How Management Could Improve Organizational Well-Being

Da Vinci Whole 
As we at Epic Living do more work in the well-being arena, it's important to set the table around the importance of management's role in making well-being a reality.  I won't spend a ton of time explaining the need for managers to understand when to put the leadership hat on.  You can look at this post I wrote a few years ago to get my thoughts on that.  The reality is most managers have abdicated well-being to HR and the company's benefit offerings.  As well-intentioned as that may be, it leaves much to be desired in practical application.

Management is looked to for direction and pace (how fast or slow should we be moving).  That implies a great deal of influence over a number of people.  As I'm sure you're getting by now, management is more than checking off tasks on a list.  One area of huge importance is the well-being of the employees.  For example, how well do your people handle stress?  And how is that stress impacting the customer?

Let me be clear, it's not the responsibility of a manager to make sure their employees are managing stress well or that employees manage their lives well for that matter.  But they can play a part in influencing a balanced approach to well-being.  You may wonder why the manager should care?  It's pretty simple, those that manage their lives well will always outperform those that don't.  So, the manager should be a champion/cheerleader of well-being in their organization.  A true win-win proposition for the organization and the employees.

The following are some recommendations for management around encouraging an environment of well-being:

  1. Do engage with employees in a way that allows them to manage their well-being in their own way.  Management should not dictate and take a "take it or leave it" approach.
  2. Do consider the "whole" life and not just those that allow management to stay in an imaginary comfort zone.
  3. Do learn how to manage people from a perspective of diversity.
  4. Do focus on making your engagement about the employee and not about what you'll get by offering the resource(s).
  5. Do be committed to well-being as a long-term process and not a one-time event.

No Promises

No Promises 

We would have been better off hearing early on in our adult lives that there are no promises given in life and work.  Some of you might be thinking I deserve the "duh" award about now.  But isn't it ironic how often we hear and throw around promises.  Often this happens without any thought at all.

What if we heard something like the following:

    "No promises here, just the opportunity to get up after falling down and to try again."

Maybe not the cure-all, but certainly clear and based in reality. 

In America, we're so obsessed with success and winning that we tend to run from the "loss" like the plague.  What exactly do we learn when we succeed?  Much I hope, but if we're honest we just want it to keep going.  In our time many of those successes are hollow and unfulfilling.  So sad, since a fulfilling win can only come after the bitter taste of failure.  

We can't change the past (yesterday), so let's get on with it.  You should not expect that every road leads to the dreams in your head.  Follow your gut and be prepared to course correct.  So many give up because they wanted life just as they desired.  They fail to realize that it takes a lot of pain and disappointment to birth a dream come true.  Eyes wide open here, ladies and gentlemen.

The following is a list of promises I've been willing to put all of myself into.  But first understand, I made a decision some time ago that I would allow myself to be vulnerable and accept the risk inherent.  Vulnerability and risk come together to open the door to happiness.  Even with that, I've been hurt in all of these areas.

  1. The type of promises given to me by God.
  2. The marriage promise from my wife.
  3. The promises from friends like Rick, Marc, Terry, Steve, Jim, and Robert.
  4. Generally promises that come from people I meet for the first time, but I always manage those with verification in-mind.
  5. The type that come from my children.  Verification is important here, but more importantly, they need to understand that I believe in them.

The Process, Not the Event

The road of life includes processes and events.  Many prefer the events, and that's a problem.  Events are not the enemy, it's the over-attraction to them that creates the pitfall.  But it's understandable why we prefer that moment of elation, since events gives us immediate stimulation that we want and maybe crave.  Nobody talks a lot about processes because it tends to require faith, imagination and vision.  Did I mention that it can feel like drudgery.

One of the my best experiences in the process and event arena has been my marriage.  It began with a big event, the ceremony.  Great joy and happiness.  The future seemed unbelievably bright.  And then she had to face the reality of living with me(humor is important here).  That event was 20 years-plus ago.  We're still happily together because of the process, and not the event.  Ironic how the thing that feels like work produces the happiness we so desperately desire.

Certainly there is no substitute for knowing what you're doing is a fit.  Be it in your career, your money, your learning, etc.  But once that's been settled, you've got to embrace the process. 


