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Once & For All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work

Archive for the ‘Stress Management’ Category

Might You (or Someone You Know) Need an Attitude Adjustment?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Organizations have been through a lot these past few years.  A certain amount of fatigue/disenchantment/frustration is normal. BUT, left unaddressed, these things can multiply and create a widespread epidemic of negativity.  The Negativity Self-Evaluation tool below can help assess where attitudes might be slipping towards the negative.  The debriefing information that follows provides steps for formulating an Attitude Adjustment Action Plan.

Negativity Self-Evaluation

Where do you rate on the negativity scale? Score yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 for each question, and try to be honest with your answers.

1                     2                        3                           4                          5
Never             Seldom             Sometimes                 Often                    Always
1. Do you come into your workplace feeling enthusiastic and confident?                 _____
2. Do you focus on your goals even when you’re having a bad day?                        _____
3. Do you look for positive solutions when things don’t go your way at work?          _____
4. Do you set a good example for co-workers?                                                     _____
5. Do you communicate well with your colleagues?                                               _____
6. Do co-workers feel they can come to you for help?                                            _____
7. Are you satisfied with the quality of work you do?                                              _____
8. Do you find healthy ways to relieve stress?                                                       _____
9. Do you collaborate with others to meet the team’s and your goals?                     _____
10. Are you open to changes in your routine or environment?                                  _____
Total  _____

If your total is under 25, you are highly susceptible to negativity and may be affecting others with your attitude.  Continue to evaluate your performance on the job.  If you can’t break the pattern of negativity, ask for outside help from a supervisor, a friend or Human Resources.

If your total is between 25-35, you’re on the borderline; you can fall victim to negativity, particularly during stressful times.  When feeling pressured, give yourself a negativity “spot check”.  Ask yourself if your work is up to par, if you are snapping easily, or whether your co-workers are acting differently towards you.  These could all be signs that you need to take a deep breath and re-evaluate your attitude.

If your total is over 35, you probably don’t succumb to negativity often.  But, you may not be completely immune to it.  Think about how you interact with colleagues, especially when you’re stressed. People probably look to you as a model for positive behavior, so make sure stress doesn’t get the best of you.  And, if you see others inciting a climate of negativity, try to help the person(s) find a positive solution or encourage them to seek assistance.

Debrief – The Attitude Adjustment Plan
Here are several good steps to take whenever you feel yourself becoming negative. (If you’re a manager or co-worker who needs to point out negativity in another person, see the special Note at the bottom.)

Take responsibility for your attitude and acknowledge the difficulties your negativity is causing.
Without an honest acceptance of the responsibility for and impact of your attitude, there is no motivation to change.

Practice “responding” rather than “reacting” to situations.
A reaction is often an instinctive, unproductive way of dealing with difficulties (negative people often “react” by blaming others for problems without seeing the part they’ve played in creating the problem).  On the other hand, a response requires thoughtful consideration of:
– how can I take control of the situation vs. being a victim of the situation?
– what productive strategies and actions can I take?

Attempt to identify underlying causes for the negative attitude.
Try to uncover some of the reasons behind what you’re feeling. Is there a higher amount of stress than usual in the workplace?  Are there unresolved issues with co-workers?  Have you been feeling undervalued or overworked? Could family problems, debt, or illness be a factor?

Address the situations that cause stress.
Once you see what is causing the problem, try to find a workable solution and look for ways to prevent similar situations in the future. If need be, talk it over with another person.  It’s amazing how an outside perspective can shed light on things.  If there are conflicts you don’t feel comfortable handling on your own, ask a supervisor or HR person for assistance.

Note:  If you are in a position of pointing out another person’s attitude problem, make sure you do these things in addition to suggesting the actions listed above:
– discuss the problem in private
– begin by giving positive feedback
– handle emotionally charged subjects with sensitivity
– focus on performance, not personality

Based on material in the Leader’s Guide for The Attitude Virus: Curing Negativity in the Workplace.
© CRM Learning.

Need help in this area? Bad attitudes in the workplace can spread like a virus and infect everyone in the whole organization. With CRM’s The Attitude Virus program, help employees learn to spot unproductive attitudes in themselves and others, and counteract them with positive behavior.

Get the Best Out of Stress

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

A positive side to stress? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But think about it. Isn’t some level of stress an important factor in meeting any goal? Don’t most people need that edge of energy that comes with working hard to meet challenges and overcome obstacles?

Stress can, under the right circumstances, be a gift. It can motivate us, and focus our efforts. The people who are most successful in life tend to be those that bounce back quickly from stress and adversity; they learn from their mistakes and move on, rather than feel victimized. However, when we experience too much of it, stress can also be detrimental to our health and to our overall success at work and at home.

