Leadership Series – Positive Psychology: Taking a Strengths-Based Approach

Shari Walton, Organisational Development Consultant

Professor Martin Seligman, one of the world’s leading researchers in positive psychology identified that leaders who role-model positive psychology encourage a flourishing workplace, where scientific research is translated into improved leadership, better mental health, increased wellbeing and higher performance and satisfaction for individuals, improved employee engagement and retention and higher overall organisational effectiveness.

The way we work has shifted dramatically recently with hybrid working, remote teams and virtual interactions making positive workplaces more important than ever before. The ability of leaders to focus on strengths is crucial to achieving wellbeing.


Humans are hardwired to pay attention to negative experiences, and we have a propensity to learn from and use negative information more than positive information. Individuals may be unaware of what influences happiness in their life from one day to the next. At the heart of positive psychology lies the belief that people can lead happier, more meaningful, and fulfilling lives by moving their focus away from the negatives toward a more balanced perspective.

Many positive psychology exercises, such as gratitude journaling, lead to positive outcomes and the below exercise will help leaders find meaning and value from their own experiences by exploring their strengths and how they can utilise them to achieve desired goals and develop a sense of meaning and fulfilment.

Write the story of your past:

  1. Describe the challenges you have overcome
  2. Outline the personal strengths that helped you.

Describe your life and who you are right now:

  1. How do you differ from your past self?
  2. What are your strengths now?
  3. How have your strengths evolved?
  4. What challenges are you facing?
  5. How can you use your strengths to overcome these challenges?

Write about your ideal future: 

  1. How will your life be different than it is now?
  2. How can you use your strengths to achieve this ideal future?
  3. How will your strengths grow?
  4. What kind of person do you hope to become?
  5. Finally, how can you go about achieving these things?

Discovering and nurturing a strengths-based approach will help to shift negative outlooks to positives. Creating meaning through work will encourage motivation, high engagement, and a sense of thriving as well as build strong interpersonal relationships and resilience. For more information or support, reach out to your Relationship Manager to arrange a consult with our Organisational Development Team.

 

Shari Walton is an enthusiastic solution focused senior Organisation Development Consultant with extensive experience designing, developing, and implementing a broad range of Leadership Development, Talent Management, and other Learning and Organisation Development interventions that drive change and support individual, team, and business success.

Shari has over 30 years’ experience in the organisation development field across Finance, IT and Higher Education sectors. This experience is complemented with formal qualifications in Human Resources, Learning & Development, Executive Coaching, along with a Graduation Diploma in Communication Management, and a Diploma in Holistic Wellness Coaching.

 

Image from Pexels by fauxels.

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Tackling Stress

We’re kind to friends and our colleagues. We encourage our children to be kind. So why is it hard to turn that lens of kindness back onto ourselves? Are we are being selfish, wasting time with self-care? We know how hard it can be, especially during a pandemic, to be nice to ourselves but if we drive ourselves on relentlessly, something will give.

At Newport & Wildman, we talk to a lot of people about their ‘stress signature’. How do you know if you’re stressed? Stress shows up in our bodies (headaches, racing heart, insomnia), in our thoughts (excessive worry and catastrophising), behaviours (drinking to relax, not sleeping well) and relationships (being snappy with people, reactive to situations that normally slide right past us). 

Stress can be pretty awful, but it has reasons for putting us on edge. That surge of adrenaline when we are in danger tells our heart to pump blood to our limbs. Non-essential systems like digestion shut down (hence that sinking feeling in our gut when we are scared). This allows us to fight our way out of danger, or flee. Which is good when confronted with something dangerous but not so useful in our day-to-day lives. If we are constantly on edge, our fight or flight status leaves us exhausted. The stress hormone, cortisol, is key to this defence system but long-term it plays havoc with our bodies – blood sugar and blood pressure skyrocket, memory is affected, higher levels at night create insomnia.

By identifying our personal stress signatures, we can try and intervene to minimise the short and long term impacts on our lives. This can be as simple as taking a lunch break (not working while you eat), or making sure you have a real weekend with people you care with (not always checking emails). We all know the concept of self-care; eat well, exercise, relax, social connection, get enough sleep. It’s hard to fit what feels like downtime into our busy lives, but the benefit is huge in terms of our health, sanity, quality time with family and friends, and increased clear thinking, which means higher productivity.

For more tips on Self-care and managing stress during the pandemic, click here.

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Leadership Series – Resolving Conflict Constructively

Shari Walton, Organisational Development Consultant

Conflict is a continuum. Not enough can lead to apathy, artificial harmony, individuals suppressing their wants and needs and too much can lead to loss of self-confidence, disengagement, depressionbreak-down of work relationships or lack of productivity.

As a leader, how you manage smaller conflicts will impact how many escalate into serious conflicts such as severe employee relations issues, staff turnover, low employee engagement, and even legal claims.

Conflict may arise due to a range of factors including miscommunication, lack of information, conflicting goals, different values or unequal power and access to resources. Whilst conflict is a natural workplace phenomenon, if managed well it can be beneficial for an organisation as it can stimulate diversity of thought, development of more mature and meaningful interpersonal relationships and contribute to innovation.

