Posts Tagged ‘Public Sector Service’

Look Out! The Sneeze Guards are About

Covid-19 Sneeze

 

The past year has certainly thrown up some challenges and now that we are returning to offices and interacting more closely with each other, it has led to a few tricky situations arising when someone sneezes or coughs at work.

A client recently mentioned that her young son coughed in the supermarket (he swallowed some food too quickly!) and said she was met with glares and some mutterings about COVID from shoppers nearby.  At a recent workshop, a participant commented about a team member repeatedly sneezing in the office.  That team member suffers from hay fever and hadn’t taken an antihistamine drug that day.  No-one in their team knew what to say or how to broach the questions on everyone’s mind at the time – “Have they had a COVID test?  Should they go home?  Who is monitoring this?”

A year or so ago we would have all been expecting people to take cold, flu or hay fever medications and deal with it themselves.  In fact, we have sometimes been encouraged to go to work as it’s “just a cold” and in many workplaces stoicism over minor illness was viewed as a badge of honour.  With the advent of COVID-19 all that has had to change and many of us now realise that in the past we have probably spread germs far and wide by working when a little unwell. Now we are being asked to stay home with even the slightest symptom and get tested.

What is required from organisations in this pandemic is for people leaders to agree and promote protocols for physically working together.  This includes regularly reminding everyone of the importance of keeping themselves and their colleagues healthy through keeping safe distances, regular hand sanitising, temperature checks (as appropriate) and in particular stressing the need for any employee who feels sick to stay home and, if necessary, get tested for COVID-19.  If this hasn’t happened in your workplace, you could ask your people leader to discuss it at a team meeting.

“I’m not currently aware of the protocols in terms of office sickness.  It’s a bit unsettling and I’d like to discuss and agree on the team’s approach to illness.  My suggestion is that if we have any symptoms, even if someone thinks it’s just hay fever or a cold, we get tested for COVID and then be supported to stay home until we are better no matter the result?  Can we discuss this at the next team meeting?”

However, what if your colleagues haven’t been following these guidelines or you are worried about their coughs and sneezes in the office.  If you know them well and generally have a good relationship with them, you could constructively observe they don’t seem well and provide some suggestions on what they could do.

Jay it seems you have been sneezing a lot today.  I know it’s a sensitive time right now sickness wise, are you feeling OK?  Perhaps speak to Gisella (People Leader) about working from home until you feel better.”

Or

“Chris I am worried about that cough of yours.  Do you feel OK?  How about you head off home and get yourself better?  It’s important to be safe and follow health guidelines.”

If you don’t feel comfortable raising it with your colleague yourself then you can take your concerns to your Team Leader/Supervisor/Manager or Human Resources and ask them to intervene.

“Kerry has been working really hard since we returned to working in the office and seems unwell, sneezing and coughing.  It’s worrying me he could be infecting others in the team.  Please can Kerry be asked to work from home until he is no longer coughing and sniffling?

These can feel like awkward conversations, however it is important to raise and resolve these issues to ensure bad feelings and misunderstandings do not arise among team members.  COVID-19 has taken our personal and professional lives into new and unchartered territories, however when navigating these situations, it is important to implement the fundamentals of tough conversations and approach all situations with empathy.

And if you have any doubts about yourself, colleagues or your team follow the government guidelines and inform your colleagues of your actions, this will help build a good COVID-Safe work culture.

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information/retail/covid-19-your-workplace

Strategies for Support in Our Time of Uncertainty

Support and Empathy

Over the past few days we have received an influx of promotional marketing material  – one reads “Massive changes have come to the workplace.  In the past weeks, these times of uncertainty require your workforce to be flexible and resilient, and to reskill for the changes ahead.”  It went on to say; “The most successful organisations are the ones that can navigate uncertainty, tackle challenges and pull together to drive innovation.”

Well I think we can all say we are currently facing uncertainty and challenges that we have never personally imagined or experienced before.  Every day people are having to change ways of living and working.  There is a lot of fear, concern, confusion and sorrow out there about how lives are being affected and changed and the impact this pandemic is having on all of us, right round the world.  For those lucky enough to generate an income, it is hard to focus when we don’t know what the next moment will bring and we hear so much negative news.

During this time it is heartening to hear from clients, their stories of adaptation; learning about remote working set-ups; what it’s like to work along-side or opposite a partner (pets included) and what can be accomplished through on-line platforms such as Zoom, Skype etc.  Interestingly for a number of our clients, especially in Local and State Government, internal discussions are taking place around a key question; “What is an essential service?”

For Team Leaders, Supervisors, Managers and Directors discussing tougher questions such as, ‘Is our role essential and what is our purpose?’ can evoke a lot of fear for already anxious staff.  People have heightened levels of emotions related to remote working, the challenges of home schooling, what to do over the up-coming holiday period and how to care for the vulnerable, including elderly parents.  We also have a generation of people in management and supervisory positions with family members at home who are facing their first experience of a recession / major economic downturn.  It is an incredibly difficult time for everyone right now and for many, the discomfort that people now feel is similar to grief.  We feel the world has changed, and it has.  We trust this is temporary, but we don’t know how long for, it doesn’t feel that way and we realise things will be different in the future.

This is a challenging time for people leaders with emotions for everyone running high and very close to the surface.  It is important that Team Leaders, Supervisors, Managers and Directors let people constructively vent their feelings and be heard more than ever.  Displaying empathy now is critical for staff to feel they are supported, understood and truly listened to, which means listening carefully and acknowledging feelings and not judging or dismissing emotions.

So what can people leaders do or say to support and assist staff:

  • Let people constructively vent their feelings without interrupting and validate feelings.
  • Focus on single-tasking as opposed to multi-tasking.  There can be many distractions for staff whilst working remotely so when on the phone or online system the focus has to be on the other person and what they are saying. This can be a challenge when others may also be at home working, schooling and/or there are distractions in the background.  Using headphones, minimising other applications, turning off other mobile devices and “ping” notifications, shutting doors and thoughtful workspace arrangements may help here.
  • We often say take a deep breath when things are overwhelming and this is a great thing to do to calm the mind, support physical health and aid regaining focus. We would encourage you and others to BREATHE maybe use a meditation app that might work for you and/or your staff.  Ask people “What can we both do to help support you focus and to feel OK this week?” and commit to making this part of a weekly check-in.
  • Maintain team rituals. Consider what can still be done to celebrate monthly birthdays to accommodate social distancing or Friday social drinks via on-line platforms.  A number of clients are encouraging staff within teams to share a happy picture each day and/or week.  I’ve even heard of a remote team wearing the same colour top on a particular day.  The team are based in Orange, NSW.  I’m not sure the colour was orange!
  • Help people with paradigms of control. What are staff concerned about but cannot control? What can be influenced and what can be controlled?   Coach people on actions that can be controlled to build their sphere of influence.  Support people to focus on what can be achieved in the week and/or a day.  Celebrate daily completion of a will-do list as opposed to focusing on the never ending to-do list.
  • If appropriate now could be time to work on those jobs or tasks the team always means to do but doesn’t have time for. Try asking “What work or jobs have we often wanted to do, systems to improve or cheat sheets to develop but lacked the time, that we could start on now?”
  • If you decide your team may not be seen as an essential service you can focus staff on seeing how they can help others and feel useful. Try finding this out by asking “What can we do this week to make ourselves useful and supportive to the organisation and our other colleagues?”
  • This is a time for us to be kind to ourselves and others, to praise and appreciate our colleagues and our amazing front-line workers. Patience while we all work it out is important.  Recognise people and provide sincere positive feedback “I know it has been a really tough couple of weeks with the transition to this way of working.  Thanks for quickly adapting and having things up and running.” 

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.  Please feel free to reach out to us at any time if you need assistance.  Look after yourself, your teams and your colleagues in the coming weeks and/or months.  Our thoughts are with you.  Keep safe and socially conscious – Sarah and Patricia

The following Harvard Business Review articles below have some great suggestions to help:

https://hbr.org/2020/03/are-you-leading-through-the-crisis-or-managing-the-response

https://hbr.org/2020/03/coping-with-fatigue-fear-and-panic-during-a-crisis

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

Marana is excited to announce that we now offer EQ-i 2.0 and EQ-i 2.0 360

 

 

EQ-i 2.0

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be defined as a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

