Post Covid Stress Relief for Leaders
LAUREL: Welcome everyone, to Coffee Coaching and Calling, a live podcast created for coaches, leaders, and helping professionals that are on a mission to lead a successful and heart-centered life. Your hosts today are myself, Laurel Elders. I'm, an MCC with the ICF. And I have with me Tamica Sears. Tamika is an Executive Leadership Coach and also holds an ICF PCC credential. We are joining you today from the Institute for Integrative Intelligence, an ICF Level One and Level Two accredited school headquartered in the United States, where it is our mission to elevate human potential through the art and the science of masterful coaching. Today, we're going to be focusing on post-COVID issues that executive leaders and managers are facing. So, an important conversation!
TAMICA: I'm so excited. Yes.
LAUREL: So excited to talk with you about this. I just wanted to kind of dive in because I've spoken to so many leaders and employees that are still experiencing post COVID stressors, and the statistics that are coming out are pretty interesting. The first one that really caught my attention was from Forbes, January 23. Forbes said, "new data suggest that for almost 70% of people, their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor. It's equal to the impact that their partner has."
TAMICA: Wow. Huge. Yeah.
LAUREL: I'd love to get your thoughts on. If you're seeing any trends with that statistic.
TAMICA: Yeah, that's a stat that I think most leaders need to know. Right. I don't think that they all completely understand the level of impact that they have and the level of stress that they can cause. Um, work is you spend so much time at work. Right. Some people spend more time at work during the weekday than they spend at home. Right. And who impacts your work life the most? Right. Your direct manager and if you have someone who is doing great things and they are taking care of you, and I have clients that they're just like, my manager saw me through this in the most brilliant way. Right. They went through COVID. They had family members with COVID their manager was there cheering them on and they're okay. And then there are people who are like, I got COVID. And after three days, my manager was like, come back to work. Right. My kid got COVID. And my manager was like, well, kids don't really get COVID. And those are people that are just defeated right now.
LAUREL: That is a really good point. Um, it reminds me of a friend that I was talking to and he said that his boss had a complaint filed against him and the boss was complaining to him and just basically said, "I don't understand why people can't just come and talk to me. " And he was like, you can't talk to you. And I can't tell you that in this moment, there's no safety to do that.
LAUREL: So you have people showing up with quiet quitting, or you have the great resignation that is still happening.
TAMICA: Right. And people don't understand. The managers don't understand that with the gig economy now, and with the cost of everything skyrocketing, there are people who are like, you know what? I'd rather just go live with family and drive Uber. Yeah. No one wants to be mistreated anymore. This was such a wake-up call to people to understand what life is truly supposed to be about. Right. Life isn't supposed to be about your work. I feel very lucky I fell into a job that I absolutely love. And doing HR, doing coaching. And one of my very best friends, she cracked me up. She's like, "Tamika, HR cannot be your hobby. " But I understand that most people, that's not how it is. Right. If you're lucky enough to love your job, understand that. Ah, that's a rarity. Right. And people need to at least like what they're doing, like the people, and be treated well, or, uh, they're just going to say, I don't want to do this anymore.
LAUREL: Yeah, well, and I think it's interesting, too. I'd love to get your thoughts on company cultures, because I've seen companies that have kind of default cultures. They don't realize the culture they're in. It just happened.
LAUREL: And I think COVID brought some of that up for some companies, like, oh, culture shifted and we didn't catch it, and now know, holding in on itself.
TAMICA: Right. Um, yeah.
LAUREL: What are your thoughts?
TAMICA: And then you have the cultures know, the managers and leaders thought was great, but really it was a culture of control. And so when people went to go work from home, they couldn't control them anymore. And things just like skyrocketed, they're like, we don't know what's going on. And some of those are the companies that are putting in the very strict return to work and doing the monitoring and surveillance of their employees, which I just think is just like, the weirdest thing. There are people who are literally their cameras are monitoring them every minute during the workday. That is just crazy to me.
LAUREL: Yeah. So stressful.
TAMICA: Yeah. And, uh, it's those cultures that people are like, oh, no, things are good. Are they really? When last did you talk to someone that is actually being impacted by the culture to find out what the culture actually is?
LAUREL: Right. Yeah. The good news about culture is that it can shift. Yeah. It can be created to really be anything. So to help companies, um, be more conscious of what is the actual, like, a culture audit, what is the actual culture? What do I think it is?
TAMICA: Right. Because the perception very often does not match reality. And it's so funny because when you're a leader in the organization, you could work for what feels like a completely different company. Mhm. Yeah.
LAUREL: I was talking to another friend, and, um, she was saying that the company did a survey and this year they got maybe four people filling it out because they're like, uh, nobody cares, nobody's listening. We have been trying to tell people what needs done and nobody hears us. And so the few that did turn them in, it was just kind of like, okay, results. But if you look at how many people spoke up, it was barely- that's the problem.
TAMICA: Right? And that's the thing, is when people stop talking, that's when you know you have a serious problem. Mhm, because that means that people have over and over said, there's a problem, there's a problem, there's a problem and you haven't addressed it. So when you get four people, even in a company of 44 people is still really low to turn in a survey.
LAUREL: That is so true.
LAUREL: Uh, well, and just imagine productivity. If you have people coming to work just, um, resentful or shut down the odds of them being productive, just common sense tells us that's going to be a lot lower than somebody that's engaged in the mission and a part of solutions and is kind of excited to go to work and feels inspired still. There's challenges, right? Those don't go away, but it's a different experience for the employee and the.
TAMICA: Big return to office. Whole sweeping change some companies are doing that's not going to make people be more productive. That's not going to make people necessarily be more engaged. Right. Because that may not be what they want. Work from home isn't for everyone. I used to hate working from home. It um, wasn't until my role shifted a bit that I was more comfortable working from home. But for the people that are and the people that this has made their lives so much easier, do you think that going back to the office is going to make them more productive? No.
LAUREL: My husband's in that position right now, actually, where yeah, they're like, well, we just feel like it's a good idea. There's no need for it in some positions at that company. Um, but it's just like, well, this is what we should do. And so some people are like, but I get more done here because I'm not talking to a bunch of people than I do if I don't need to commit. It's interesting what we should do.
TAMICA: Company culture, it's sometimes similar to engagement, right? It's a deeply personal thing. And if your company culture is like, we're going to do happy hours every Friday and we're going to socialize and we're going to have pizza and we're going to do office Olympics, that's not for everyone. Right. So the person that's working from home and they get to talk to the five people that they enjoy every day, their culture is different, but it is a culture that works for them. So I'm like, leave those people alone.
LAUREL: Yeah, that's a really good point. So get this. I don't know if you've come across this one yet, but Fortune. com, this came out in, um, June of 23. They had an article that said a company replaced all of its managers with coaches and employees became 20% more productive and much happier.
TAMICA: I did see that. I did see that. And it's so funny because, um, I'm sure you've coached people before that they have like, impostor syndrome. They're like, I don't know my employees jobs as well. I don't know what they're doing. I'm like, you don't have to know how to do their jobs. You need to know how to lead them to greatness. M, yeah. Right.
LAUREL: Management versus leadership.
TAMICA: Right. And I think that having managers who know how to coach and managers who are truly skilled in coaching is really the only way forward. Because this whole, uh, command and control, I need you to go stand up and go over to that bookcase and get the third book from the left and bring it back to me. You have 32 seconds to do that, is just not working anymore. And as you know, as coaches, it's not about command and control, right? It's about giving people freedom. Right. Giving them the agency. You're empowered to think, you're empowered to make your own decision. You're empowered to, um, take yourself out of that situation, look from it from a different perspective. And managing doesn't do that. Right?
LAUREL: Yeah, it's so true. And I think the good news for managers and leaders is that you don't have to go do something just as big as replacing all your managers. Get them coach trained when they become coach-like, the culture naturally shifts. I mean, coaches are trained to be solution generators and to evoke ideas and creative solutions to stuck points.
TAMICA: Right. And sometimes, uh, it's the pointing fingers or what happened then, or rehashing old issues.
TAMICA: Coaches don't do that. Right. Coaches, it's like, what are we doing going forward? How are we going to make this better going forward? Right. And that is what managers need. Right? Managers need to let's put together a plan. Let's make this happen. Yeah. Yes.
LAUREL: Okay, so the next statistic, um, this one was from the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. Quote, managers who adopted a transformational leadership style had the biggest positive impact on their employees mental health.
LAUREL: Transformational, um, leaders inspire others by painting a vision, encouraging team members to engage in creative thinking and tailoring their approach to the individual needs of each employee.
TAMICA: Right. Again, there goes back to it's a deeply personal thing. People are people. So I come from a pretty big family, family of seven, one boy, the rest girls.
LAUREL: Oh, wow.
