Oh no! You have hired the wrong candidate. Now what?

Finding, attracting and recruiting a new senior manager can be a time consuming, costly, frustrating and gruelling process for a variety of reasons. The person you want to hire might not be interested in your opportunity. Maybe (even though they would be perfect), they are too expensive for your business. Maybe that perfect person was set to join, but changed their mind. Maybe you thought you’d found the right individual, but your colleagues (or boss) didn’t like them. The scenarios are endless and mostly, not very good for your stress levels…

There are a number of papers written about the costs of hiring, and it is often concluded as a multiple of the salary the new hire commands. Suffice to say, if you add up the cost of your time and your colleagues’ time spent on the process, add to that the opportunity cost (as in: what could you have achieved in that time when you were busy sifting through CVs and sitting in interviews that weren’t going anywhere), plus the time spent designing and then managing an induction programme, you’ll soon come to an often eye watering amount that is invested in getting the right person on board.

Once the new hire is on board you’ll see the very best of them in their first three months. The all-important time when the individual is in their honeymoon period, wants to make the very best of impressions, is eager to convince everyone that the company has made the right decision in getting them on board and when they are developing relationships across the business.

Everyone involved in the hiring process sighs a sigh of relief, good job done, everyone is happy. Except…….when there are times that you are surprised by some of the new hire’s behaviour, perhaps you notice a lack of EQ (or even IQ), maybe you feel that they are not quite as experienced as they had led you to believe (damn, you should have taken those references after all…!).

Now what?

Is this the time to hit the ejector button? Can we salvage the situation? Can we re-direct them and find a position where they’ll be more effective?

There is no golden bullet here. This is where your leadership qualities will have to come to the fore. First things first, you need to raise your concerns with the person, you then need to flag the situation with your boss, along with a plan of action. The action can vary from a straight dismissal, to giving the person access to an executive coach, further training or different responsibilities. However, hoping that the person might improve with time, without addressing the problem, is not a strategy. Remember, you’ll see the best of a person in their first three months, it is unlikely it will get better at month 4, 5 or 6…!

Should you decide to let them go, then whatever number you calculated as the cost of recruitment, has just more than doubled.

Not only will you have to do it all again, you have now done damage in your department. There is a cost to the time that you haven’t had a successful manager – opportunity cost, probably a cost in morale and certainly a reputational cost. More than likely, your reputation.

It is now absolutely paramount that you prevent a hiring mishap from happening again. We’re all allowed one mistake, but two…?

Before immediately embarking on the next recruitment drive, let’s just reflect what you might change in order to guarantee a successful outcome. Again, no golden bullet here, however questions to ask yourself:

  • How wide did we cast our net to find this person (can an executive search consultant widen the search? Do they have a larger network?)
  • Is the interview process as effective as it can be? Are those doing the interviewing trained to do so, or does it turn out to be a bit of a chat? Should we set outcome objectives for interviews? Should we have a set questionnaire? (personally, I’m not a fan of this).
  • How many people within our organisation do we get involved in the process, a variety of opinions can be helpful (and it can be very annoying).
  • Should we see the last two people on the short list in a social environment, should they do a presentation, should we ask them what they think of the recruitment process so far?
  • Should we ask a handful of previous peers and bosses what they thought of the individual you’re about to make an offer? The answer is yes, without exception.
  • Should we ask them to set their objectives for their first three months, or at least agree the objectives you want to set them? Again, absolutely yes! If anything, it will give you an indication of their level of ambition.

The bottom line is that we all make mistakes, albeit rarely as costly as a wrong hire.

As it so happens, we are pretty good at this whole recruitment malarkey, only had one mis-hire on behalf of a client in 22 years…so you might want to give me a ring. I’ll happily share my advice.

Maarten Jonckers

Social media – a potential mine field. Employer proof it!

Social media – a potential mine field. Employer proof it!

