Health is a loosely defined word. It ranges from human health and wellbeing to collegial relationships, to collaborative culture, and of course includes engagement, productivity, and profit. When you strive to positively impact workplace health, consider all of the above. Especially if your goal is to be an irresistible leader.
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Start with a self-assessment of your leadership capabilities, focus, vision, team, and overall organization. Couple this with hard data to give you a baseline to work from. Then set some high-level measurable goals in each category. There will be a lot to unpack when it comes to strategy and mindset for meeting these goals. So empower and engage others by building a ‘Work Health Team’ designated to establish baselines, develop strategies, and monitor progress. Set regular meetings so you can determine what they need from you, including resources and support. And ask them to provide weekly updates so they can be accountable and get real-time insight on work health changes.
To help, here are a few areas that directly impact work health and should be continuously evaluated.
Top Challenges: As you step back and examine the collective health of you, your team, and your organization, what are the top three to five challenges you’re facing? What are you doing to overcome them. Your team doesn’t expect you to have all the answers, but they need your guidance and support. So, if there are big challenges that you’ve been reluctant to face or tackle, empower your Work Health Team to dig in and collectively design strategies for moving through or overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of work health. This may include working with human resources to establish activities to make personal health a priority. They may also create fun and exciting challenges to build a healthier culture, increase personal well-being and productivity, and ignite profit bursts.
Critical Decisions: As a leader, you’re tasked with making final decisions. But you don’t need to do so in isolation. Working with a mentor, coach, and your team will help ease the tension and ensure you’ve conducted your due diligence before deciding. Still, there will be those that must be made solely by you. Some are tough and unexpected, but directly impact work health. Don’t put those off. When it comes to personnel changes, goals, and performance expectations, these can’t be pushed off until later. Act swiftly and be decisive with the overarching goal of a healthy workplace in mind. If two people are disrupting flow, don’t hope it will go away. Get in there and make the critical decisions necessary so toxicity won’t spread.
Workload Balance: You can’t do everything, and you can’t be everywhere. You must simplify, eliminate, and delegate tasks whenever you can. This is often difficult when you’re a person who craves control. I’ve often heard my leadership clients use the expression, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” While there is a time and place for this to be the case, when it’s the norm, it’s unhealthy. First, it breaches trust and demonstrates you don’t feel comfortable handing over the reins or empowering team members. It’s unhealthy. Over time this will catch up, drain, and exhaust you. And it will be costly to the organization in terms of productivity and effectiveness. Without delegating, you’ll become a one person show if you survive long enough to continue. Remember, there’s also probably a lot you can eliminate. Things don’t always have to be done the same way. Explore the obvious and the unconscious habits, and remove what no longer serves you.
Reporting Schedule: This action isn’t being militant, it’s being smart. Establishing metrics for guiding improvement remains one of the most challenging aspects of leading change. Here again, be proactive in seeking assistance in identifying meaningful ways to measure improvements in desired areas.Take time now to go back and develop a plan to get things right when it comes to selecting and using relevant metrics. Even though that workload is waiting, calls are coming in, and meetings are on the books, take a day to work with your Work Health Team and come up with a plan for tracking, reporting, and scheduling. Figure out how to measure progress and find things that slip through the cracks. Then set a monthly or quarterly plan for checking progress and re-evaluating your process.
Ongoing Recognition: Critical to workplace health is ongoing recognition. When you let others know they are on the right track, or honor achievements, it builds trust and inspires teams on to excellence. Cited in a Harvard Business Review article entitled Why Employees Need Both Recognition and Appreciation, researchers from the London School of Economics found that financial incentives fall short in motivating employees. “According to an analysis of 51 experiments, these incentives may reduce an employee’s natural inclination to complete a task and derive pleasure from doing so.” The author goes on to share how appreciation is about the person. Lifting them up by recognizing their “inherent value” as a colleague and human being. Several studies concur and go on to support how ongoing recognition results in less sick days and a healthier workplace culture.
Now that you know what needs to be done, turn the lens back on yourself and what you need to do as a leader. Here are four ways to elevate your irresistible leadership, especially when it comes to improving yourself to positively impact work health.
Determine Work Time: Pick your schedule and the number of hours you will work.10-20-30-40-50. Whatever aligns with the organization's needs and where you are in your career and life. Maybe you've invested lots of time, money and intellectual capital into building your team or the processes and technologies that drive productivity and profitability. If so, it could be that you've earned the reward of working fewer hours and engaging in strategic leadership.
Identify Musts: Start each day and week by identifying your mission critical activities. Identify those that are the things that you, and only you, must do without fail. Once you’ve established your list, schedule them in your planning and commitment system. If conflict occurs, don’t delete, just adjust. These are not optional, these are required. Activities like planning and organizing, team check ins, reporting, project updates, and coaching, are just a few examples of what MUST be done.
Delegate Now: Don’t clutch a task so tightly that it turns into a weight. That applies even to mission critical activities that must be done, but could be done by others. Instead, delegate. If your team member makes a mistake, it’s how they learn. You’ve been there before, and you understand. Coach them, or if time is critical, hire them a coach so they can learn along the way. Give them the chance to grow and succeed. Otherwise, you’ll be a lone ranger and that’s unsustainable and unhealthy, for you and your organization.
Eliminate Waste: Health is impacted adversely when waste bottles up. This is true in so many areas of activity, from the obvious to the not so obvious. If you see something that is in the way, useless, messy, or just wasteful, stop and eliminate it. For example, don’t keep meeting with the same folks that are undermining productivity and good health. I had a client who let guilt rule her into continuing coffee meetings with negative people. This weighed her down and distracted from other more constructive activities and engagements. Once she said “no thank you” her life and health improved. And so did the health of the organization. Evaluate now who and what needs to be eliminated from your sphere of engagement.
These core practices are essential for improving your personal health and the overall health at work. I don't mean to oversimplify. Because putting them in place will require considerable diligence, time, and support. And it will not be easy for most leaders. But if you're responsible for improving health at work, they must be done.
Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple companies and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .