I learned a new fact yesterday – On average, people in the US take 17 breaths a minute. In Africa, that number is 6 breaths a minute.
Conclusion? Our steady state is not a relaxed state. Normal isn’t healthy.
How does this connect to how effectively companies leverage their greatest resource – people? A trend I see is to begin to re-hire the talent management roles that were cut during the recent downturn. A good thing – but reactive. Use the statistics above to think about your organization right now:
Here is what talent management looks like at 17 breaths a minute:
An employee engagement initiative is under way.
HR people hounding overworked leaders to get performance evaluations done.
Top performers getting generous conteroffers after announcing their intent to leave.
Poor performers stay in key roles > 4 months.
The most critical project happening is the implementation of a learning management system.
Here is what talent management looks like at 6 breaths a minute:
I joined the board of a great organization that cares for seniors and at my orientation they shared this story.
In building a new facility display cases were placed by each room. Filled with pictures and items for residents of adjacent rooms, they were meant as landmarks to make finding rooms easier. This practice had proven effective even with dimentia cases. They received a surprise. Employees and others observed a higher quality of care because these residents became people with an 80+ year history that was known to all those around them. In one case, it explained why a resident veteran who had been a POW tried to crawl out a window because of loud noises. Instead of medicating the resident they provided comfort.
History gives us context for current decisions we see people make.
When a friend acts irrational we know the history – and work through it.
What a stranger acts irrational we judge the action – and walk away or around it.
When we ask and listen it sends a powerful signal – we care.
Under stress, we too often forget to stop and listen to stories. We see ourselve as busy. Others see us as cold and uncaring.
One last story . . . I used this tool to kickoff a planning session for a leadership team. The next day the CEO called the HR leader and quietly asked for a list of names of all family members for each executive on his team.
Some things are important no matter how old we are. Knowing someone changes how we treat them – and how they treat us.
Do any of us in the private sector experience any more stress than a soldier in battle? We all know the answer. No. Which is why it is worth taking 300 words to explore an effort to help soldiers build their resilience.
Resilience is the word of the year for the discussion around assisting people to manage through a stressful business environment. I found a great clinical discussion in the Harvard Business Review around resilience (link). I like clinical approaches to topics because they provide great information about what works, what doesn’t, and an outline of the critical steps/pieces of a solution. They learn and I apply.
Here are the key pieces of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program.
Test for psychological fitness – Identify strengths in four areas: emotional, family, social, and spiritual fitness. All four have been found to reduce depression and anxiety.
Learning – A mandatory course on post-traumatic growth and optional on-line classes on the four fitness areas. Mandatory class covers five areas: Understanding a normal response to trauma, learning techniques for controlling intrusive thoughts/images, how to talk about it, see the trauma as a fork in the road, and transforming the trauma into new/reinforced principles of life.
Train key leaders – Called Master Resiliency Training (MRT), the goal is to teach them how to embrace resilience and pass on the knowledge. This last piece focuses on: Building mental toughness, Building on our signature strengths, and Building relationships.
I am not sure where this study will go, but when 900,000 people go through something and someone is measuring the outcomes and sharing the learning it should have a lasting benefit.
How can we apply this today? What do you see from their approach that reinforces how you lead today? How you coach or mentor? How you can create your own CSF program? How does your own awarness of self make you more resilient? or less . . . . .
On a side note: I am glad someone is looking out for the health of our soldiers.