Consider a recent conflict you may have found yourself in and self-evaluate your response using this checklist:

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We each have a preferred, or default, way of dealing with issues of conflict and although this can serve us well in certain types of situations, we may need to consciously adjust our style and draw on the skills associated with a different conflict style at times. Developing a broader range of interpersonal skills will help improve your ability as a leader to effectively resolve conflicts. Consider adopting some of the ideas identified in the above checklist and proactively look for opportunities to bring these into your future interactions.

For more information or support, reach out to the Newport & Wildman Team to arrange a consult with our Organisational Development Team.

 

Shari Walton is an enthusiastic solution-focused senior Organisation Development Consultant with extensive experience designing, developing, and implementing a broad range of Leadership Development, Talent Management, and other Learning and Organisation Development interventions that drive change and support individual, team and business success.

Shari has over 30 years of experience in the organisation development field across Finance, IT and Higher Education sectors. This experience is complemented with formal qualifications in Human Resources, Learning & Development, Executive Coaching, along with a Graduation Diploma in Communication Management, and a Diploma in Holistic Wellness Coaching.

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Stress Down Day 2022

Sunday 24th July 2022 is Stress Down Day, a fun and easy initiative designed to reduce stress and raise vital funds for Lifeline Australia. Stress Down Day promotes happiness, encourages help seeking and raises awareness of suicide prevention through raising funds for Lifeline's crisis support services. For more information, check out the Lifeline Website.

"Research shows that 90% of Australians feel stressed - with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work. This Stress Down Day we are asking you to 'task yourself with 30 minutes of movement' in recognition of the importance of taking some time out to relax your mind and body and give yourself a break:

  • 30 minutes of yoga
  • A walk around the block or along the beach
  • Swim
  • Ride
  • Dance

Whatever form of movement makes your body feel good!" Stress Down Day.

Self-care and managing stress during the COVID-19 pandemic

  1. Get moving!

It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but exercise is one of the best things to do to improve your mood and reduce stress. The trick is to find what suits your lifestyle and daily routine. Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga are great when it comes to relieving stress.

Hobbies that focus attention onto other things are also good stress relievers. Take up a new activity unrelated to current work or personal commitments - activities that give a sense of achievement and satisfaction are best. Set aside time each day to fit in a stress relieving activity, this should become a priority in your life not just an optional extra.

  1. Identify your stressors

Identify the causes of stress. More than one in five Australians reported mental health issues as a source of stress. These stressors related to both external and internal factors including workplace pressures, family issues and problems related to personal finance. Once you have identified the triggers, you will find they are much easier to manage.

  1. Work out your priorities

Start your day by writing down your main concerns, prioritise them and tackle each challenge one at a time. Make your tasks achievable and tick each one off once complete. It is a great way to focus your energy on each single task and once complete you will feel a sense of achievement and progress.

  1. Practice saying no

Sometimes we become ‘yes’ people –‘yes I will get that done, not a problem,’ when really our stress levels are soaring and we should have said no. If you are already feeling overloaded, think hard before committing to other people’s needs and expectations. Remember you can always say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t do that right now I am just too busy.’ No is not always a bad thing.

  1. Take your time

We could all learn something from the saying, ‘slow and steady wins the race’, by slowing down and going at our own pace. Most of the time working slowly but consistently will achieve more than becoming over-stressed and frantic.

 
It is important to remember that feeling anxious, fearful, stressed, angry or irritable are common and normal feelings during uncertain times like these. It is important to monitor your own physical and mental health. For more information or to arrange an appointment, please contact us on 1800 650 204.
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NAIDOC Week – Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up

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It’s another NAIDOC week celebration. The theme for this year – 2022 is as depicted in the above poster. It is a fitting theme as it encourages everyone that believes in what NAIDOC stands for to embrace just that, to GET UP! STAND UP! AND SHOW UP! on all that we have decided to achieve for our people and our communities. The fact is we cannot afford to rely on others to bring about much needed changes we so desire. Any desired achievements lie squarely on our shoulders, both old, and young emerging leaders of our Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people. As the theme calls us to do, Let us all - Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up where and when it matters most.

Now is the time to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and community on the services and resources that best meet the needs of our people.

The tides are slowly moving and as the slogan says, we must be prepared to Get UP! Stand Up, and Show Up for without a united front we will remain standing where we find ourselves today.

 Lydia Gah, Holistic Counsellor and Coach

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Support through a tragic event

Traumatic events disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following tragic events.

The immediate focus is to ensure that everyone is safe. At this present time, particularly with intense media coverage and access to information on the internet, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a heightened state of emotion for everyone involved. It’s important to be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

What your people will need right now is (download pdf version here):

  • If needed, allow additional time at home to spend time with family and friends - this helps them to feel safe and connected, and reassure others of their safety.
  • Make sure your people have access to support information and numbers - specifically the EAP and any other services you may have in place.
  • Give people assurance that affected families will be supported in some form or another.