TAMICA: Right. And we're all similar, but we are all so very different. And I can't imagine if we had parents that treated us all as though we were exactly the same. And, uh, I think now that I'm talking about this, I'm like oh, light bulbs going off. I think one of the reasons this may hit so close to home for me is I have an identical twin sister. And growing up, there were people that acted like we were just kind of the same person or interchangeable, and my parents never did. And so they allowed us to grow as individuals and be ourselves, whereas there were some people that kind of, like, pigeonholed us into, like, we were just the twins. And so I think that may be one of the reasons why I see the need to treat people as individuals and give people individually what they need.
LAUREL: Absolutely. And I think the amazing thing about coaching is it helps leaders and managers to meet someone exactly where they're at, because you're not telling them what to do. You're asking questions that pulls out different parts of them that they may not have even known, like different gifts and strengths.
TAMICA: Right. And it does help I think coaching helps people understand that they have strengths that they didn't realize that they had that they can use in ways that they didn't realize that they can use. Right. It's like that ability to have you ever met someone that's kind of down on themselves? And you're like, man, I wish you could see yourself the way that I see you.
TAMICA: I feel like coaching does that.
LAUREL: Mhm I love that. I love that analogy. All right, so another statistic, um, BetterUp studied 852 organizations that comprised of 30,000 people individuals to determine the impact of a coaching culture on organizations globally. They found that organizations with a strong coaching culture see far more significant gains in revenue growth and return on shareholder value than their competitors.
TAMICA: I believe it, and it's one of the things that I'm, uh, sure you hear all the time. Putting people over profits. Right. People over profits. People over profits. I think that coaching is a really good way to put your people first and still have those profits. Right. It's an understanding that you can put people first and make more money than you even thought possible. Because when you invest in your people and you empower them and you believe in them, they'll do more than you ever thought possible. Like talk about getting productivity. Mhm when you truly believe in someone and when you say, I think you can do this, let's co create a plan for you to be able to move forward with this, and you put it in their hands and you help them make decisions, they're totally bought in. Yeah.
LAUREL: It's a completely different experience. And I know for me personally, if I believe in the mission or what I'm doing, I will bend over backwards for a company or for a mission and really go that extra mile.
TAMICA: Right. I agree. I absolutely agree. And there are companies that, over the last few years, have taken pretty significant stands on different topics. And I think that the employee base enjoys that. Right. Like, you want to work for a company that you believe in what they're doing. You believe in what they believe in, you believe in their mission, you believe in their values. And I love that companies now are sometimes taking that stance to say, this is who we are as an organization. Uh, if you don't enjoy it, you may not enjoy working here, but come try us out. We may be able to change your mind, but they are letting people know what their core beliefs are. And I love that. Yes.
LAUREL: Mhm me too. So what do you see as post COVID challenges? Do, um, you see any patterns or just any trends?
TAMICA: Oh, yeah. So, first of all, the mental health thing, right? Burnout is absolutely a thing within human resources professionals. People are just like, do you not understand what the last three years have been like for us? Because there are a lot of HR professionals that become that everyone's sounding board in their place to go vent, in their place to go cry, in their place, to have workplace therapy. And at some point, you get really burned out on that. Especially because as HR professionals, we're not therapists, right? We're not trained on how to separate our emotions from the emotions that that person is bringing to us. And for the HR professionals that care right? And most of them do, it's been a really trying time. These are the employees that these are my people, and my people are not okay. And that's powerful, and it causes a lot of distress. And so for the companies that aren't paying attention to your HR people, please do, uh, they need your help. They need a spa day and a vacation and a trip to Hawaii, because it's been a lot it's been a yeah. In the industries that have been on the front lines, I think for nurses and doctors and therapists, it's been a really trying time.
LAUREL: Yeah, it really has. Um, I'm curious, a lot of statistics are showing the benefits of emotional intelligence and leadership, the benefits of a coaching culture, and being coach like, as a leader, um, who do you think can benefit the most from coach training from an organizational standpoint?
TAMICA: So, from my perspective, I think that training managers, um, leaders, to have coach like behaviors is more impactful, because then you can see that downstream impact. Right. So if every leader with a team of ten people has coach like behaviors, and they're coaching their teams, that's ten people who are going to be having a better day right. A better existence. And it's great to have executive coaching, obviously great to have executives that, uh, know how to coach. But you get that multiplier when you do train those frontline people on how to coach their employees. Yeah.
LAUREL: Um, I watched a video from someone, I'll have to post the link because I don't remember what it was now, but, um, it was someone in the military. And instead of telling, um, the employees what to do, which is very typical military, what people might think top down, he coached them. They said, what should I do? And he would just ask them questions to get them to think about what should I do? And before he knew it, everyone was up and running. They all owned their positions and he could actually be the leader and not manage them. And not manage I think the difference.