The key is to find the right level of stress, and that’s where good leadership comes in. If they want to build their staff’s capability, good leaders don’t try to completely eliminate stress from a project, an assignment or the environment. Effective leaders understand that setting and achieving goals involves stress in some form, and that the stress involved in setting and reaching for goals often draws out the best of people’s talents.

Here are some guidelines that can help managers and coaches “get the best out of stress” for their teams. Remember, though, it’s about finding the right balance between energizing stress and stress that becomes counterproductive and potentially harmful.

1) Make sure you are able to recognize signs of stress and identify their causes.

• How do you typically learn what events, situations and conditions are creating stress for your employees?
• What factors in your department or work group tend to produce the most stress for people? Are these acknowledged and discussed openly?

2) Recognize that each person has a different capacity for dealing with stress — some are better at it than others.

• When coaching employees, are there specific behaviors or areas of skill development you can recommend for those that need to reduce their level of stress, such as improved time management, better planning, being more assertive, etc?

3) Help employees recognize that there are productive forms of stress.

• Do you ever hear stress discussed in positive terms? How can you help employees see that, in many cases, stressful situations and challenges aren’t altogether negative because they serve to make us stronger?
• What methods have you developed for managing your own stress? What past experiences have made you better able to survive new challenges? Have you shared these with your staff?

4) Attempt to raise the stress level up a notch, but only when and where it will be constructive.

• Can you think of situations in your work environment where a bit more pressure might be useful? What are they? What makes you think that raising the stress level just a notch might be useful?
• How can you assess whether or not your employees have sufficient resiliency to thrive on additional stress before adding more pressure to the situation?

When acknowledged and handled well — especially with the proper guidance and coaching — employees will see that stress can build resilience as well as confidence and the ability to deal with challenging circumstances.

Excerpted in part from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning program, Stress is a Gift.

Need help in this area? Stress is a Gift uses a poignant example from nature to illustrate how stressors are essential to any living thing’s ability to survive and grow.

What Shall I Do First?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Deciding the order in which we tackle the various tasks before us is something we all do consciously (or unconsciously) every day.  There are many methods for prioritizing work.  In most methods, the main consideration has to do with comparing the potential consequences of doing or not doing each item on the list.  One of the simplest time management systems is the “A, B, C, D” method.

“A” Activities are “must do” activities that are important and often urgent. If they do not get done, negative–sometimes severe–consequences can happen. Such activities include turning reports in to your boss, delivering scheduled presentations, attending and preparing for important meetings. (For example, if you don’t turn in your health benefits information by the deadline you may not get any health insurance with your company.)

“B” Activities are important activities that ultimately will affect the degree to which you are successful in your job, but you may not need to do any or all of them today. They could become tomorrow’s A activities or you may need additional information to complete them.

“C” Activities are things that—if not done—probably won’t have short-term consequences that impact job success.  However, they may create problems if they are never attended to. (These could include reading journals, organizing your computer files, networking with peers.)

“D” Activities are your DON’T do’s. These may be tasks you need to delegate or skip altogether. (Example: Something is on your desk that someone else wants done, but you are not the right person to do it. Or it could be reorganizing your paper files when they are already sufficiently organized.)

Note: Procrastination can sometimes take the form of spending excessive time on D activities such as sorting through mail/email, reading the newspaper, or restocking supplies. These activities often seem productive but they can usually be saved for another time.

For each day, you should list 5-8 activities you plan to do. Estimate the time each should take and give yourself at least a 10% cushion.  Then label each activity A, B, C or D and tackle them in that order.

Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning program Time Challenged.

Need help in this area? Time Challenged is a favorite with trainees in all types of organizations. The humorous video provides the perfect introduction to the highly effective workshop that is included.

You Know You’re Out of Balance When…

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

For all the buzz about balance, why is it that so few people say they have it? What should balance be like? What is the difference between ‘out of balance’ and just plain busy?

“Balance is not about calculating the right equation of time and effort,” says the Center for Creative Leadership’s Gordon Patterson. “It is about having clarity about what matters to you and making sure you are taking care of those things consistently.”

People whose lives are out of balance — whose work life has taken too prominent a role — have similar experiences. Some of the warning signs that your life is out of balance include:

  • You have conversations with yourself in which you say “I’ve got to make more time for my significant other.”
  • You hear yourself telling others that you really wish you had time to do certain things you just don’t get done now.
  • Your relationships with your colleagues are less fun, less productive and less easy-going than they used to be. From your point of view, your direct reports should be far more serious about work than they are.
  • You think that your family should appreciate you more than they do. They don’t realize how hard you work for them.
  • You take your perfectionist and “type A” personality for granted and have not really even thought about altering your behavior.
  • You’re good — you can multitask like there’s no tomorrow. People continually marvel at how you can “do it all.” They think you are superhuman.
  • You pause mentally to put on your armor and to psych yourself up each day when you come through the front door of your office.
  • You want to appear interested when your direct reports tell you about their newborn children, but you don’t want them to conclude that their job responsibilities are any less important just because they’ve become parents.

“If any of these descriptions resonate with you, it may be time to reassess what you’re doing, why you are doing it and explore what your balance looks like to you,” says Patterson.

You may find you are feeling more balanced when you:

  • Accept that your needs and expectations have changed over the years and will continue to change.
  • Are able to make a temporary choice to place one aspect of your life ahead of another, knowing that other things will be tended to in time and you ensure that “temporary” does not become permanent neglect of other important things.
  • Embrace the presence of creative tension in your life. Balance does not mean easy or perfect.
  • Stop blaming your struggles with balance on other people, organizations and institutions.
  • Choose how to use your resources — what to do with your time, energy and passion.

Less Can Be More

Don’t assume that putting in fewer hours on the job will cause your work to suffer. In fact, time and energy spent off-the-job can enhance your productivity and your capacity to deal with work challenges. Shifting the mix of work and non-work hours can teach you:

Strength in vulnerability. Recognize that you can’t do everything and learn to ask for help. Leaders who successfully balance competing demands in all aspects of their lives freely admit their vulnerabilities and frequently are admired and respected for doing so. It makes them seem more human and more approachable.

The upside of limits. When facing a tough challenge or a huge to-do list, human nature urges you to push harder and work more hours. While it may seem counterintuitive to stop, ease back or even shift focus, that’s exactly what you may need to do. If you’re working late at the office – fourteen hours a day, day in and day out – you are tricked into thinking that your efficiency is being maximized by your intense work efforts. In fact, leaving early a few nights a week or delegating more may be the better solution. By setting limits, you are better able to distinguish when you really do need to push and when to step back and regroup.

The benefit of recharging. Our capacity to work is not boundless, although we sometimes appear to believe otherwise. Building in enough time to relax and recharge as we work is critical for clear and creative thinking, strong relationships and good health.

Gordon Patterson is a CCL Senior Program Associate.

Content reprinted with permission from  Finding Your Balance, by Joan Gurvis and Gordon Patterson, Copyright © 2004 Center for Creative Leadership

Training Success Story: Working With You Is Killing Me!

Monday, September 29th, 2008

The ROE Report Results: The results are in from an independently-conducted “Return on Expectations” (ROE) study recently conducted with CRM Learning customers who used the best-selling video “Working With You Is Killing Me” – and they’re over the top!

The CRM customers surveyed reported that this program met or exceeded expectations 95 percent of the time. Customers were selected from the banking, insurance, energy and consulting world and interviewed over the phone by an independent research firm. Each client was told that all answers would be anonymous and aggregated into a central database in order to ensure unbiased feedback.

About the Video Program: “Working With You Is Killing Me” is an unvarnished look at the unique challenges in working with difficult people. One survey respondent noted that the title alone was delightful, which broke the ice at the beginning of each training session and led to more meaningful and honest discussion. “They loved the title,” the client said, “it sounded like fun, and people could really resonate with it.”

Training expectations: Clients said they used the program with a range of groups of all sizes, from supervisors to entry-level employees. Two had used the program for more than six months. Several planned to use the program as part of formal leadership, management and team-building training, but others found it extremely useful for “customized interventions,” to help in specific situations where both parties needed to remain calm. Several stated they planned to use the training specifically for management of conflict resolution.

“It was simple enough,” one respondent noted, “but the video didn’t talk down to anyone. I even showed it to a group of directors, and saw some taking notes, which is saying a lot!”

One client told a very personal story of how he used “Working With You Is Killing Me” to help with a specific employee, inviting him to sit down and view the video together. “We laughed when the video talked about ‘toxic relationships’,” the client reported. “This was just what he was dealing with. He’s worked on his problem and he’s now fine.”

Other clients noted they heard the language of the program being used in situations at the office, so it’s clear that employees have internalized the training.

When asked if they would recommend the program to others, all clients responded with an emphatic yes. “I already have,” said one, “several times.”

Watch a Free Full Length Preview of Working With You is Killing Me:


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