EQ-i 2.0 and EQ-i 2.0 360 – A Scientific Approach to Talent Development

For almost 20 years, organisations have trusted the science that underpins the EQ-i 2.0® to help improve human performance. The EQ-i 2.0 is a psychometric assessment which measures emotional intelligence (EI) and how it can impact people and the workplace. Being the first scientifically validated measure of EI, coupled with research from premier organisations, means you can count on the EQ-i 2.0 to add robustness and accuracy to your talent management initiatives. Applications of emotional intelligence include:

  • Leadership Development
  • Selection
  • Organisational Development
  • Executive Coaching
  • Team Building

The EQ-i 2.0 Model

EQ-i Model

The 1-5-15 factor structure: The EQ-i 2.0 features one overarching EI score (Total EI), broken down into five composite scores which measure five distinct aspects of emotional and social functioning. These in turn, are broken down into a total of 15 sub scales.

Employee Development

The EQ-i 2.0 measures the interaction between a person and the environment he/she operates in. Assessing and evaluating an individual’s emotional intelligence can help establish the need for targeted development programs and measures. This, in turn, can lead to dramatic increases in the person’s performance, interaction with others, and leadership potential. The development potentials the EQ-i 2.0 identifies, along with the targeted strategies it provides, make it a highly effective employee development tool. Report options:

  • Workplace
  • Leadership
  • 360 degree
  • Group

Why is EI Important?

While emotional intelligence isn’t the sole predictor of human performance and development potential, it is proven to be a key indicator in these areas. Emotional intelligence is not a static factor – to the contrary, one’s emotional intelligence changes over time and can be developed in targeted areas.

Talk to Sarah Barlow about using EQ-i 2.0 – call 02 9439 6040 or email contactus@marana.com.au

Project Management – Using the 3 C’s

Project Management

The number of projects and the amount of time spent managing projects is increasing in business worldwide to provide focus and flexibility. Some organisations have marshalled most of their resources into multidisciplinary project teams. Projects are often critical components of the performing organisation’s business strategy, so strong skills in project management are important employee attributes.

  • Why do organisations need project management?
  • How can good project management skills help you?
  • Do you want to tackle projects with confidence?

People are faced with a range of projects throughout their life. In organisations in the current fast paced business world it is critical that results are delivered on time, within budget and to the right quality. Increasingly managers and staff are involved in managing projects even though they may not be called project managers. By applying the skills of project management in your personal and professional life you can maximise performance and ensure the best results every time. Project management enables you to focus on priorities, monitor progress and performance, overcome difficulties and problems and adapt to change. In fact nowadays projects are the vehicle for driving change in many organisations.

Key aspects of running projects effectively include:

  • having a clear scope of work with a defined start and end
  • developing a realistic project plan with a clear method for meeting the project objectives
  • acquiring and managing project resources effectively including people, time, money, equipment and supplies
  • developing a high performing project team
  • effectively engaging and communicating with all project stakeholders
  • minimising the risks of conducting the project
  • ensuring quality is defined and achieved.

Nowadays projects are undertaken at all levels of the organisation. They may involve a single person or many thousands. They may be completed quickly or take years to complete. Projects may involve a single unit of one organisation or may cross organisational boundaries. Some examples of projects include:

Working in the Culture and Structure of the Public Service

 

Public Sector Service

When we work in the public sector our role is to support and provide service to a range of stakeholders.  This includes serving the public, the Parliament, our Minister and the government of the day, our cluster/agency, other organisations and our colleagues.  We are responsible for providing relevant, responsive and quality service and we do this in a way which reflects our core values.  While every agency and Department is different, the NSW public sector has some common principles we all work with which make it a good place to work and to receive service from.  Learning how it all works can make the transition to the public sector easier.

Many roles in the public sector require a good understanding of how government works and how to work with stakeholders both – both internal and external – to our organisation.  It is important that employees know what each of the three layers of government – local, state and federal- are responsible for and how they interact.  Knowing about the roles and responsibilities of individuals, committees and other groups in government provides people with the context for some of their work, such as writing Ministerials, briefing notes, developing policy or communicating with the Minister’s Office.

The NSW Public Service Vision is to have a highly capable public sector workforce characterized by a culture of integrity, trust, service and accountability.  Often organisational values are great slogans on the walls or in corporate documentation.  To make them “living values” every employee must be able to translate them to actions they carry out in their own role.  This is an important component of how the government will achieve the 2021 goals.