TAMICA: There, and that's a really interesting story, because the military, you don't think about them m ever coaching. Right. Uh, but that is the difference. I think managing people is very different than leading people. And we're so used to managing people, when really you manage a process, but you lead people.
LAUREL: Yeah, that's a great distinction. How would you define "coach-like"?
TAMICA: I would define coach like as, um, behaviors that seek to understand versus seek to tell. Mhm. So for me, coaching, it boils down to asking versus telling. Right. So, like you said, when someone says, how do I do this? Let's think about this. How do you think that you should do this? What do you think the first step would be? And breaking things down for people, helping people really kind of dig deep and figure it out. Because there are a lot of times that someone says, how do I do this? When they do know, right? They may be unsure of themselves. They may, um, just not want to disappoint you by getting it wrong. And when you let people truly work through that process on their own, you're helping them tremendously.
LAUREL: Yeah, it's so true. I remember, um, when I was in a director position and I started becoming more coach like. And I remember kind of second guessing myself at first. Like, really? Is asking questions going to help them? I know the answer, I can just tell them.
LAUREL: And, uh, I was shocked at the answers that the employee came up with that I honestly were more creative than what I had to share. And that's when I just took a step back and said, oh my gosh, this works. This is powerful.
TAMICA: Right. And for companies that are seeking innovation, that's the best way to go about it. Right. Because if you want to innovate, you need to get ideas from everyone. Right. Like, you should ask the person that's coming to wash off the chalkboard, hey, what do you think about that? Before you wash it off? Right. Get ideas from everyone around. And you don't get that when you are telling people what to do, because essentially then you're telling them how to think. Right. Yeah.
LAUREL: They just stay in that box of the limitation that you've given them. And I was reading how the brain can't both be creative and under stress. So I was looking at some of, um, the things that people are saying about post COVID stressors in the workplace? One was, um, "the culture was so toxic, I could see people aging in front of me. "
LAUREL: Yeah. Um, "I wake up with a pit in my stomach every Monday."
TAMICA: That's awful.
LAUREL: Um, the other one, "my work anxiety is off the charts. " Right. I mean, talk about stifled productivity, stifled creativity, and, um, not to mention just living with, um, tension in the workplace.
TAMICA: Right. Uh, can you imagine being the manager of someone who says, Monday morning wakes up and I get a pit in my stomach? No one should want to be that person. Right. No one should want to have people feel that way about them.
LAUREL: So any thoughts on, um, let's say there is a leader or manager out there that is tuning in and noticing, oh, yeah, this is going on in my company and it feels too big. What would you say might be a first step towards cultivating a coaching culture?
TAMICA: So even if they pick up a book about what coaching is right. Go to your website. You have some awesome resources on your website just to figure out even just those fundamentals of what is coaching. Um, how is it different? That's one thing that I just sing your praises, scream it from the hilltops. Because being in HR for so long, I thought that I knew what coaching was. I was like, whatever, I'm going to coaching school, not going to learn anything here. And it was so transformational because I had no idea what coaching actually was. And it's boiled down. It's like asking questions, but there's so much more behind that, and there's so much more, um, science even behind it that it's not just the same as asking questions, because you can ask someone questions, and it's not a coaching conversation at all.
TAMICA: Like, you can say to someone, well, what do you think if you did it this way? That's not a coaching question, really. Right. Um, and I think being an HR, we thought that it was and it really wasn't. And so even getting just some of the higher level resources that you offer, I think can change the way that somebody coaches their team. Thank you.
LAUREL: Yes, I do agree that the science behind it, because I was thinking, just even as we're talking, we're saying, oh, we ask questions, but there is a science. We have a whole class on, um, high impact having a high impact coaching conversation and coaching session. There's a process that, um, the coach and coach, like, leaders know how to engage.
TAMICA: Right. It's a much different conversation. And there's the, uh, age old debate. Like, I've been coaching for forever. I don't need to go to school. I've been doing coaching. I don't need to go to school. School is just a rip off. I don't agree. It was invaluable to me to actually figure out what true coaching was. And I would not have figured that out if I didn't get training. Same yeah.
LAUREL: Same. I thought coaching was, um, kind of counseling and guiding and mentoring. And that first day of class, I was blown away and that it was its own distinct process and just, um, baffled at how empowering it was and that I didn't find it sooner. And I know we have a lot of students that come to us and just say, oh my God, you don't know what you don't know. So I thought I was coaching all these years and there's so much more to this. I had no clue.