I lose count of the number of MPs who have stood down because of a comment made on social media in the past – sometimes the distant past and sometimes before they even were a MP. Francesca O’Brien, a candidate in west Wales, posted on Facebook in 2014 that “these people need putting down”, commenting on participants in the TV show Benefits Street. She has apologised and as far as I know has not actually stood down. That said, if elected, that comment will haunt her for the rest of her parliamentary career.

The problem is that many people are prolific on social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and, younger generations, TikTok, to name but a few! – and it is so easy to lose track of what you posted, was it a joke, was it meant, was this on a private account, was it public, did other people comment and did the conversation go viral?

It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. After a particularly eventful night out with your friends, where your behaviour was less than ideal, a photo emerges on Monday morning on social media that you’d never hope to see there (and might not even remember). Social media damage control is in order.

Employers can, and often will, scour social media pages of prospective employees to find out a bit more about the person they may want to hire. Similarly, employers will keep tabs on their employees through social media – because they can. And unfortunately, social media tells a story about you that will either impress or dismay future and current employers.

So here are some suggestions how to ensure that your social media profile portrays yourself exactly as you would like your employer to see it.

First of all, keep personal and professional very, very separate. Obvious I know, so why do so many people fall at that first hurdle?

Ensure that you operate your personal profiles and professional profiles separately, and that never the two shall meet. Consider making your private accounts just that, private – so that they’re not publicly accessible.

  • That said, when your boss requests to follow you, it may be rude not to accept. So, it’s key to ensure that both your professional and personal pages portray you in a positive light. A profile photo of you with your puppy or doing something wholesome in the great outdoors? Perfect. Does it show an old photo straight from first year at university? Time to update it, fast.
  • When posting, adopt a personal filter to anything which is based on, “would my mum be embarrassed by this”? If she would, then don’t go there.
  • Revisit your privacy settings to ensure unwanted information is locked way, way out of sight or deleted completely. Adjust if needed, and then do a “view only” or similar check of your page. Still unsure? Just ask someone who is not friends with you on that page to check what they can see.
  • Monitor all your social media pages regularly. If a friend tags you in a well-meaning but mildly offensive meme on a professional page that could make an employer think twice about you, then you need to know it’s there and remove it ASAP.

Clean up your history

Even once you have established a professional online presence, don’t lose sight of the past. Every photo or comment you’ve posted on social media is still hiding somewhere, and could be found by a current or prospective employer with a simple Google search. So how do you find those unwanted images and comments from the past and get rid of them?

  • There are programmes available to run an online scan to identify potentially problematic photos of you. Or at the very least simply type in your name and see what appears.
  • Take time to scroll through your pages and hide or preferably delete any photos and comments you don’t want seen, and sift through your updates and statuses to remove the ones that said things like “threw a sickie today”.

So what should I post?

Having safely locked your personal online profiles away so you and your friends can continue to share memes and photos from fun nights out, it’s time to consider what you CAN post on your professional pages.

  • Anything work-related that reflects your motivation, willingness to work or professional development, such as attending events or courses is great.
  • Share an interesting discussion, news or development in your industry and respond to comments on this.
  • Consider material that will show a bit of your personality, in a positive way. Are you volunteering somewhere on your days off? Share a photo. Did you just walk up a significant mountain, win a race, become a parent? Post a snapshot or two of that.
  • Comment on others in your industry by posting a message of congratulations on a promotion, award or otherwise.
  • Humble posts of you winning an award are good too. Make sure to thank your team or those giving the award…

And please, never ever post anywhere about something fun you’re doing on a ‘sick’ day – career suicide!

Treat your social media as your CV

Follow the same rules as when writing your CV. What does that mean?

  • Check spelling and grammar. A long, rambling post without commas or other punctuation won’t impress anyone, let alone your boss.
  • Filter your material. Are you posting a lot about contentious issues, such as politics that could adversely reflect on you in the workplace? By all means have an opinion, but keep it to your personal pages.
  • Just like a CV, lying never pays. When listing your employment history on LinkedIn, stick to the truth, and if the list is long, stick to what is relevant.

