Shift The Tone of Your Workday


Skip the coffee and try for connection…

A recent Wall Street Journal article about stress and the alpha male made it abundantly clear to me why so many successful men (and increasingly women) see stress as a good thing—and not the danger it presents when it goes unchecked. For type A’s, stress can be the fuel in their engine; driving them to stay on schedule, deliver on deadlines and move up the ladder. But a stressful environment may not only handicap the manager, it may drag down the productivity of employees.

Chronic stress and a prevailing atmosphere of pressure at work runs us down, fogs our memory, diminishes (or deprives) our sleep quality. It gets worse: when that stress prevails such that it creates tension between work and home, it starts to impact lives of family and friends. And I can say from personal experience, even if you are an adrenaline junkie — maybe a fighter pilot, ER doc or CEO of a start up — daily stress just doesn’t feel good.

Satisfaction, balance and a feeling of shared sense of purpose are better tools for productivity. And it’s really a win/win: you sleep better, and likely suffer less from the long term effects of an excess of the hormone cortisol, your output increases and so does that of your peers and cohorts at work.

People also perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do, according to Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, the authors of The Progress Principle. And managers, “…by removing obstacles, providing help and acknowledging strong effort”, can help their employees experience more meaningful work, a primary motivator, well ahead of raises and bonuses.

While a surprising number of managers don’t believe in the link between connection to work and productivity and happiness, I say suspend disbelief – it can’t hurt! In fact, among meQuilibrium’s users, we’ve found the single biggest predictor of a daily positive mood is connection to work.

How to Get Connected to Your Work

  • Think big. Rather than worry and stress about the smaller details of your work all the time, make sure you take time to focus on how your work contributes to something bigger than the daily output or the financials, and look for the greater good.
  • Pay attention to what’s working. It’s easy to zero in on faults, flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings. And sometimes you have to—but not all the time. Take some time today to note—and share with your team—the things that are working (and don’t forget to give credit where credit is due—people love to be recognized).
  • Turn the tide of conversation. It’s easy to let workplace dialogue morph into an ongoing and stress-inducing series of complaints, fears, worries, rumors, and suspicious. Instead, engage with your managers and your colleagues about achievement, teamwork and the greater purpose of your business. Some may look at you like you have two heads, but over time you can influence the tone and direction of conversation—for the better.

You may singlehandedly cause a sea change in the productivity of your workplace, you may get promoted for rallying the team, but no matter what, your own sense of purpose will open you to new productivity, engagement and happiness.

Jan Bruce, meQuilibrium Chief Executive Officer