Before being furloughed as the coronavirus crisis began, Leading Results’ Jane Hemus explains the new challenges facing people who are still working in roles that have become very different during the COVID-19 pandemic
Your job may be very different now to what it used to be.
You may find yourself in a position where many of your colleagues have been furloughed yet you have remained in your role in the business.
The volume of work coming in remains high whilst you help keep our country’s key workers on the road and in the places they need to be.
Your role doesn’t even feel your own anymore because your support structure has changed – you’re now having to work in areas you’re not as familiar with which can feel uncomfortable and make you doubt yourself.
You may even be in a position yourself where you are isolating from your family members due to them being higher risk and you are in contact with more people.
Firstly, you are doing an amazing job. You have been left in this role because you are the most suitable person and your business knows you can manage in this uncertain time. However, you also need to look after yourself to enable you to perform at your best.
To help, we should consider where we spend our energy and whether we are in a positive or negative mindset. While considering these two areas, this shows the zones we work in throughout the day and whether they help or hinder us.
We would all love to stay in the ‘Thriving Zone’ where we feel engaged, confident, optimistic and stimulated. This is us at our most productive. When we’re here, our behaviour is infectious and we motivate others. We’re positive and proactive, we’re happy and so are our teams.
However, this is a high-energy place to be and unless we take steps to keep ourselves here, we’re going to start draining our tank very quickly.
As our tank starts to drain, one of the first thing people notice is a change in our behaviour. Maybe we’re more snappy, unapproachable or withdrawn.
This noticeable change is often due to increased pressure in some form and you now feel frustrated, irritable, worried, envious and fearful. We are no longer motivating the people around us. In fact, they are probably avoiding us and you may even find they are showing similar signs – behaviour breeds behaviour.
When we’re here, this is known as our ‘Survival Zone’ and is still draining our tank because it takes a lot of energy to be here.
The good news is we have a choice. We can make a mental choice to do something different to help us get out of this horrible place. If we don’t make a choice and we stay here for long periods, unfortunately the choice may get taken away from us.
Naturally our bodies can’t constantly stay in such high energy, draining states for long periods. If we don’t make a conscious choice to do something different we could end up in the ‘Burnout Zone’.
Our body takes us here when we’re overloaded and is forcing us to recover. Here we’re likely to feel exhausted, empty, sad and depressed with very little energy to pull ourselves out of it.
Ideally, we want to avoid this zone completely but if we do find ourselves here it will take specific actions to get us out.
So how do we avoid the burnout and survival zone, whilst optimizing our time in the thriving zone?
We need to make time to replenish and preserve our energy. How we do this will look different for everyone but the feelings we have when we’re here are likely to be similar.
Feelings such as calm, reflective, at ease and peaceful should be what we feel and just what we will need to fill our tank back up and replenish some energy.
Whether you do this by having a lunch, going for a walk or run, making a cup of tea or just having five minutes away from everything it’s completely up to you.
Think of this like your phone; if you are constantly using it without putting it on charge it will eventually lose its battery and at some point, won’t work at all. If we regularly put small amounts of charge in, it will keep going and effectively do what you want it to do.
You must make time for the ‘Recharge Zone’, or your time in the Thriving Zone will be greatly reduced. If you don’t there is a danger that what you achieve and motivate others to achieve, will also decrease.
Look after yourself first and then you can look after everyone else.