Learning this skill could help reduce burnout
Burnout and stress levels remain high as Americans prepare to enter year three of the pandemic.
Through it all, a leadership expert Deborah Grayson Riegel took a pulse on where workers struggle the most, based on demand for its online courses that cover leadership and communication skills. In 2020, for example, she developed a course in managing anxiety, a skill that has seen demand increase by 4,000% on the online learning site Udemy for Business.
In 2021, one of the biggest skills she’s seen people struggle with is just knowing how to ask for help, she told CNBC Make It.
Interest in learning how to ask for, offer and accept help at work has ‘exploded’ this year and has taken over the usual soft skills people want to learn, such as speaking in public and clear communication, says Riegel.
But the main reason people don’t ask for help, even though it might alleviate their stress and anxiety, is because they don’t know what to ask.
“When we ask for help,” says Riegel, “we say ‘I need help’ but don’t think specifically: do I need someone to think along with me? Do I need someone to connect to a resource? Do I need someone just to sympathize with me and listen to me? “
Workers may be more able to ask for help when they know exactly what they need from the other party. Riegel breaks it down into two main types of help., popularized by leadership authors Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard: direction and support.
Asking for direction is asking to be told to “go for it” or “do this,” says Riegel. “This is for when you are developing a skill or a skill and need instructions, guidance, clear goals, deadlines, examples of what a ‘good’ looks like and frequent feedback on your progress. so that you can hopefully learn to do it all on your own at some point. “
For example, to get directional help, your coworker might share some insider tips on how to make a request with a strict administrative assistant.
Support, on the other hand, is “less talking, teaching and counseling and more asking, encouraging, empathizing,” says Riegel.
For example, she says, “You might get three job offers in a week. You don’t need your brother to advise you which one to take, but you can use a little reminder that you’re used to making great decisions. “
Yet even when offered, workers may be reluctant to accept help because of bad experiences in the past – such as if a colleague offered to participate in a project but then took over completely, or if they were reprimanded by their boss for asking for help with a task.
Managers, in turn, tend to help employees based on what they think the other person wants, rather than taking the time to figure out what they really need, says Riegel: “Usually , when we help people, our version of helping is to say, “Let me tell you what to do. It’s useful sometimes, but not most of the time. “
To solve this problem, organizations need to invest in manager training that teaches them how to provide the right kind of directional or support-based help depending on the situation, says Riegel.
Managers could also learn to recognize the signs of anxiety, stress and burnout, and facilitate conversations or connect employees with resources that can help them manage stress.
These trainings must be seen from the angle of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, she adds. “There are significant cultural differences in how people think about asking for help,” says Riegel, especially employees from groups who are under-represented or who don’t feel a sense of psychological security to speak up. authentic way in the workplace.
Companies prioritized mental health during Covid, so why are we still so exhausted?
‘I’m Putting My Life on Hold’: How Workers Tackle Covid Burnout
4.8 Million Working Parents Suffer From “Preventable” Burnout: Here Are 5 Things That Can Relieve Stress
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