If in doubt of how to delete or hide anything negative, then it may well be worth seeking some advice and help from an IT expert. In some cases, money well spent! I’m sure Francesca O’Brien agrees….

“Tell me of a time you’ve failed” … What? No!

I think it was Henry Ford who said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” However, no-one likes failure, and for most it’s a word that can raise your anxiety level, particularly when asked about it in an interview. Do we really want to think about and address failure in the interview room? Surely interviews are the place to be positive and talk about everything that you’ve achieved?

This may well be true, however failure is an inevitable part of working life, and your interviewer knows that. Of course they will want to know about your successes and achievements, and how you did it. That said the interviewer will also want to know about your approach to failure and how you deal with it; can you take a step back and see where you went wrong, or do you sweep it under the carpet and act like it never happened?

Failures are forgivable, inevitable in fact, for if you have never made a mistake, you have probably never made a decision. Businesses will look for individuals who can reflect and learn. But if you cannot identify how and where you went wrong and learn for next time, then that will put you on the back foot. Therefore, whilst you certainly won’t be the one to bring it up, you will need to be prepared to answer that dreaded interview question, “Tell me about a time you failed” in a positive and convincing way.

Think ahead and know what example you’ll talk about

This is a little bit of a balancing act. You don’t want to pick a thinly veiled success story that isn’t really a failure at all, such as “I exceeded my monthly sales target by 120 per cent, but I really wanted it to be by 130 per cent, so I was disappointed.” Believe me, the interviewer will see straight through that. Equally, avoid talking about a huge mistake which cost a huge amount of time, money or even jobs.

So think of a real example of where you made a genuine oversight or error of judgement that caused a ripple in the ocean, rather than a tsunami. Maybe missing a deadline, failing to close a deal or not hitting a KPI one month – just make sure that the example you select is not one of the key requirements of the job you’re interviewing for. Once you have in mind what example to use, practice telling your story (well ahead of the interview) and do remember these points:

Explain how it happened

Make sure you clearly indicate that you know exactly where you went wrong. Recall the situation as it happened and pinpoint the obstacles which prevented you from achieving the desired outcome. This will demonstrate that you know the root cause of the problem, and can prevent it from happening again. That said, don’t let your reasons sound like excuses or you blaming someone else, which nicely brings us to the next two points.

Don’t hide behind excuses

Please do not attribute your mistake to things beyond your control – the weather, a shortage of staff or a flat tyre. We all know that in business, there will be uncontrollable elements that can hinder your goals. However, what is important is how you identify what is in your immediate control, and how you take ownership and responsibility for the times that you fail to take that control. If you do anything else, you can come across as defensive and unaccountable during the interview.

Don’t shift the blame to others

Similarly, don’t blame other people as you talk about the situation. This is probably one of the worst things you could do. Someone who looks for the nearest person to blame, rather than reflecting on how they are personally responsible, will without fail be a threat to the team dynamic, morale and productivity. Talk about what you could have done to prevent the failure from happening, and show the humble self-awareness that all managers respect.

Be careful not to be too hard on yourself

You can be humble and self-aware, but you can’t go completely overboard and being self-deprecating. As you tell the story, don’t insult yourself or make any sweeping generalisations about who you are as an employee. Rather, stick to the facts and tell the story objectively. This will show that you can take these situations on the chin, rather than choosing to dwell on them for ages.

Show that you have learned from the situation

Don’t come out with the cliché “I’ve learnt more from my failures than I have from my successes”. But of course make sure to outline which lessons you have taken from your story, and demonstrate how you have since applied them to similar situations to achieve a more positive outcome.

As stated earlier, mistakes and disappointments are inevitable in your career, so there’s no need to avoid talking about them during an interview when prompted. Just make sure you choose your story wisely, and prepare to tell it in a way that portrays you as an accountable, self-aware candidate who will strive to learn from your mistakes in order to improve future performance.

Good luck!

What should your CV look like?

It is fair to say that I see and read more CVs than any of our client companies – that’s obvious as it is part of the job. I thought I would just mention this, as I have a fairly controversial opinion/theory: Continue reading “What should your CV look like?”

