to helping them to progress their membership or careers.

The long and short of it is that some perceive mentoring as a time consuming and long drawn out process, with many struggling to commit the time to mentor. In reality, it only takes up two hours a month and sometimes it’s a simple case of assisting with a CV.

Being a mentor isn’t just about feeling good, it’s about experiencing different perspectives.

It’s certainly not a one sided relationship, there are so many benefits and I have learnt so much, not just about people, but about the differences in generations, how to expand on existing skills, recruitment challenges and of course about different industries. This exposure has also helped me within my career especially with benchmarking and best practice exercises.

As a mentor I am there to listen, to offer practical advice, offer constructive criticism (which in the right way, is a good thing), and to help in any way that I can. However, it’s equally important that your mentee offers a different perspective or insight into their career, industry and aspirations. Believe it or not, mentees can help mentors as much as they help you!

In respect of the branch mentoring, this is distinctly different to the work I have done with Steps Ahead; I find that peer mentoring, can sometimes be more impactful than a traditional mentoring relationship. It can strengthen your network, enhances leadership capabilities and most of all supports your peers; as a branch, we are growing and progressing together, and one day we’ll be leading together, so it’s important to help one another along the way; I consider it future proofing our profession by inspiring future HR professionals.

 

A racing start to CIPD MAP 2017 from Derek Redmond

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Derek Redmond has got CIPD MAP 2017 off to a flying start, I particularly enjoyed his opening line that he used to run around in circles for a living!

Whilst Derek may have swopped lacing up his trainers for driving high performance in his role at Thomas International; his motivation remains the same, to get the most out of people in his role as Performance Director.

Engagement may be a strange term but it is a topic that many are passionate about, even as an individual, we always have a team around us to help us deliver. There’s always a coach behind us cheering us on to achieve our goals.

Derek might have been alone on the track, but he had a team of people around him to help him achieve his aspirations,; a track coach, flexibility coach, masseuse, sports physiologist, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, S&C coach, partner, agent and his Dad! All have a key role to play in the story of his success and it is no different in the world of work, they are experts in what they do.

Reflecting on Margaret Heffernan’s opening keynote to CIPD ACE 16, this demonstrates the importance of people working together, knowing their roles and ultimately, who has supported you to get you where you are now? These people are vital to our success and achieving what sometimes feels impossible. When people understand their roles, it improves relationships, communication and when they understand what each other are doing, that is where the magic happens.

Recognition to keep people engaged is essential, simply say thank you. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture but those people will never forget it and they will feel appreciated. Last week, I was speaking to my husband Mark at home and I turned to him and simply said “thank you for everything you do, I wouldn’t be here at this point in my career without you”. He seemed a bit taken back by it but it is true and I realised that I don’t say it enough, we should all do this more often.

Empowerment, alignment, involvement; these words are part of our daily lives, it’s not new but these resources can be constantly applied to every area of our performance. They are supported by our attitude and approach to how we undertake tasks to help us deliver to the best of our ability.

One thing that we should all do regularly is to reflect on our career journey, Derek mentioned that doing this each year is important; ask yourself, where were you this time last year? Are you behind? Have you kept on track? It’s vital to consistently monitor where you are on your journey and more importantly, are they fitting to where you want to be?

High engagement drives high performance; if you have highly skilled people that are not engaged, then you will simply not getting the most out of them. Engagement is as simple as that, so taking steps to improve engagement is essential to driving high performance within your business so the need for investment in this area couldn’t be more critical. Skills are irrelevant, it’s engagement that is truly important.

People and performance; in the world of business, the most common mistake is to judge upon business performance. Too much focus on figures and strategy often sacrifices understanding the role, team spirit and leaves little room for challenging each other; a distinct lack of people focus. If you look after the people, your performance will take care of itself, it sounds simple but too many organisations forget this which hinders the level of performance.

Understanding your people is the key to driving your organisation forward, as Derek demonstrated when he won the Olympic gold medal with his team in 1991. It demonstrates the capability of a truly engaged team, the same principles can be instilled in organisations.

Most organisations have the right people to deliver but they might be in the wrong roles, or there could be a lack of communication, it’s about understanding and mindset. These words will resonate with everyone so why do we continue to stay the same?

We don’t need to be told that the world of work is evolving, if this is news to you then you are already miles behind. You can’t expect to do something different if you’re doing the same thing.

A fantastic start to this years CIPD MAP Conference and a lot of food for thought to take us through the day.

 

 

 

It’s A Level results day! Your career journey starts here…

When we were little, we knew what we wanted to do for a career as we’d proudly stand in front of our classmates at a tender age of 5 and exclaim “I want to be a Policeman” “a vet” “I want to be a nurse” one beamed with pride.

I remember sitting there, I politely passed my turn to another child and went last. The teacher then asked me again “Natalie what do you want to do when you grow up?” I stood at the front and told her that I’d really thought about this question because when you have a job, you’re doing it for a long time. I then said to her that I knew wanted to work at Heathrow Airport for British Airways, just like my dad. She asked, “why British Airways?” I simply said “their people are always smart, they wear buttons on their uniforms when they’re good at work, they’re friendly and they always smile but most of all, I want my mum and dad to be proud of me”.

I sadly never made it in to British Airways in my dream role as cabin crew, but ironically my sister did and whilst my mum and dad are proud of me. I’m equally proud and grateful to them, my passion to perform well in my role is a driver I inherited from my dad.

To cut a long story short, my  point is that not everything in life goes to plan so prepare for the curveballs that now fire your way! whether that is choosing the university for you, getting into the world of work or simply figuring out your next steps, they may not be as you planned or first thought!

You’ve read the books, completed your coursework and faced the exams head on; today is the results day you have been waiting for and I wish you all the very best of luck and no matter what, you’re already a success story waiting to happen.

If your results are not what you hoped for there are a number of things you can do and you may need to adapt your plans slightly but you never know, you might prefer the new plan better!

Regardless of your result, now is an incredible time of opportunity, with an increase in demand for apprenticeships, universities opening their doors to welcome new students and a buoyant employment market, now is the time to get that first foot onto the career ladder.

Good luck and all the very best wishes from me.