I had the great opportunity to attend SHRM18 in Chicago this year. This is the largest gathering of HR professionals in the world and there are 100s of speakers and sessions to attend; it can be overwhelming to try to figure out what to see and even more overwhelming to figure out what to do with all the information you get. In order to make it not so overwhelming, I try to find just one thing - just one take away, one thing to share. This doesn't mean I stop learning, stop taking in information, but the pressure is off!
This year, I found my one take away at the #SmartStage with Dr. Karlyn Borysenko. (I enjoyed her Smart Stage presentation so much, I actually got up and went to her session on Playing Politics at 7am the next day.)
In order to #ZenYourWork, you focus on yourself. You can only control your actions and reactions and to be happy at work, it is best to focus on your actions and reactions. You need to let your emotions control your experience and not let your experience control your emotions.
Let's repeat that:
“Let your emotion drive your experience and don’t let your experience drive your emotion”
How often do we let the experience determine what our emotion is? I know I do this more often than I should. Last week was a great example. It was a rough week. Lots of highs and lows. I let myself feel the frustrations, and I know it showed. I was less patient when the same question popped up, again. I was more apt to snap when someone didn’t know the answer to a question. And that’s not the HR professional I want to be for my employees. I don’t want them to worry about which Wendy is going to show up to the office that day.
Choose your Emotion, Control your Reaction
I tell my daughters, a lot, that they can choose to be happy. I tell my supervisors that they can only control themselves.
We have a hard time following our own advice, don't we! Sometimes, we do need to hear it from someone else.
But this can be difficult. It is so easy to let the experience control your reactions, right? It’s easier to pass the buck than take responsibility. It’s easier to let the circumstances overwhelm you. But we make that decision long before the experience even happens.
Satisfaction at work is a low bar to meet. The problem is not what you think it is. The problem is how you react to them. Change your reaction; change your experience. - Karlyn Borysenko
We do not have to attend every fight we’re invited to. We do not need to immediately respond to everything that is said. Have you ever wished for a pause button in life? A chance to just slow the situation down so you can take a quick second to think before you respond? Why not do that?
Sometimes it can be as simple as:
- The morning mirror pep talk that “Today is going to be a good day.”
- Taking a drink of the beverage in front of you to take a minute before responding. I always have a glass of water on my desk. Use an empty glass if you need to (as long as it’s not a clear glass the other person will never know you aren’t taking a real drink).
- Excusing yourself. Take a quick walk to the bathroom to clear your mind, calm your emotions and determine how you want to react.
- Even an “interesting, can I get back to you?” could bide you an extra day or two for your response.
These can allow you to control your response, allow your emotions to control your experience. To me, the key is “control.”
And this is really something worth sharing with employees. With all the talk about employee engagement/satisfaction and leadership hearing "what are you going to do about it?", perhaps it's time to reshift the focus.
Rather than focusing on the experiences leadership is providing, we should (and we should help our employees) focus on our emotions to guide the experience. Which also means, we need to take control over our own engagement and satisfaction.
We cannot allow our career satisfaction to rest in someone else's hands. We cannot continue to allow our happiness at work to depend on someone else's reaction to what's happening.
As employers, we can control parts of the environment, we can guide the culture, but we cannot force someone to engage. And we MUST do this. If we are not holding staff accountable to their duties, to the behavior we expect, we are not helping the situation.
Even so, we cannot control everything. We cannot force someone to engage or even be satisfied at work. Which is why I love this take away so much. We need to take responsibility for our own engagement, our own satisfaction at work. We need to decide what we want to do and if we want to be engaged, to be satisfied.
It's time for employee engagement responsibilities to be with the only person who can truly control engagement: the individual.
Wendy Dailey is an HR Business Partner in South Dakota. With almost 20 years of experience in human resources, she has worked in a variety of industries including construction, airlines, banking, and healthcare. Wendy is active in her local SHRM group, DisruptHR and in the #HRTribe on Twitter. She is co-host of the #HRSocialHour podcast and twitter chat. Wendy was named to the 2018 SHRM blogging team and writes for Workology, Prosky and on her Personal Blog: My Dailey Journey
In her spare time, Wendy enjoys spending time with her family and leading her daughters’ Girl Scout troops Connect with Wendy on Twitter.