You did not get the job

So after two or so conversations and an interview with the headhunter, two face to face meetings with their client and an online psychometric test (which you think you absolutely nailed), you receive the call to say that you did not get the job. That hurt. Rejection is not something anyone enjoys, so maybe just stay in your current job, tear up your CV and consider yourself done until retirement.

No, no, wait! This is one of those scenarios where persistence pays off. Take a breather, walk around the block a few times and let that rejection wash off you, and start again.

This job clearly wasn’t for you, so how can we turn this negative into a positive?

Did I say something wrong?

Unfortunately, you don’t often see companies or hiring authorities write a nice email to let you down gently. More often you find there is a wall of silence, never to be heard from again.

However, as you have met with the company at least once or twice, you should consider phoning or emailing the interviewer. You can thank them for the opportunity and, as part of your learning experience, ask them politely why you weren’t chosen.

If they are prepared to impart this information and you are prepared to listen for a few minutes and ask some pertinent questions, then you could receive some real gems in constructive criticism, well beyond ‘just not being a suitable candidate’.

Ideally you’ll learn about how you did, including whether you were lacking certain experience or needed a particular qualification (in which case the headhunter should have checked whether this was a deal breaker before putting you forward). Had you not done enough home work in preparation? Did you not ask the right questions? Or did they decide to promote internally or hire someone with 10 years more experience than you?

Which part of your performance can you improve?

If nothing else, consider your time meeting and interviewing with the headhunter and their client as a learning experience and, hopefully, as an opportunity to expand your network. However, what can you do to prepare better next time? Find out:

  • Were there any sticking points? How can they be avoided or how would you prepare differently for them?
  • If you were missing qualifications, evaluate whether it is worth gaining these.
  • Was the client expecting you to have skills or experience that you couldn’t claim you had?

Upskill for the next round

If some gaps have emerged in your skill set, experience or in how you answer certain interview questions, then now is the time to find a way to overcome these next time. Can you:

  • Do a course?
  • Volunteer for extra responsibilities or project work that will help you in your development?
  • Get a mentor in your current business?

Keep that door open!

So you did not get the job this time … however the company may well get other vacancies you qualify for in the future. Therefore, if you have been turned down, stay polite and friendly and see it as an opportunity to widen your network. What reasons can you find to stay in touch with the decision maker? Make sure they know you are interested in other vacancies as they materialise, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity and stay connected!


With the emergence of the digital world, it is easier now more than ever before to stay in touch with your network by creating a digital presence and personal brand. Contribute, publish articles and comment. Make sure you are there to get noticed.

Good luck!


Get yourself the right salary

A good headhunter will have done their research and will usually get you a realistic remuneration package. But if you’re not working with a headhunter, you will need to negotiate for yourself.

So how do you negotiate the right deal for you?

Work satisfaction will hopefully come from doing a job you enjoy, but being paid what you’re worth is crucial to feeling valued and having a sense of satisfaction at the end of a long week.

It can be awkward to bring up the subject of money, but it’s essential to get this right from the off. Once you’re in the role, it’s too late to negotiate.

So how do you ensure you really are getting what you deserve?

  • Be prepared to explain your reasoning with evidence-based research.
  • Are you upscaling your role, or is it on a similar level? Compare your expected salary, bonuses and benefits to the position you’re aiming for.
  • Ask some carefully chosen contacts in your industry what they would expect to get, in both terms of salary and other benefits.
  • Find out industry trends including salaries of similar positions and experience levels – a quick look on job boards or LinkedIn will provide some guidance.
  • If you’re moving to a different area, the pay package could vary depending on location.

Allow for flexibility

If you are asked to state what you’re looking for, give a ‘between x and y’ number so that you can negotiate. You can explain that this is the range you have come across for similar roles whilst doing your research.

Pitch it right

Don’t scupper your chances by asking for an unrealistically high salary unless you are prepared to take a risk that you may put yourself out of range.