Over the coming days, and in time, what your people will need is for you to provide simple and accurate information on how to access services, specifically encourage, and make it easy to speak with a professional counsellor. Most people will not want to speak to a counsellor in the initial days or weeks as they support each other. It is in the long term when people need support from a counsellor or their Employee Assistance Program.

Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the tragic events. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.

Be mindful and respectful of individual needs. Some people may feel uncomfortable or scared of sharing their feelings. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.

There may be feelings of anger and hopelessness; there will intense feelings of anxiety and fear.

  • Establish an open-door policy that allows people to seek the appropriate care when needed.
  • If possible and when appropriate try to establish normal routines as soon as possible.
  • Encourage people to communicate their needs, rather than assume you know what their needs may be.
  • Maintain communication if an employee is away for any length of time.

An incident of this nature has the power to entirely consume those involved, especially when it has an impact on one’s feeling of safety and one’s family. As leaders and managers, it is within our control to provide support, reassurance and caring. For further guidance download the pdf or call our Manager Support Hotline on 1800 650 204.

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Coping with Financial Stress

There is no doubt that COVID has had a wide-ranging impact on all of us. We know that one thing people often worry about is their financial situation. Financial worry is normal. Financial security, job security and a steady income are important basic things we require to provide for our loved ones, to feel safe and secure. Financial security supports our wellbeing, such as leisure time and activities. The loss of that security creates uncertainty and anxiety. If we are not careful to manage our thoughts and emotions, financial stress can dominate our thoughts 24/7 and impact on our health and wellbeing.

The way we view our financial situation can shape our thoughts and feelings more generally. Financial challenges can occur at many times during our lives – getting married or separated, buying or selling a home, illness, reduced work hours or redundancy. Understanding financial concepts can be confusing, but getting your finances in order will help reduce stress and get you back on track. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available.

Here are some basic tips on reducing finance-related stress:

1) Learn to budget: If your financial situation is causing you stress, it’s vital to create a budget. Record all income and expenditure and know exactly what you spend on non-essential items. Be critical of what you are spending and cut down on any unessential items if necessary.

2) Pay off debt: Review and consolidate loans to help get them under control. Pay off your credit card debt and remember to start with the credit card with the highest interest rate.

3) Review fees: It’s important to review your bank and bank products as your life circumstances change. Compare and contrast bank fees and ensure you have the best products for your individual situation. Your bank manager can help talk you through the best options.

4) Save for a rainy day: Having an emergency or ‘rainy day’ fund can help alleviate financial stress knowing you have something in reserve. Start putting money away every month – even if it’s just a small amount, it all adds up.

5) De-stress: It’s normal to feel worried or anxious when times are hard but consider the impact financial stress is having on your life. Take time to relax and de-stress. Taking the right steps towards getting your finances in control will help ease stress.

How can Newport & Wildman help?

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your financial situation, remember you are not alone. Financial coaching can help you understand and manage money by teaching you financial skills that last a lifetime. Newport & Wildman’s financial coaches will assist you in creating a personalised action plan to manage your debt and provide practical information on your options and rights. Confidential guidance and support, is available, to expertly and respectfully guide you back to financial control.

To find out more about our Financial Coaching services, click here or call us on 1800 650 204.

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Don't rush, let's talk

Productive conversations take time. They contain personal reflection and emotional self-management, perhaps also preparation. They certainly utilise active listening, a desire to be clear, to collaborate and to follow-up. Rushing is the enemy of a constructive conversation.

Yet conversational skills are almost never taught in schools, and are actively being eroded with the ever increasing modalities available to us to communicate in short-hand – texting, emailing, instant chat (often with auto-suggest). Actively building your conversational skills, and taking time with others to have these conversations, takes effort. But it’s effort well spent. It says ‘I want to understand you and build ideas and ways forward with you, it’s important to me, and I’m willing to invest the time to do it.’ As a leader, the way you converse with those around you lets people know the degree to which you value them (or not).

There are important elements in a constructive conversation. Here are some of our top tips-

Most important is the ability to listen. Listening is not just something we do as we impatiently wait our turn to speak next. Active listening is something that feeds our understanding of the other person and the situation they are describing. We listen with our ears and eyes – not jumping to conclusions, and not being busy in our mind creating the next thing we are going to say. We are curious and patient. As the saying goes, active listening is not listening to respond. It’s listening to understand.

Empathy and compassion are important. Empathy is our ability to take the perspective and feel the emotions of another – to stand in another’s shoes. Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. A constructive conversation has within it the wish to help the other person express themselves clearly. Perhaps we ask questions to help this process, perhaps we check our understanding of what the other person is saying and feeling – for example, “it sounds like you are disappointed because...”, or perhaps we simply stay silent and listen without judgement.

Don’t over-talk. If you have explained what you want to say, stop. There is no need to say the same thing in three different ways just to fill the space (unless the other person asks for clarification). Over explaining can deaden a conversation.

Be genuine. Ulterior motives are often felt before they are heard. It puts people on guard and diminishes trust. Trust is built when the emotions you express are authentic, and your actions are in harmony with your words.

