Have you ever felt as if managing your team is like trying to herd cats?  Each with their own personalities, ideas, work styles, ambitions …. and flash points?

Being a manager these days can sometimes feel more like being something between a diplomat and a firefighter – spending all your energies on keeping the team together and simply functioning, rather than developing and being truly productive.  Or to put it another way, putting out fires rather than igniting the potential within the team.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Pressures on time and resources are commonplace and everyone is working flat out, so it’s hardly surprising that managers often sense that their team is just about coping rather than being truly effective, as if the cogs never quite kick into alignment.  The problem is, if ‘just about coping’ is the norm, then you’re only a short step away from flare ups, avoidable errors … or worse.

The problem of course is knowing what to do about it.  You want to be a manager, not a mediator.  If only there was a way of getting everyone to take more control over their own behaviours and emotions, some kind of fresh approach that gets to potential flash points before they have a chance to build.

Stress is often used as a catch-all diagnosis for these sorts of situations.  ‘Everyone is so stressed’ can become a common refrain and one that can, over time, become self-reinforcing: if everyone is stressed, this can legitimise exhibiting the symptoms of stress, and even absence.  It can also act as a convenient scapegoat, allowing individuals to abrogate responsibility for taking control of their own lives: ‘it’s not me, it’s the environment we work in’.  Stress is real, but accepting it as a given can translate as an admission of failure of a situation having got out of control; which begs the question of how to regain that control before problems occur.

Sensory Intelligence Consulting works with teams to help them do just that.  Our approach is based around enabling individuals to regain some equilibrium in their lives by getting in sync with their senses. This will result in:

  • Improved teamwork and productivity
  • Improved staff loyalty and retention
  • Reduced absenteeism and sick leave

Most stress management techniques ask people to learn new skills, often just at the very time when they have little capacity to do so.  Our highly practical approach is rooted in making small, day to day, changes which together can add up to significant shifts in how people manage their outlook and stress levels.  Our approach is based around building greater awareness of the seven senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, plus two others, balance and body position) and showing people to tweak what they do already to achieve step change, rather than introduce new techniques and demands on their time.

Wouldn’t you prefer to have your cats purring rather than fighting?

By Tania Barney, Director of the Sensory Intelligence™ Consulting, UK branch.  She is a registered Occupational Therapist with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), UK.
Professional qualifications:  B App Sc (OT), M App Sc (Health Sciences), University of South Australia.

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