Conversely, if you ask for too little, you could be underselling yourself and may never recover from that, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Even if it’s your dream job, think beyond the initial excitement and imagine how you’ll feel on that salary in a year or two’s time.

Your previous research will indicate what a reasonable amount for the position and your experience could be.

Exceptions to the rule

If you’re moving from a city location with high expenses to a rural area with an easy commute (or flexibility to work from home) accepting less money could be an option. Or perhaps you’re changing industries and lack experience. Be clear about the reasons before you decide.

Don’t jump in too soon

Wait until you have a formal job offer before you start negotiating – you’re in a much stronger position when you know they want you, and you don’t need to start haggling in the early stages. It could even be off-putting to some.

Any other benefits?

Salary packages could include much more than just a monthly pay packet. Remember to factor in other benefits:

Gym membership, private health insurance, company car, car parking, travel benefits, annual bonus, extra holiday days, fewer travelling expenses. Add up all these extra costs that you may not need to pay out of your own pocket in the future.

Will you get better progression and promotion prospects with this new role? The opportunities presented to you to progress could have value.

Be confident

Be confident and maintain eye contact if you’re asked to state an expected salary. There will be time for negotiation if and when you are offered the role, so simply state your expectations and wait it out. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to do this with a degree of certainty.

Future proof your career

If the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ applies to you then you either have to change your ways or be prepared to get stuck in the job you currently have. In today’s age, everyone is expected to learn new tricks all the time in an ever-evolving workplace, and not doing so can impact on your career in ways you really don’t want it to.

Here are some thoughts on how to stay on top of all you need to do, know and learn to future proof your career.

Be that person who says yes
Consider saying “yes” at work as a way of upskilling, widening your knowledge and getting paid while you’re doing it. As an added bonus, you might just impress the boss, and others, enough to further yourself in the industry.

What sort of things should you say yes to?
• Joining a new project.
• Taking on extra responsibility, even if it’s temporary.
• Any form of professional development, training or upskilling. The more you learn now, the wider your skillset will be, and the more employable you become.
Be careful though that you don’t burn yourself out, make sure to prioritise your tasks and be honest with yourself, and your boss, if your plate is overloaded.

Don’t be pigeonholed
One of the biggest dangers for those who want to grow in their career is to pigeonhole yourself with skills so specific they become non-transferable or, worse, you simply get left behind. Avoid this by diversifying.

• Be open to learn new skills, particularly when it comes to learning new software and technology, which tends to rapidly change and evolve. Remember, everything is new until you learn it – from there on it’s another tool to add to your arsenal.
• Keep up to date with the latest news and developments in your field, so you know where areas of upskilling or improvements should be in the future.
• Ask for professional development opportunities.
• Use social media and other online tools to hunt for clues about what could be changing in your industry and seek out links to useful resources to change with it.
• Attend conferences, particular those which concentrate on technical developments.

Stay fresh, stay relevant
In a fast-paced, ever changing world, keeping up with the skills you require for the job can be a job in itself. But, in the interest of future-proofing your career, it’s a task you have to consider as an investment.

• Set aside time regularly to assess what new skills are required – or will soon be needed – in your industry. That could mean researching jobs similar to your own, identifying new software and technology developments or even reading job ads to find out what skills are needed in other companies.
• Is there anything you can do at home to upskill to make sure you stay relevant in your industry? Consider online training or other education options.
• Shadow someone in a senior or different position to you to build on your current skills, and make yourself more employable by increasing your knowledge.

When opportunity strikes, be ready
Ensure your CV and professional online profile is relevant, up to date and out there to be seen – after all, you never know who could be looking.

• Seek out connections and maintain them, most will find job opportunities through their network. A personal endorsement, a hint about upcoming opportunities or the latest word on new developments could make all the difference in your future career path.
• Maintain your relationships with recommended recruitment specialists, you really want to be front of mind when they come across opportunities.