All these elements in a constructive conversation become even more important when there is conflict – actual or potential. To find out information about constructive conversations when there is conflict, you can refer to our tip sheet “Conversations that help us move through conflict.” (This resource can be accessed via the AccessMyEAP App or Login Areas)

Constructive conversations are focused on more than winning an argument or getting your point across. They are about deepening understanding and building ways forward. They enliven us. For more information or to arrange an appointment, call us on 1800 650 204.

Cover Image - Pexels Photo  by Ketut Subiyanto

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Leadership Series – Growth Mindset

Jenny Kahn, Learning & Development Consultant

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover” Mark Twain

A mindset is much like a mental lens through which we view the world, which drives what we do and why. Mindsets are patterns of thoughts and behaviour, shaped and influenced by several factors such as our past experiences, temperament, learned behaviours and beliefs. Whilst mindsets help us identify opportunities, they might also trap us in self-destructive cycles. The good news is that they can be transformed.

When we have a fixed mindset, our lens can become very narrow. When we adopt a growth mindset our lens becomes wider, enabling us to have a more open, expansive perspective.

Renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck1 coined the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. She says that success comes from mindset– or the way people approach life’s challenges, rather than talent, education, and intelligence. People with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe they have innate and unchangeable intelligence, skills and abilities. People with a ‘growth mindset’ embrace challenges because they believe they can learn from experiences, develop skills, and improve if they practice and persevere – which can lead to greater achievement.

Some considerations for individuals to promote our own growth mindsets include:

  • Hear the fixed mindset voice – you do not need to heed it
  • See things with a different perspective
  • Recognise that you have a choice
  • Challenge your fixed mindset- is it true? What evidence might disprove this?
  • Take action - explore different ways, learn new skills, seek out information and support

Dweck believes organisations that embody a growth mindset, supporting employees to share information, collaborate, admit to errors, and seek feedback tend to:

  • Encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some of these risks might not work out
  • Reward employees for important and useful lessons learned,
  • Support collaboration across boundaries rather than competition among employees
  • Demonstrate commitment to the growth of every employee through development and advancement opportunities; and
  • Continually reinforce growth mindset values with tangible policies

Are we aware of our own mindset and our fixed mindset traps and triggers which of those might get in the way of our personal development and growth? What are we currently doing and what might we do to encourage and adopt a growth mindset – for ourselves, for our teams and for our organisations? For more information and support in developing your growth mindset, please reach out to Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204.

Jenny Kahn is a Learning & Development Consultant with over 20 years of experience in Organisational Development, Organisational Change and Career Transition. She partners with our customers to promote and enhance performance, productivity and wellbeing for individuals, teams, and organisations across diverse industries. She holds an MBA, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and has accreditations in coaching, facilitation, Hogan, FourSight and Lego Serious Play.

1 Source: Dweck, C. (2016). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Harvard Business Review, 13, 213-226.

Cover Image- Pexels Photo by fauxels

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Leadership Series – Manage Change

Samantha Dounis, Learning and Development Advisor

“There is nothing permanent except change.” - Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

In the workplace and indeed in life, change is a constant! Change interrupts the flow, up-ends the status quo and very often leads to conflicts. Effective leaders embrace change, recognise diversity, and manage it well by encouraging inclusion and helping the individual, team, and organisation to thrive. 

Organisations are impacted by changes from various sources - external factors we have no control over, including globalisation, changes in legislation or the economy, as well as internal factors like technological improvements, operational efficiencies or changes in products and services. Resistance to change is natural and should not be discouraged, but rather discussed and understood, bringing in diverse voices to work through the issues.

There are various models that can be successful for managing change in the workplace. John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, laid out an eight-step change process.

Change Management Checklist

  • Create a sense of urgency
    • Establish change as a priority across all populations; everyone should feel the need for change – opportunities and benefits
  • Build a guiding coalition
    • Find a diverse group who will support the change. This may include a sponsor, a senior guiding team and a field team on the ground
  • Form a strategic vision
    • Develop a strategy to drive change, align it to organisational vision, include input from employees, keep it simple and easy to understand
  • Enlist a volunteer army
    • Communicate vision, be inclusive, and welcome input from many
  • Enable action by removing barriers
    • Empower others to act and implement change, include all levels of your guiding coalition
  • Generate short term wins
    • Introduce achievable short terms goals to generate momentum. Visible quick wins should be unambiguous and related to the change initiative
  • Sustain acceleration
    • Capitalise on early wins to drive momentum and keep moving forward
  • Institute change
    • Incorporate changes so they are sustainable and able to be replicated – make them stick

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates, Greek philosopher

 

Samantha Dounis is a Learning and Development Advisor who consults with customers to help them manage their learning and development needs. Sam has a strong background in account management and client services and is passionate about workplace mental health. Having completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) focused in Psychology at UNSW Australia, Samantha brings a wealth of experience in critical thinking, communication, project management, leadership, and research.

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The Great Resignation - Is it real?

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The Great Resignation is a label first coined in the United States to describe the way that people were reassessing their priorities and looking for purpose after the new experience of working from home and being faced with the challenges of the global pandemic. This reassessment often resulted in people leaving their current job for another one or choosing a completely different path. Although we may not be seeing the same trend in Australia, there are certainly indications that workplaces are facing pressure from their people to provide more in terms of flexibility, benefits and remuneration.  This pressure is due to three main reasons:

  1. Burnout and Languishing. Burnout is characterised by chronic depletion, and energy depletion resulting in the inability to function. Languishing is characterised by “feeling less”. Less motivated, less productive, less engaged, less enjoyable overall. A general absence of wellbeing.
  2. What is referred to as mortality reality. When faced with a global health crisis we question what is important and why we do what we do. Most often we look for purpose and meaning.
  3. Flexibility and agency. A taste of greater control over the workday was achieved due to the work from home experience and consequently people want more flexibility.

Not all workplaces have the same challenges

Some industries are comprised of a mix of essential workers who have remained in their workplaces while other roles have moved to work from home or a hybrid of the two. Back in 2018, there was a buzz around “flexible work”. However, there was a fear amongst managers and leaders that productivity would decline, and people may take advantage. The worldwide pandemic put the theory to the test with overwhelmingly positive experiences. People were trusted to work from home and by and large rose to the task, exceeding expectations and maintaining productive working remotely. Of course, over time variations in productivity based on several factors may emerge.

Hybrid is now the buzzword

 Almost 75% of people want to be in the workplace some of the time but most wanted a hybrid of work from home and work in the workplace.

Work from home benefits:

  1. More productive, more motivated, more likely to stay and little impact on inter-team relationships
  2. Autonomy to choose how and when they work, can live further from work, save time on commute and money on travel etc
  3. Trust leads to people working longer hours and taking fewer breaks than in an office environment.
  4. Gains in inclusion with fewer microaggressions related to in-person interactions. 

Benefits of working from office:

  1. Motivation from changing environments and people providing stimulus.
  2. Collaboration and culture, important people skills and ability to work in the office together.
  3. Opportunities for learning and incidental interactions which can have high value/impact.

Intergenerational expectations around work

Research shows that there isn’t much difference. People tend to have four top priorities regardless of generation. Differences in approach are more about age and life stage than about generational differences. Here are the priorities in order of importance:

  1. Meaning and purpose
  2. Money to support chosen lifestyle
  3. Community
  4. Leisure time or wellbeing initiatives

Where to now?

Our customers are telling us that their people are wanting more discussion, they want to be heard and have their experiences validated and acknowledged. They do not want to be “preached” to or converted to someone else’s way of thinking. At Newport & Wildman, we bring the discussion to organisations and their people via onsites, debriefing sessions and professional supervision. Our clinicians and coaches integrate with and understand your work environment.

If you need some support, please reach out to us here at Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204.

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Celebrate Difference

The creation of your workplace culture comes from all the everyday interactions between everyone who works at your organisation. From the way people say good morning when they arrive at work or join an online team meeting, to all-employee email communications, all these interactions help create your particular organisational culture. And placing the practice of diversity and inclusion as a central part of your people strategy helps shape these everyday interactions, encouraging a workplace where respect and trust are top of mind.

Diversity is who we are. It’s the mix of visible and invisible differences such as differences in gender, age, mental or physical ability, ethnicity, and values. Diversity is endless and can be compared with an iceberg: there are aspects that are very visible, such as gender, age, and skin colour; and other aspects that are under the surface, such as education and thinking style. Diversity in an organisation brings the differences in thought and perspectives that come with all different life experiences, backgrounds and demographics.

Inclusion is how we make people feel. Inclusion is helping people feel valued and free to be themselves, even if they look, think or behave differently from the majority. Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand. It’s been said that ‘diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance.’ One without the other leaves the process of creating a workplace where difference is embraced incomplete.

Did you know…

  • The most inclusive and diverse companies are 6x more likely to innovate[1]
  • Diverse teams are 87% more likely to make sound business decisions[2]
  • Companies with the most ethnically diverse leadership teams deliver 33% higher returns to investors[3]

Therefore, a culture where diversity and inclusion are regularly talked about, practised and advocated not only makes for a more equitable work environment, it also makes excellent business sense. Research shows we tend to prefer the familiar. Creating and supporting a diverse workplace is a conscious choice. Whatever your role, you can make a difference. Leading by example and encouraging others to do the same is vital – for example, you can aim to always respect and include others and encourage openness to hearing, discussing and debating differences of opinion. Importantly, it’s about noticing our own unconscious bias – the kneejerk assumptions and responses towards others who we perceive as different. It might then take conscious effort to consider the world from their standpoint, and to consider their ideas. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone you meet – but it does mean you strive towards respectful dialogue. Inviting this dialogue, actively pursuing diversity and inclusion, benefits business, benefits those who may become marginalised, and benefits us as we see the world through different lenses.