TAMICA: Yeah. That's why I was talking to someone the other day and I was like, every HR professional should know project management, change management, and coaching beautifully. Mhm put. Yeah. Nice. Again, we think we know, but we don't know. It's crazy how much we don't know. Um, and when I hear people say, oh, that was a coaching conversation, now I like phrase, I'm like, oh, that was feedback. It's its own skill in and of itself.
LAUREL: Yes. Well, and I find it empowering, too, to understand the distinctions. Sometimes mentoring might be needed, sometimes the direct feedback is needed. But then coaching around the feedback, coaching around the mentoring and knowing, oh, I'm doing this now for this purpose, and I'm purposefully not doing this right now. But before you understand and are trained on the distinctions, that could be very, um, murky and unclear for folks.
TAMICA: Right. And then you think that you're coaching when you're really not. And you are coaching when maybe you need to be giving direct feedback and you don't know when to use which skill.
LAUREL: Mhm yeah, the other thing that I love, um, that I've seen is a really positive impact that coaching brings to organizations and leaders is the psychological safety component.
LAUREL: I'd love to get your thoughts or experiences on that.
TAMICA: Yeah. Psychological safety, that's a big one. And there are companies all over that feel like, oh, we are psychologically safe, we have a psychologically safe environment. But sometimes when I go into those organizations and I say to the employees, okay, well, um, if this or this were to happen, would you feel comfortable talking to your manager about that? And they're like, oh, no, gosh, no. Then it's not really a psychologically safe organization or environment. Right. A psychologically safe environment means that you can go to your manager and say, I have concerns about this. I didn't understand that. Um, I need more help with this. And they're not going to judge you and they're not going to make you feel bad about it. And that is one of the biggest things with coaching, is having that non judgmental conversation. Mhm and that's hard for a lot of people, right. To leave that judgment at the doorstep. Because I've spoken to leader upon leader upon leader, who they say, this person has so many years of experience, they should know this. I have told this person this seven times. They should know this. Take those shoulds and just wipe them away. It's not about what someone should right. It's about that person in that moment, giving them the help that they need to be successful. Right. Yeah.
LAUREL: Because there's obviously something blocking forward movement.
TAMICA: Right. And it's not a psychologically safe environment when you bring in those. This person should know this.
LAUREL: Mhm, that's a really good point. Right. And just knowing, I think, um, even the coaching skills of how to ask a deeper question to identify where is this stuck point? What is really going on here? So we can move beyond it versus staying at the surface and just getting frustrated.
TAMICA: Right. And when you have that understanding, um, of I'm not here to judge, um, I'm here to explore. I'm, um, here to help this person as much as I can. And I am not going to help this person by making them feel like they should know this or they should not have to ask this. And that's some of the biggest things. And the people are like, oh, my door is always open. Well, no one is going to want to walk through an open door of judgment.
LAUREL: Well put.
LAUREL: That is so true. Nice. Well, this has been really informative, and this is definitely a topic that is dear to my heart. I have a big passion for helping leaders, um, not struggle in their leadership positions. And I know you do, too.
TAMICA: Yeah, me as well, because like I said, it's that multiplying factor. Right. When you help leaders, you're helping the whole team. Yes. And I know your mission is to have every leader be a coach. Right. And that helps my mission. My mission is to help organizations never lose employees due to bad leadership or, poor organizational design. And the number one way to get there through not having bad leaders is to have leaders that coach. Yes.
LAUREL: And understand principles.
TAMICA: Yeah, absolutely. Nice.
LAUREL: Well, good news is that, um, if you are listening to this and your company is struggling, you have so many options. Coaches are here. Tamika does amazing work as a coach. We actually refer to her, um, if an organization is seeking a coach. And, um, the other thing is coach training. Coach training is available and getting employees trained can be a phenomenal shift. I know in our classes, um, we see people have a shift after the second class. The principles just speak for themselves. So pretty profound. All right, any final words before we wrap up?
TAMICA: Get coaching and get coach training.
LAUREL: Got coach. We have a new bumper sticker. Got coaching. Yes. No need to struggle. It's amazing, some of the solutions that are available, and they're a lot simpler than people might think, too.
TAMICA: Uh, thank you for having me. This was fun.
LAUREL: Thank you, Tamika.
LAUREL: This is great. Thank you so much for sharing your. Wisdom. Um, and how can people find you?
TAMICA: SearsCoaching. com. Yeah, and I'm also on LinkedIn, if you search me on LinkedIn. And those are the best ways to find me.
LAUREL: Wonderful. Thank you so much. And thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We hope these messages have been a lantern to your path as you expand your success us as a coach, leader, or helping professional. You can join the conversation further at IntegrativeIntelligence. Global - bye for now.