For how many is the memory of the
Christmas break just that — memory?
Holidays are normally time for restoring balance in people’s lives — balance in work, personal relationships and health — time for putting work into perspective.
Unfortunately, without thought and application those good intentions and that perspective can evaporate as quickly as resolutions fuelled by New Year’s bubbly.
In the annual business planning cycle we devote lot of effort to defining and setting work goals, but how many put as much into achieving their personal goals?
The reason I ask the question is that increasingly fulfilling personal goals is inextricably linked to enhanced organisational performance, yet as country and as employers, we do very little to help people achieve their goals.
People in full-time employment spend most of their time at work — much of who we are and our esteem comes from our jobs. But how well are we performing in the workplace? Is there untapped potential? Most know the answer is yes.
Organisations have undertaken change initiatives to improve the bottom line but in doing so have often neglected the “survivors” who don’t operate at their best due to their personal imbalances and subsequent stress.
What can be done? How can balance be achieved to reduce stress, improve health, decrease medical costs, stimulate ability, improve morale and enhance behaviour?
The new frontier of personal and organisational performance enhancements is being able to tap into personal insight, and making targeted changes.
A start is to identify the areas of our personal lives that we are dissatisfied with and have the most need of attention. Talking it through with our partners or friends can be next step. The priority dimensions for work can then be determined.
Management guru Stephen Covey sums it up as: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Now using priority dimensions as guide we can begin to develop an overview of the ideal situation.
Think ahead to next Christmas, New Year or thereabouts and picture what would be happening if your life was in complete balance and you felt excellent. If for example the relationship with your partner is priority for improvement, identify what you can do to achieve this.
It may be by spending more time together on regular basis. Plan for it, put it in your diary and keep record to look back on. You might need to organise babysitters — find them and book them. You might need to do more, but this is start.
Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families provides wealth of insight, examples and techniques into enhancing family relationships and is worthwhile read for those who are looking for this sort of improvement.
A personal goal may be your career and you may see yourself working in different aspect of your current job or new one altogether. The question is what must you do to get there?
Maybe it is training that you need, or mentoring, or career guidance. There are specialists who work in this area and numerous books on the subject. Once again, plan the action, diary it, do it, and record what happened, much as you would do with your business plan and action.
So maybe two or three priority areas become the basis of your personal plan, remembering the objective of the personal plan and subsequent actions is to enhance life balance, reduce stress and improve personal performance.
If getting started seems too hard because of the pressure you have been under during the start of the year, you may need to think about some more direct strategies for coping with stress.
Some jog, others use gym. There are techniques you can pick up in stress and time management training. For some meditation and self-hypnosis have been effective.
The point is that these techniques are all ways of helping you to gain insight, achieve balance and reduce stress so you can achieve your personal goals.
For too long this whole topic has been consigned to the “soft” area of HR. Luckily organisations are now starting to realise their wellbeing is directly linked to the wellbeing and health of their employees.
Personal development is taking on distinctly hard financial edge — those who do it well will reap the rewards.
John Butters is consultant with Human Resources Consultancy, Greene Hanson.

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