 

  • [1] Deloitte
  • [2] Cloverpop
  • [3] McKinsey
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5 Health Pillars

There are many ways to exhale, and one particularly helpful one is cleaning out the unnecessary and outdated information in our brains. Like a spring clean in our house or car, a cleanout of the mind requires taking time and reflecting on all aspects of life to see where you are at right now. When looking at the five pillars of health (social, emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual), the exhale starts by reviewing all five aspects. Looking and rate each pillar from one to five (5 being the best); how well do you think you are doing the following?

Self Reflection

When completing the rating, try to avoid comparison or judgment and just take some time to sit down and think. If you prefer pen and paper, use an exercise book to write down each pillar and its rating. Then list ideas of what may need to happen next with the above categories. Have a think about what is in balance in your life, what you are generally drawn to and what helps you heal – this may be a road map to assist you to see what you can do more of to get all five to a rating of 5.

Taking the time to reflect on how you process what is happening in the world and in your close environment (colleagues, family, and friends) is a big part of the exhale. Thinking about your approach to people and how you interact with them is a way to move after a big event. The reason being that those who are self-aware appear to have more empathy towards others; they are better listeners, can think more critically and report that their decision making improves. These all appear to be useful skills in a post-pandemic world.

If you are not sure where to start with your life audit, improving your wellbeing or would like some suggestions on how to self-reflect, start with our app, AccessMyEAP. Inside it has a wellbeing tracker that allows us to keep an eye on how we are carrying out our day-to-day wellbeing. Also, our friendly and supportive clinicians can also assist you with face to face, video or phone appointments focussing on self-reflection, growth or wellbeing. Contact Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204.

AccessMyEAP:

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It's About Time - Time Management Tactics

We all know logically that time is a finite resource. Yet many of us live as if it can be stretched so that we can fit more and more into a 24-hour day.  Sometimes we sacrifice sleep so we can get more done. Or we live our life imaging we can fit more in than we actually can, so we spend a lot of time rushing to complete tasks that actually need more time or apologising when we miss a deadline.

When we don’t manage our time and energy well, life can feel out of control, and we are constantly chasing our own tail. On the other hand, when we do manage these resources well, we find we can better prioritise, have a better balance in life both at work and outside of it, and have more time to relax, unwind, and do things that are simply fun, adding to our enjoyment and wellbeing.

Time management is something we can learn and improve. It can be defined as “the decision-making process that structures, protects, and adjusts the way we spend our time.” There are three key skills to do this well.

  • Awareness: we think realistically about time by understanding that it is a limited resource.
    • This includes bringing self-awareness to how we prefer to schedule our time. Do we like to have thinking time first thing in the morning or later in the day? When do we prefer to do our regular admin tasks? It’s better to organise the day so it fits with the way we work most effectively. Being aware of time can help us act more autonomously, rather than simply reacting to others’ demands.
  • Arrangement: design and organise goals, plans, schedules and tasks to effectively use the time that is available.
    • The urgent-important matrix is a way to think about priorities. The horizontal axis goes from urgent on the left to not urgent on the right. The vertical axis runs from important at the top to not important at the bottom. Arrange tasks in this matrix to help decide how to organise your time. For example, anything that is urgent and important is prioritised. Anything that is not urgent and not important is put at the end of the to-do list, or perhaps let go.
  • Adaptation: monitor use of time while carrying out activities, including adjusting for interruptions and any changes in priority.
    • For example, try to reduce the errors made in estimating how long something will take; break down long-term challenging goals into smaller parts that are easier to achieve one at a time over shorter periods of time; create do-not-disturb time slots for concentrated effort.

Being more organised with time management takes discipline and effort – you may need to create new time-management habits. Also, note if there is any emotional pay-off from not organising yourself well. For example, If you leave things till the last minute, do you get an adrenaline rush when you make it over the finish-line just in time?  You might have to give this up if you want to be more time-organised.

Counselling support can help you to identify when stress and anxiety may be affecting your time management skills and how to move forward. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service. Call Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204. 

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Returning to the workplace

As managers and leaders discuss and plan for a transition back to the workplace, many of us may be starting to think and experience a range of feelings at the thought of what this means. We also recognise the many people that have continued to go to the workplace over the last two years.  All our thoughts and feelings during these uncertain times are normal as we are all different, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. For those of us who may be feeling a little anxious or uncertain about returning to the workplace, here are some ideas to think about while you are preparing for the transition:

1.  Acknowledge your feelings and anxieties. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to process your feelings. Do not judge yourself and tell yourself how you “should” be feeling.

2. Identify your concerns and think about what you can control and what is out of your control. Focus on what you can control, e.g. how will I manage being around more people? What can I do to keep safe? Plan and think about what will help you.

3. Take it day by day - you are not returning to “normal” there may not be a normal like it was. Recognising that things will be different is important. Try to go slow and avoid doing too much. Give yourself time to adjust, share stories and talk about how you are feeling. This is reassuring and helps with the awkwardness of the transition, which doesn't feel normal or comfortable yet.

4. Ask your manager for information, ask questions, share your concerns, connect with peers and share problem-solving. Others are probably feeling similarly, and there is comfort in sharing and problem solving together.

