Emily arrived on a brisk Tuesday morning last spring. Her energy was like the weather. She held a latte in one hand and her phone in the other. Her brown suede kitten heel boots announced her entrance.
Emily’s life was about to change. It had to change. It was time.
Emily was in her late 30’s and she wore her shiny brown hair to her shoulders. She sat waiting for me with knees and feet together, her back straight. Few people in Emily’s life knew she was struggling. I was one of the few.
Six years ago, Emily founded and expanded a successful NYC-based interior design company. Her early successes, big clients and broad acclaim proved that her hard work had paid off.
Emily’s social media feed painted a picture of #theperfectlife. A glimpse through Emily’s Instagram revealed that she went to two Ivy League schools. She landed her dream job out of graduate school, authored a book on simple home design, had a great husband, an adorable kid and a flawless figure.
Her life online was enough to make any woman feel inadequate.
I greeted Emily in the Tournesol reception area and we walked through the archway that led to my office. She followed me inside the gentle quiet. Emily relaxed into one of the light green antique French chairs and surrendered an audible exhale. The tear that formed at the outside corner of her left eye swelled. She leaned in for a tissue and the tear spilled down her cheek. “Carey, I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know where to begin.”
“I’m tired of things not working right at my company. I feel like I’ve done everything I was supposed to do, but I’ve completely lost control of my staff. My clients control my life. I meditate and exercise and eat what I’m told to eat. I don’t understand.
“I brought in a mindfulness company to fix things, but my staff is still ungrateful. I feel like all I get from them is complaints about workloads and expectations. I certainly never complained about workload when I had my first job.”
Emily’s frustration mirrors a recent trend for my clients and in corporate wellness as a whole. Employers are increasingly disappointed in lackluster program outcomes. Employee education systems that promise expanded consciousness and happier staff fail to deliver meaningful change.
The weekly yoga programs don’t reduce escalating anxiety around difficult client meetings. Meditation isn’t easing the overwhelm of a demanding workload. While free snacks and on-site massages are nice, they don’t reduce complaints about unrealistic supervisor expectations.
To make a real difference in workplace challenges, we need to teach staff the skills to:
1. Understand how unique adaptive style impacts physical and emotional health
2. Acquire individualized tools for reducing the harmful effects of stress and new healthy habits to enhance overall wellbeing
3. Strategies to remain resilient in the face of difficult work interactions and relationships
There are five primary ways people manifest stress. When we understand these five, we experience relief. We engage in more successful relationships, have more empathy for our needs and those of others and we build a strong foundation for life success.
Take a peek at the five types.
1. Emotional – Emotional people have a core need to bring joy to themselves and to others. They are inspiring leaders and intuitive learners. Under stress, emotional types become anxious and panic over little things. They crave positive attention and rewards for a job well done.
2. Team Player – Team Players have a core need to care for others and bring unity to their company. They are compassionate leaders and empathetic contributors. Under stress, they worry and become overwhelmed. It’s important for them to be included as part of a team and they love warm, heartfelt interactions.
3. Designer – Designers have a core need to bring beauty and perfection to a company, product, or project. They keep people on their toes and make sure a company has sound policies and procedures in place that protect organizational interests. Designers crave consistency and are creatures of habit.
4. Creative – Creatives prefer to work alone and are terrific problem solvers. They are wise leaders and crave knowledge and understanding. Under stress they tend to isolate and may not talk about what is bothering them. Creatives are great listeners and crave peaceful work environments.
5. Mover – Movers are brave leaders who like to make things happen. They crave freedom and prefer to be in charge rather than being part of a team. Under stress, Movers become frustrated and may react with anger. It’s important for Movers to have control over projects and feel a sense of ownership and pride.
Emily is a Designer. Once she understood her nature and her button pushers, she had more empathy for her own needs and the needs of her staff. We worked together to implement a customized program for self-growth and self-care that solved the core causes of stress in her personal life.
At work, we created a six-month wellness education program that we launched last June. We applied the methodology of the five types to each one of her core concerns. Emily’s customized program addressed:
· Manager Style – Communicating clearly about expectations, deadlines, priorities
· Company Culture – Designing expectations around work hours, workload and time off
· Effective Team Design – Using the five type model to staff high performance teams
· Managing Difficult Clients – Teaching conflict resolution and anticipating client needs
This past January Emily emailed me an article. It was issued in a national publication that writes about noteworthy entrepreneurs in the design field. The write up recognized her again for her outstanding work. Emily was no stranger to media acknowledgement, but this was not her typical coverage. Emily’s company was being singled out for being a great place to work.
You can reduce stress and suffering in the workplace. However, there is no 15-minute quick fix, not for personal wellbeing and not for a company. One-size-fits-all efforts continue to fall short. I recommend you not waste your precious resources on trendy wellness options because it costs less, or promises fast results. I’ve seen too many people and companies regret the attempt.
You can enjoy success. Know who you are. Know whom your staff and stakeholders are. Once you do, you will have the powers of inference, compassion, intuition, empathy, grit and grace. You will know what you need and how to ask for your needs to be met.
When all your needs are met, you do not suffer. You soar.