Here’s a 10-point audit to help you assess your stress level

Manfred Kets de Vries at KnowledgeINSEAD:

Consider your life today and answer the following questions:

  1. Do you feel that your life is out of control and that you have too many things on your plate?
  2. Do you often feel confused, anxious, irritable, fatigued or physically debilitated?
  3. Are you having increased interpersonal conflicts (e.g. with your spouse, children, other family members, friends or colleagues)?
  4. Do you feel that negative thoughts and feelings are affecting how you function at home or at work?
  5. Is your work or home life no longer giving you any pleasure?
  6. Do you feel overwhelmed by the demands of emails, messaging tools and social media?
  7. Do you feel that your life has become a never-ending treadmill?
  8. Are you prone to serious pangs of guilt every time you try to relax?
  9. Have you recently experienced a life-altering event such as a change of marital status, new work responsibilities, job loss, retirement, financial difficulties, injury, illness or death in the family?
  10. When you are stressed out, do you feel that you have nobody to talk to?

If you have answered “yes” to most of these questions, stress might have started to build up. If you feel close to your breaking point, it’s high time to take action.

 

We are verbs, not nouns

In conversations with managers, I often hear people say something like “Well, I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, I’m” an engineer / a finance person / a lawyer, etc.

I share Stephen Fry’s consideration in The Guardian:

“We are not nouns, we are verbs.

I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.

I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”

A first-person account of switching from engineer to manager

David Chua on Medium:

“Don’t do it if you consider it a promotion. (…)

Also don’t do it if you want to micromanage or control your team members, or want the authority to correct bad behaviour. There are other ways to solve that problem that don’t involve switching your day-to-day work entirely. (…)

However,

If removing blockers, helping others to grow, building alignment across cross-functional teams, and resolving conflict is more fulfilling than writing code and solving technical challenges, then the management track is something you might enjoy”.

“The mindset of improving how your team functions, rather than giving up and trying to do everything yourself, is a key trait of a leader and team player. Having a fancy job title doesn’t make you a leader, and being the manager can in some ways make it harder to lead as people tend to build some distance between themselves and their managers.”

View at Medium.com

Cultivate extreme indifference to both praise and blame

John Berryman’s advice to writers:

I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.

Vanity and self-pity are bad for any professional.

h/t to Maria Popova

What many bosses will not admit in public

They want machines to replace you as soon as possible.

“Few American executives will admit wanting to get rid of human workers, a taboo in today’s age of inequality.  So they’ve come up with a long list of buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise their intent:

Workers aren’t being replaced by machines, they’re being “released” from onerous, repetitive tasks.

Companies aren’t laying off workers, they’re “undergoing digital transformation.”

A 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 53 percent of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72 percent by next year”.

Source

Your job might be killing you

There are 120,000 excess deaths per year attributed to ten workplace conditions and they cause approximately $190 billion in incremental health care costs. That makes the workplace the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. — higher than Alzheimer’s, higher than kidney disease.

  1. Being unemployed sometimes as a result of a layoff.
  2. Not having health insurance.
  3. Working shifts and also working longer periods, e.g., ten or twelve-hours shifts.
  4. Working long hours in a week (e.g., more than 40 hours per week).
  5. Job insecurity (resulting from colleagues being laid off or fired).
  6. Facing family-to-work and work-to-family spillover or conflict.
  7. Having relatively low control over one’s job e.g., workload.
  8. Facing high work demands such as pressure to increase productivity and to work quickly.
  9. Being in a work environment that offers low levels of social support (e.g., not having close relationships with co-workers.
  10. Working in a setting in which job- and employment-related decisions seem unfair.

Both articles report the findings published by Jeffrey Pfeffer in Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It.

I have not read the book yet, but I definitely will.

What does work flexibility look like?

A meta-analysis of the existing research on flexibility identified the fundamental components:

  • Where we work,
  • When we work, and
  • How predetermined our schedule is.

These component parts lead to six distinct types of flexibility:

  1. Remote: “Work from anywhere” – Remote employees keep standard office hours but are location independent. Their office is wherever they are.
  2. DeskPlus: “Partially office-based” – DeskPlus employees keep standard office hours and are partially location independent.
  3. TravelLite: “Minimal travel requirements” – TravelLite employees have minimal to no travel, with a maximum limit of 10% travel annually.
  4. TimeShift: “Standardly unconventional hours” – TimeShift employees reorder their working hours to create a set but unconventional schedule (outside of 9-5 conventions) that optimizes their productivity and performance.
  5. MicroAgility: “Freedom to adapt” – MicroAgility employees have the autonomy to step away from their work 1-3 hours at a time to accommodate the unexpected.
  6. PartTime: “Reduced workload” – PartTime employees serve in senior-level roles; they have the experience and skills to meet the company objectives on a reduced hours schedule.