5. Remember your self-care routines which helped you before, regular breaks, eat healthily, get exercise, sleep well, engage in enjoyable activities and relaxation. And importantly, with the easing of physical distancing restrictions connect socially (and safely) with people who are important to you.

6. If you continue to struggle, ask for help from your peers, friends, family or a professional.

Remember, as your EAP, we are here to support you whatever the nature of your concerns. For a confidential conversation with one of our experienced clinical professionals, please contact Newport & Wildman on 1800 605 204.

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Harmony Week 2022

Harmony Week on the 21st-27th of March, celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. Harmony Day which falls on the 21st of March coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

With around 45 per cent of Australians born overseas or with at least one parent who was, Harmony Week has always been a popular way for workplaces to showcase and acknowledge their cultural diversity. Celebrating Harmony Week can take any form you wish – big or small, simple or challenging. Events can be a simple multicultural morning tea or a guest speaker at an all staff meeting. It creates an opportunity to think, talk about and recognise how our differences and our similarities make our workplace stronger.

For more information see the Harmony Week Website.

One of our favourite ways to celebrate at Newport & Wildman is over food! Whether that means bringing in different cultural dishes or sharing recipes, it's always such a wonderful time to learn something new about your colleagues and of course try some amazing food!

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In March we celebrate International Women's Day, Harmony Week and many more but we encourage you to celebrate and implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace across all of March and throughout the year. To support you through this, below are a reminder of two great resources.

National LGBTI Health Alliance
Inclusive Language Guide: Respecting people of intersex, trans and gender diverse experience 

Learn how to use inclusive language in a respectful way with this Inclusive Language Guide

Universal Music UK
Creative Differences: A handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries

Learn about neurodiversity, which refers to the infinite variation in cognitive functioning that can lead to differences in thinking, attention and memory. The handbook explores the experiences of people with specific facets of neurodiversity such as ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and Tourette Syndrome.

To arrange a counselling session, please contact Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204.

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Sleeping Well

How many of us can truthfully say that we regularly feel fully rested and refreshed after the last few years we’ve had? Many people often underestimate the importance of sleep to our overall mental health and wellbeing.

We know we need sleep but how do we get a good night's sleep? 

It's important to have sufficient, regular, good quality sleep so we can function effectively in our busy lives and help to maintain strong, robust immune systems. The importance of short “nana naps” cannot be underestimated, as well as short, still “zone out times” during the day to help us to refresh our brains and bodies. If we review our sleep pattern there are probably some small things we can do to make our routine healthier – and we’re likely to then be surprised by the difference they make.

Some Useful Tips

  • Aim to go to bed at a similar time as often as you can so you can have enough hours to help repair and heal the body from the stressors of the previous day.
  • Spend a quiet period immediately prior to turning in to help your body and mind settle. That means no phones, tv, tablets etc.
  • A warm bath or shower before bed can trick the body into calming down, loosening.
  • Get to know your body and the effects of alcohol, spicy food and other stimulants too close to your bedtime.
  • Darkening the room so your body automatically prepares itself for rest can be helpful.
  • If you regularly wake up during the night and have difficulty falling back to sleep, remember that it may help to get up, have some water or a soothing tea, sit and quietly breathe, rather than lying in bed tense and frustrated that you are awake. Once we notice you are feeling more soothed and settled return to bed.
  • Some people find it helps to read for a while or have a shower before trying again. It is to do with interrupting the pattern of tension and trying something different that may help to soothe your mind and body.

It is worth formulating your own list of practical, healthy, accessible, common sense ways to soothe your body and mind, so you can get optimised times of rest and rejuvenation.

Counselling support can help you to identify when stress and anxiety are affecting sleep and how to move forward. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 1800 650 204.

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Support through a natural disaster

Australia is no stranger to natural disasters, e.g. bushfires, droughts, cyclones and floods. These events impact entire communities, including organisations, their employees and families. The disruption to daily life can be significant. People may be forced to evacuate their homes and workplaces leaving cherished possessions behind as they turn their focus to survival. It is common to experience a range of intense emotions following a traumatic event like a natural disaster. The immediate loss of control and personal safety is frightening and can lead to severe or acute shock, distress and anxiety. People who have faced potential loss, injury, or even death from natural disasters will experience a range of feelings immediately, weeks and even months later. The memories and associated fear that a similar event will reoccur can be long lasting.

For individuals, see our tips and strategies (download pdf here).

As a manager, there are a few things you can do to support your employees (download pdf here):

1. Normalise reactions: Accept that people will experience a range of emotions and that it is normal. Once the event is over it doesn't mean people's feelings go away. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure people that their intense feelings are normal given the disaster.

2. Try to keep calm and lift spirits through community involvement: Provide reassurance that "we will get through this together" and focus on the things that were managed well, e.g. the brave responses of emergency services. People feel united in the shared experience and can support and comfort each other. This connection and sense of helping is critical to coping.

3. Ask how you can help: Ask if there's anything that you can do to assist employees or if there is anything they need? e.g. flexible hours, transport or belongings.

4. Do not catastrophise: It is common to reflect on the "what ifs" or "what might have been". Do not speculate on how much worse it could have been. Avoid comparison of stories as each person has a right to their feelings.

5. Encourage people to talk about their experience because keeping it inside isn't helpful - avoid reassurances such as "it could have been worse". It's common for people to want to escape their reality, they may deny or withdraw. They may need to delay their emotional response while they focus on survival or practical things so check in regularly and gently.

6. Avoid probing questions: Curiosity is part of human nature. Asking people for the details of a traumatic experience may bring it back or trigger other emotions, wait until they are ready to share their story.

7. Encourage a familiar routine: Routine and normal day to day activities provide a sense of control and security, which is reassuring when a natural disaster has a significant effect on their lives.

8. Returning to work: Having a sense of purpose and connection is essential to recovery and often work provides this. Facilitate this process by offering options such as flexible hours. The recovery process takes time, and there are often ups and downs so plan for people to have setbacks. Each individual will be different and recover at their own pace.

As a trusted partner your EAP is here to help: Remind your employees about their confidential EAP service and let us help you support your people. For further guidance call our Manager Support Hotline on 1800 650 204.

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How to Adopt a Growth Mindset in 2022

With a New Year often comes a sense of new beginnings. Many of us start with resolutions for change, to turn over a new leaf, to bring fresh energy to our work and life.

This time of year is a good time to reflect on our mindset. Change is inevitable, but the way we approach it depends very much on our mindset. When we apply a growth mindset to change, we are more likely to discover a way to flourish.

As we continue to adapt and learn to live with COVID our mindset may be challenged, and we may push up against an inner “I can’t”. A growth mindset is framed around relying on and building on our strengths, taking one step at a time, and knowing that the viewpoint we take is always within our control. An “I can’t” may be an indicator that you’ve discovered one of your fixed mindsets. When that happens, it can be worthwhile to first take a step back and assess whether this is actually true; if you then see a possibility that “I can...”, ask yourself, what would be different if you saw this challenge as an indication you’re now learning something new, rather than simply a block that you can’t overcome? Then you might choose to take steps forward and lean into that challenge.

When learning about your different mindsets, the support of a counsellor or coach can be invaluable. You will have a person who listens attentively, without judgement. You will know that your conversation is completely confidential. And you will know that the person you are talking with has your best interests uppermost in their mind. It can be extraordinarily liberating to have conversations like this – when the other person has no agenda other than helping you to find the best possible outcome for you.

So as this work year gets underway, consider calling us and discovering how a counsellor or coach can support you as you work on those resolutions to make positive change in your life and to bring fresh energy to the people and projects that are important to you.

We wish you a productive and energising 2022!

To arrange an appointment, call us on 1800 650 204.

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Counselling myths

 

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MYTH 1 - What about Confidentiality? Someone will find out, my boss and colleagues will know.

Although the EAP counselling sessions are paid for by your employer, the counsellors are independent and anything you discuss with a counsellor is confidential unless; there is a risk of harm to you or someone else or disclosure is required by law. While we do need to collect a few details from you when booking your first appointment, your personal information is kept confidential. Newport & Wildman has refused to work with organisations who cannot accept our confidentiality code of conduct. Your organisation respects the privacy and confidentiality of the services provided to you to improve your wellbeing.

MYTH 2 - If I have a problem my friends and family will talk/help me through it.

Although you may receive support from family and friends one difference between speaking with a counsellor and a close friend is that the counsellor has a broad knowledge and understanding of human behaviour. Sometimes it also just helps to speak with someone objective who isn’t emotionally involved with you or the situation.

MYTH 3 - I should see a counsellor only if things get really bad.

It’s better to recognise the warning signs and speak to a counsellor before you feel completely overwhelmed. Often early intervention via professional counselling support leads to better outcomes sooner and keeps you on a healthy track, preventing problems in the future. However, counselling becomes particularly important if you experience:

  • Sleep problems and exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to relax

MYTH 4 - Counsellors only work with people with a mental illness.

Challenging life events happen to us all at some point – no one is immune. Counselling actually helps you deal with life’s everyday problems without waiting for them to become out of control. You may be facing work pressures like managing deadlines, meeting targets and/or handling an office conflict, while finding it hard to fulfil your personal and family commitments. Counselling can also help you address personal issues that may be impacting your ability to do your job well. These can include:

  • Relationships
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Grief and loss
  • Major life changes
  • Parenting issues
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Drugs and alcohol

MYTH 5 - As a leader, I should be able to handle problems on my own – I shouldn’t have to ask for help.

Today’s workplace is complex, leaders are expected to manage difficult situations and people both of which can be quite taxing and tough. Good bosses know that great leadership comes from supporting and developing the best people for the job. Sometimes speaking with a professional can help provide evidence-based tools, structure and objectivity to a situation. The decision-making lies squarely in the hands of the leader but a Newport & Wildman counsellor can give the insights, tools and resources to support your decision making.

If you would like to book an appointment, call Newport & Wildman on 1800 650 204.

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Newport & Wildman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
.

indig_flags.jpg

Newport & Wildman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.