The End of Busy

Busy Street 

I made a decision over the weekend to eliminate the word, thought and feeling of busy from my life.  As with any habit, i will stumble.  But the point was driven home when I spent some time considering my father and what it means to be a father.  My examination of that led me to the conslusion of how time goes at the pace it chooses to go and I can either be reactive or proactive.  I choose proactive.

In most situations, busy means you're involved in things that won't be brilliant in eternity, or tomorrow for that matter.  Busy can also be a signal that you're living under the dogma of someone/something else.  You know what I mean; your managing a life that is not your own.  Is that really what you want?  Do you want to be handed a script every morning telling what your lines are for that day? 

Don't be tricked into believing that you can abdicate the responsibility for your life.

So what's so intoxicating about busy?  I think, at least in America, it gives a false sense of meaning and purpose.  The idea that the more I'm involved in, the more those things will equal to something good and right.  But it's even more insidious when we use busyness as a tool to medicate and cope.  Sort of like being able to forget (temporarily) about the real pressing issues that are asking for our attention.  It can also disarm those who truly want to help.  You make the "I'm really busy" statement and they back away.  Ironic how we often reject the cure for what plagues us.

My advice to you is to choose life and find the thing(s) that are exclusive to your DNA and pursue them with a good pace.  You'll never be busy again.

Seth Godin on Risk and Failure


This interview with Seth Godin will encourage you to try and fail. 

Are you in a workplace where taking a risk and failing are frowned upon?  Do you frown upon it yourself?  Why not begin a small experiment today with risk and failure?  It could liberate you.

In the interview Seth gives some good examples of what a small experiment might look like.  The following are my suggestions:

  • Interact with a client in a different way.  Make a surprise visit to their office and engage with the receptionist and no one else.
  • Sign up for a cooking class, even if you see yourself as a lousy cook.
  • Try something that your kids are good at, but you're not.
  • Suggest a unique place for a work retreat.  Like this spot.
  • Introduce yourself to someone you've never met at work, at school or in your neighborhood.


The Work of Well-Being

The work of well-being is all about taking control.

We here so much about balancing life and work in our world today.  It’s really more about taking control of what we’ve been given-life.  You can’t take control of your life, and your well-being, until you see your life as the center. The center is the place where everything begins.

Most people want a sense that they are doing the right things. They aspire to have a good life, but unfortunately some areas of life live to corrupt our best intentions. Whether it’s work, relationships or some other area, we sometimes feel one step away from being undone.  How about you? With all the advances in technology and education many felt it would improve our state, beyond a tablet computer.  The puzzling question is; where’s the advancement for managing our lives? Where’s the cure for feeling overwhelmed?

The answer has been with us all along.

Life is a gift. I certainly believe life is a precious gift given from above.  I also believe that gift implies a sense of responsibility and management.  I don’t know anyone who would verbally endorse an approach where life just unfolds on its own.  Deep down we know that life is tough and it requires work.  Unfortunately, we have a modern world that has sold us a bill of goods.  The one that says we can ignore well-being or mask our issues with money and/or medication.  How powerful would it be if we changed the paradigm?

Seeing value in the small. There’s no better a mindset than embracing small steps, small goals and the results that follow. If you start small with changing a certain area of life, you will start to see your paradigm shift.  Think of it as racking up small and quantifiable victories. Happiness and contentment follow the person who is willing to do this kind of work.  As you slowly embrace with commitment and urgency, the outlook changes.

Ignore all the haters. I read once where the original CEO of Cadillac believed insults and criticisms were a signs that the organization was onto something great. The fair warning is found in you not listening to the naysayers and the persuasive lips of chatter.  Specifically, those that try to convince you that ignorance is bliss or that someone else is responsible for your well-being.  Be careful here.  Many a man and woman have started off well only to be derailed by their own temptations and deceptions.

If you truly want a great life, then take your well-being and own it. It will require hard work, but you won’t regret it.

Eric Pennington is the founder of Epic Living, LLC. He is the author of Waking Up in Corporate America and the newly released book The Well-Being Guide: Making the Most of Life and Work. The book is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and select book sellers.