How to ask for a promotion

Looking for a promotion? How to ask for it

To ask for a promotion is a big deal, but when the time is right (that’s the first tip), you need to put yourself forward. If you consider the alternative of staying exactly where you are until your expiry date, then that’s not much of a long term career plan …!

Here’s some ways of approaching, and preparing yourself for, this slightly daunting exercise.

Time it right and be tactful

Clearly, barging into your boss’s office at 9am on a Monday morning while they’re on an important conference call, and on a tight deadline, is not exactly being tactful. It is imperative that you time it right and ensure you’re fully prepared. So where to start?

  • Suggest a meeting time with your boss at a time that you know suits them. Often, an annual review is the best time for promotion talk, however when you know someone is leaving or there are organisational changes afoot, then you need pounce earlier!
  • Prepare for the meeting with a clear plan, commit it to paper and use it as the agenda for the meeting. What is the result you want? Are you looking for more money or is this promotion about valuable and strategic experience?
  • In your plan, include what other options you may be willing to consider, such as a small pay rise and a clearer career path to where you want to be.
  • Remind yourself of your career goals so you can explain these in the meeting.
  • Be prepared for an answer that you don’t like, and think about how you might respond to this.

Have all your ducks in a row

Come to the meeting with solid research to back up your request. This is not a fishing trip and a case of throwing a line out in the direction of your boss and seeing what you can reel in in terms of your next career move.

  • You must have evidence that shows how worthwhile you are to your employer. What are your achievements, what is your performance on projects, what responsibilities and skills do you have? You must have numbers to back it up, so bring those too.
  • Research what on average your potential future role would pay.
  • Take into account your skills, experience, location and sector when researching market rates, and set a minimum benchmark for what you’d accept.
  • Form a list of the companies’ goals and objectives, and consider how you would help achieve those goals should you get a promotion.

Make sure you’re noticed

To be considered for a promotion, you need to have impressed your boss or other decision makers within the business.

  • Put up your hand for extra responsibilities.
  • Ask for, and take up, professional development opportunities.
  • Do plenty of internal and external networking, so you know what’s happening in your sector. Include online networking such as forums, discussion boards and seminars, gathering valuable inside industry information.

A good way to structure the conversation itself is to ‘sandwich’ the request:

First convey how you are enjoying the business and how you have contributed to the success. Secondly share your career ambitions and plans, dovetailing that into the opportunity you see for promotion. Finally, explain how your promotion would be advantageous to the business (as in, seeing people promoted within the business rather than external recruitment is motivational to others, as a newly promoted person you’re bound to have that extra motivation to do the job well, and your boss is going to look good by having developed an internal talent).

Let me know if you need help, good luck!

Maarten Jonckers

Climbing the slippery pole – keep your career moving forward

If you want your career to progress then you have to be prepared to push it along! Embrace your current role and get all the experience, skills and knowledge it can offer you. However be mindful that your next step (and the one after) should be pointing you directly towards your career objective.

So, how do you ensure your career development stays on track and keeps up momentum, whilst doing a great job in your current position?

Continue reading “Climbing the slippery pole – keep your career moving forward”

How to manage stress

Stressed? How can you manage it rather than it managing you? When the pressure is on in the workplace, feeling stressed is completely normal. But it’s not normal to be feeling workplace stress constantly, such as when you’re at home, or on holiday.

Fear not! There are some practical things you can do.

Don’t kid yourself that multi-tasking is achieving more

You’re on a tight deadline but the phone keeps ringing, your family is on your case about an upcoming event, colleagues are firing questions at you and notifications keep popping up about things you haven’t got round to yet.

Keeping all the plates spinning is difficult enough on a normal day – how can you ditch the interruptions when your deadline really is crucial?

  • Schedule out some time in your diary and pop your headphones on at your desk. Better still, book a meeting room and lock yourself inside it.
  • Inform your colleagues and ask them not to interrupt you for a couple of hours.
  • Close your email, put your phone on silent and turn off notifications – even if you don’t read your messages and emails, the beeping is bound to distract you.
  • If it’s practical, take yourself away from your workplace altogether. A quiet café, a co-working space, or even working from home can help you be more productive without interruptions.

