Overwhelm, the opportunity in finding the breaking point

You don’t know when breaking point will come. It simmers in the background until one more thing, that very last thing, pushes you over the edge .. into the abyss called, “I just can’t even”.

Right now, many Victorians who have been keeping their breaking point simmering away, are about to be brought to boil. Endless news cycle of “road blocks”, “police enforcement” and messages from government leadership, blaming the people when this failing is most certainly shared with the bureaucrats.

What does it mean for how people interact with their workplace and colleagues. If you are lucky enough to be working, we can expect a lower threshold for honesty. Rocking the boat, sharing how you feel for fear of being seen as difficult.. everyone is hanging on to what they have.

It also brings a wave of renewed perspective, leaner teams will connect people who would not have spoken. There is opportunity for empathy and compassion because you are all in this together. Shared resilience as we pick each other up and say ‘it’s okay, I feel that way too’. More open discussions about our children, our home lives, and the tensions simmering for us in the background. More laughter as we are introduced to pets on video calls or sharing of GIFs via MS Teams.

Indeed, there has never been a time, where it is has been more okay to bring your whole self to work. With that, we require more relational intelligence, how to navigate those raw and honest moments. From my 10 years experience in HR and L&D, here is just a handful of intimate moments, people find most challenging, with common fears italicised…

  • When a person breaks down in tears ..gosh I don’t want to make this worse, should I cheer this person up?
  • When a person is trying to balance work and care giving … but I need them to do the work, how do I be firm but fair, what do can I say?
  • When a person shares they are suffering anxiety … I don’t want to make this worse, I don’t know what to do, maybe I’ll just refer them to the EAP and put that performance convo on hold, I don’t want to make it worse
  • When a person has a chronic health disorder getting in the way of work … okay what does this mean long term, should I ask
  • When someone takes a string of unexplained personal leave days … really, that’s so frustrating, everyone is doing it tough… how do I talk to them about this…

There is no clear cut playbook for how to handle these scenarios. There are so many strategies. You can be better at your approach, but your ability to respond in the moment, will be a result of your accumulated internal personal development and professional development.

The call out for L&D – this isn’t something for People Teams to fix. It’s also about individual accountability – are we building systems and a culture where the norm is to invest in this part of yourself and others? Or, are you in a business where the only measure you truely have is the $$$.

L&D can play a part in questioning what we are measuring and the impact of that on the learning culture. If all you measure is the result … why would someone change their behaviour?

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