How to Evaluate and Measure Your Stress Level

Over the past few posts we’ve looked at the six different types of stress which include work, family, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.  The key now is to figure out what your stress level is and then, if it’s in an unhealthy place, take steps to fix it.

The assessment I like to use is called the StressBuster™ which is based on Hans Selye’s work gives us a visual of what zero stress (death), healthy stress (eustress), and distress (death) looks like and assigns a number.  On the StressBuster™ tool, you’ll rate each of the stress areas on a scale of 1-10.  Remember, the higher the stress is, the higher the number you’ll use.  Then you’ll do an average of all the stress numbers (add them up and divide by 6) to get your stress number.  Then just circle the number on the StressBuster™ tool to see where you are.

To download the StressBuster™ tool, click HERE

If your average is high, just pick the highest numbers in your stress list and work on those.  No need to work on fixing family stress if the number is healthy, instead, focus on the high numbers.  Refer back to the previous six posts for strategies on how to alleviate them.

Simple as that!

 

 

What a Mad Cat Can Teach You About Stress

“You’ll never sink this boat! … Come on! You call this a storm? … Blow, you son-of -a-bitch! Blow! It’s time for a showdown! You and me. I’m right here. Come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat!” 

LT Dan Taylor – Forrest Gump


Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about five different types of stress:  Work, Family, Physical, Relationship, and Emotional.  That leaves us just one more.  I won’t tell you what it is yet.  Let’s see if you can figure it out:

What happens when you pin a cat in a corner?

That’s right, it raises up its back, spits and hisses and comes at you with claws.  When you pin a cat in a corner and leave it no way out, it fights.

That’s kind of what life is like with spiritual stress.

Spiritual stress happens when there is no outlet beyond just what you can grasp with your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing).  Spirituality is any practice that enables a person to work in a sixth sense (no, not the creepy kind of sixth sense).  It’s a comfort with things beyond the tangible.

Now, when you think of spiritual practices, just realize this isn’t always a religious thing.  People practice spirituality in any number of ways.  There is meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, nature walks, mindfulness, prayer, fasting, walking around on hot coals in your bare feet, etc.  If you’ve identified some sort of spiritual practice and it works for you, you probably don’t experience spiritual stress.

On the other hand, like LT Dan in the quote above, spiritual stress can impact other areas in you.  A disconnect in spirituality when one needs to feel that spiritual connection can result in stress.  Like the cat in the corner.  Like LT Dan on the mast of Jenny.

So how can we handle this kind of stress?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself if you even have some sort of spiritual practice.  Again, this isn’t always religion.  Do you set up quiet reflection time?  Do you devote any time to sixth sense activities?
  2. Find a practice that works for you.  Look for people that you admire and appear to have confidence in this area.  Ask them what they do and how they practice.
  3. Research.  Maybe start a journey into this realm by just reading a few books.  The hot new trend is Mindfulness.  There are a ton of apps for Android and iOs that have guided meditation.  Pick one and just test drive it.

Of all the stresses we’ve talked about, this one is probably the most controversial.  I’m offering it as an option when the other five areas are in check and yet your stress is still high.  In the next post I’ll give you a tool called The StressBuster™ which will let you self-identify your particular stress area but think about spiritual stress for the moment.

You can learn a lot from an angry cat…

RecruitCon 2018:  We’re All in This Together

Recruiting is all about relationships – your relationships with candidates and especially your relationships with your hiring managers, which can make or break your recruiting success. RecruitCon 2018 closes with an eye-opening look at how to earn your hiring managers’ respect and successfully team up to create an open stream of communication that helps you change their perception of recruiters as “order takers” for their talent wish lists.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Drill down to reveal what the hiring manager is really looking for in a candidate
  • Work together to fill positions with smart communication tactics to get the job done
  • Set deadlines to keep the hiring process going smoothly
  • Help a hiring manager make a decision
  • Work through interpersonal issues with a difficult hiring manager so you can meet your overall goals
Date: May 11, 2018
Time: 2:50 p.m.
Event: RecruitCon 2018: We're All in This Together
Venue: Hilton Nashville Downtown
Location: 121 4th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37201
Registration: Click here to register.

Williamson County MTSHRM Chapter Meeting:  How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative

Effective managers are key to any organization succeeding.  If you are looking to bring a strategic edge to your organization, training and developing those managers is a key component.  This presentation will show the importance of balancing performance management, strategic goals and initiatives, wants and needs of employees and managers, and tight budgets while working to implement a culture of learning.  The outcome will be managers who are more effective and a workforce that is motivated, educated, and turns over infrequently.

In this session, participants will learn to proactively initiate (or adeptly respond to a request for) a “management training program.”  Specifically, they will learn techniques to identify need, gather relevant data, leverage performance management, and communicate findings to senior management. They will also learn how to keep a program energized and permanently ingrain it into the organization’s culture, all the while communicating its success in the language of business.

Date: May 10, 2018
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Event: Williamson County SHRM Chapter Meeting: How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative
Sponsor: MTSHRM
Venue: Franklin Marriott Cool Springs
Location: 700 Cool Springs Blvd
Franklin, TN 37067

Virginia SHRM State Conference:  How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative

Effective managers are key to any organization succeeding.  If you are looking to bring a strategic edge to your organization, training and developing those managers is a key component.  This presentation will show the importance of balancing performance management, strategic goals and initiatives, wants and needs of employees and managers, and tight budgets while working to implement a culture of learning.  The outcome will be managers who are more effective and a workforce that is motivated, educated, and turns over infrequently.

In this session, participants will learn to proactively initiate (or adeptly respond to a request for) a “management training program.”  Specifically, they will learn techniques to identify need, gather relevant data, leverage performance management, and communicate findings to senior management. They will also learn how to keep a program energized and permanently ingrain it into the organization’s culture, all the while communicating its success in the language of business.

Date: April 23, 2018
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Event: Virginia SHRM State Conference
Venue: Omni Hot Springs Resort
Location: 7696 SAM SNEAD HIGHWAY
Hot Springs, VA 24445
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Washington State Employment Law and Human Resources Conference:  How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative

Effective managers are key to any organization succeeding.  If you are looking to bring a strategic edge to your organization, training and developing those managers is a key component.  This presentation will show the importance of balancing performance management, strategic goals and initiatives, wants and needs of employees and managers, and tight budgets while working to implement a culture of learning.  The outcome will be managers who are more effective and a workforce that is motivated, educated, and turns over infrequently.

In this session, participants will learn to proactively initiate (or adeptly respond to a request for) a “management training program.”  Specifically, they will learn techniques to identify need, gather relevant data, leverage performance management, and communicate findings to senior management. They will also learn how to keep a program energized and permanently ingrain it into the organization’s culture, all the while communicating its success in the language of business.

Date: April 20, 2018
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Event: Washington State Employment Law and Human Resources Conference
Venue: Seattle Sheraton Hotel
Location: 1400 6th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Louisiana State SHRM Conference:  How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative

Effective managers are key to any organization succeeding.  If you are looking to bring a strategic edge to your organization, training and developing those managers is a key component.  This presentation will show the importance of balancing performance management, strategic goals and initiatives, wants and needs of employees and managers, and tight budgets while working to implement a culture of learning.  The outcome will be managers who are more effective and a workforce that is motivated, educated, and turns over infrequently.

In this session, participants will learn to proactively initiate (or adeptly respond to a request for) a “management training program.”  Specifically, they will learn techniques to identify need, gather relevant data, leverage performance management, and communicate findings to senior management. They will also learn how to keep a program energized and permanently ingrain it into the organization’s culture, all the while communicating its success in the language of business.

Date: April 5, 2018
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Event: Louisiana State SHRM Conference: How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative
Sponsor: Louisiana State SHRM
Venue: Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Location: 2 Poydras St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Registration: Click here to register.

West Tennessee SHRM Meeting:  How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative

Effective managers are key to any organization succeeding.  If you are looking to bring a strategic edge to your organization, training and developing those managers is a key component.  This presentation will show the importance of balancing performance management, strategic goals and initiatives, wants and needs of employees and managers, and tight budgets while working to implement a culture of learning.  The outcome will be managers who are more effective and a workforce that is motivated, educated, and turns over infrequently.

In this session, participants will learn to proactively initiate (or adeptly respond to a request for) a “management training program.”  Specifically, they will learn techniques to identify need, gather relevant data, leverage performance management, and communicate findings to senior management. They will also learn how to keep a program energized and permanently ingrain it into the organization’s culture, all the while communicating its success in the language of business.

Date: March 13, 2018
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Event: How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative
Topic: How to Implement a Successful Strategic Management Development Initiative
Sponsor: West Tennessee SHRM
Venue: Union University
Location: 1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305
Public: Public

Lessons in Performance Management (from a dog trainer)

Shiloh and Rusty (with their buddy Tiger)

As a management development consultant, I’m often asked what the best way to motivate people to get them to perform is.  I’ve got lots of tools and models and I can even quote some theory if you like.  But maybe the quickest, most efficient way to answer that is what I recently learned from my dog trainer.

We have two Goldendoodles named Rusty and Shiloh.  They are both younger than two and full of energy so we decided to enroll them into dog obedience school.  Their trainer, Dave, is guiding us in getting them to walk beside us, sit on command, and not do annoying things like jump on people and eat food off the kitchen counter.

The first tool he encouraged us to get was a pinch coller.  They look absolutely medieval but believe it or not, the prongs don’t pinch hard enough to injure the dogs, just get their attention.  Dave suggests two forms of motivation.

  1. Correction. When a dog KNOWS how to obey a command such as “sit” or “heel” but doesn’t do it then it’s appropriate to give a quick tug on the leash to remind them to comply.  You never drag the dog.  It’s just a quick snap on the leash.
  2. Reward. When a dog KNOWS how to obey a command and does it, then a reward is appropriate.  It could be a pat, at treat, or in the case of Rusty, a chance to retrieve the Frisbee.

Simple right?  Only it’s not simplistic.  The key of course is teaching first.  There is no reason to punish if the dog has not mastered the command.  It just confuses them.  Once they know, then it’s a simple matter of pushing obedience.

Of course, mistakes are common.  The other dog in our class is a pain-in-the-ass beagle named Teddy.  Teddy is less than a year old, barks and howls incessantly, and drags his hapless owner around by the leash.  To get him to behave, his owner continually feeds him a stream of dog treats.  None of this works.  According to the trainer, you can’t train obedience by bribing a dog into compliance.  They see the treat as a reward for misbehaving.  Teddy might have to do summer school.  Or at least his owner should.

So what does that mean for humans?

  1. Teach. Make sure your people KNOW what it is they need to do and more importantly, how to do it correctly.
  2. Correct. Correct poor performance on the spot.  Do it quickly, privately, and constructively.  Just a quick snap of the proverbial leash.  Don’t hold a grudge, shame them in public, or treat them like idiots.  Get them in line right away.
  3. Reward. Reward verbally by noticing good performance.  No need for treats, gift cards, donuts, etc.  They are getting paid to do the job.  They have their tangible reward.  If you want to do special recognition, wait for a major, over-the-top contribution that was not ordered or expected.

And for Heaven’s sake don’t reward them in order to get them to perform.  That’s just bribery.  You’ll never win this battle.

Yes I know dogs and humans are different but these principle work for both.  Get busy driving winning performance from your team. It’s your job as The Boss.

How to Handle Relationship and Friendship Stress

Typically, our work consumes around 40 hours of our week.  That leaves the remaining 16 per day and 48 on the weekend for those in our lives.  If we have a family, they usually get the majority of those hours but often, our relationships outside of family get a share of those too.  Since for many of us, work stress drains us, we look to recharge with relationships outside of work.  These involve both family AND friends.  Since we’ve already looked at family stress as a topic, let’s turn our attention to those other relationships, typically our friendships.

In a perfect world, our friends fill in the gap between work in family in a perfect harmony.  We don’t live in a perfect world though!  If you find your friendships are becoming more of a burden than a benefit, YOU might be the cause!  Here are some suggestions I have on becoming a better friend.

  1. Ask Yourself What You Want out of the Friendship.  Misguided expectation can be a friendship killer.  Do you want your friends to replace a dysfunctional family relationship you have?  Make up for some unfulfilled need you have?  Be that support system you rely on to get through life?  If so, then you’re asking an awful lot.  Certainly having friends to “do” life with is nice, but don’t expect them to play a role they were never intended to play.
  2. Ask Yourself What You Bring to the Friendship.  50/50 is about is fair as you can get in terms of contribution to a friendship.  If you’re not putting at least that much (in terms of time, energy, resources, patience, etc.) then you’re the reason the friendship is stressful.  Do your part.
  3. Ask Yourself WHY you’re bringing less than 50% to the relationship.  Has the friendship run its course?  Are you hanging on to the friendship out of obligation or to some other expectation?  I remember years ago at a high school reunion (before Facebook made those all but obsolete), many of us reconnected and promised to stay in touch.  But after the high of reliving the good old days of high school faded, so did those commitments.  Over the years, most of us simply outgrew our high school friends.  If your stressful friendship has outlived its original purpose, maybe it’s time to communicate this and move on.

Humans are wired for relationships.  We function best when we have them, both family and friendships.  If they aren’t working out, it’s best to look first to our own contribution or lack thereof.  If you want the kinds of friends who don’t interrupt you at inconvenient times, burden you with your baggage, don’t put in as much effort as you do, or take advantage of you, then be sure you’re not doing the same to them.   We can’t control what other do, but we sure as heck can control what we do.  Don’t be the stress that’s causing you the stress.