Make the most of peak energy

  • Do you know which time of day you work best? Prioritise your time to get your mountain of work done when you’re likely to be most productive.
  • Tackle at least one of your challenging jobs first thing, and the satisfaction of achievement will stand you in good stead to ride out the rest of the day productively.
  • Concentrating for a full eight hours may not be realistic every day. Take breaks, and if possible get some fresh air. A quick stroll around the block in the sunshine may just provide the refreshing perspective you need to successfully dive into the next job that needs to be ticked off.

Bring a healthy lunch

  • Deep down we all know it! A healthy meal during your work day is kind of important.
  • Coffee, pastries from the morning meeting and the chocolate bar you found at the bottom of your bag will play havoc with your blood sugar, and you’ll ultimately feel sluggish. Help control stress levels by eating healthily.

Break it down – take small bites

  • Do you have a mind-numbingly long list to work through, a particularly pressure-filled meeting to attend or a big project to deliver?
  • Sometimes, the only way to approach these stressful situations is to break it down into simple, bite-size steps that you can tick off as you go along.
  • Set realistic goals. There’s nothing as stressful as frantically trying to meet a target that is completely unachievable.
  • Define and identify the most important and critical steps, and list them. Then, do them, one by one. It’s amazing how ticking the list off systematically can reduce stress levels.
  • Take a moment to consider your role in the bigger picture. Are you taking on tasks that could be delegated? Is your colleague quite capable of performing tasks that you’re currently withholding for fear of not reaching perfection? Making a list of jobs that can be slid to another desk might just bring stress levels down to a more manageable level.

Don’t carry other people’s stress

  • Being in a management or supervisory position often means taking on other people’s problems. But what if that mountain gets to the point of burying you in a pile of stress? It’s time to do something about it.
  • Seek help from a superior, an equal in another department or someone in human resources. A problem shared is a problem halved, and a problem delegated is good stress management.
  • If the stress is coming from a team project of which you’re carrying the lions’ share, then call a team meeting and reiterate your shared goals. Prioritise each person’s task and move forward as a group.

Identify your stress triggers, and find perspective

If you’re finding that stress is a constant companion at work, rather than an intermittent situation tied clearly to deadlines, then you may need to look closely at what is causing it. Finding perspective may be the answer to preventing workplace stress from devouring your life on the outside.

  • Talk to colleagues or superiors to identify the root cause of the stress. Just talking through your problem may be of help.
  • Are you so entrenched in your work that you can’t see the light of day anymore? Gain perspective by considering the end goal of what you’re trying to achieve, and whether it’s worth the mental anguish you’re spending on it.
  • When you take a break, do it properly. Switch off your devices, leave your emails for tomorrow and allow yourself crucial time out. It may be as simple as going to the gym at lunchtime or after work, and leaving your phone far away in your bag or locker.
  • Sometimes, workplace stress can’t be helped but there has to be an end point. Book a holiday or a short break just after a deadline, and give yourself a breather to recuperate.
  • Know when to seek help. If you can’t shake the stress, consider talking to a professional to talk through what is causing it and to learn some coping mechanisms. Some workplaces offer counselling services and there’s no shame, or harm, in using these.

When it’s bigger than work, but impacts on work

Workplace stress may not stem from the work itself, but from an event that impacts your team, or society as a whole. This may be a shocking or tragic event, a seriously ill colleague or the announcement of a looming restructure.

  • Internalising this information without talking about it could lead to a great deal of internal stress. So how should you cope?
  • Talk to another colleague or friend about it. Sharing the load, and accepting that you are both feeling stress about the situation, may help.
  • Ask your boss to organise a meeting in a casual setting to acknowledge the event. Knowing there is support around may help everyone to cope a little bit better.
  • Do something proactive and positive. Organise a catered morning tea to allow casual discussion about an event that impacted everyone, prepare a support package for the colleague who is ill, or schedule an off-site lunch.