Whether you are a manager, a peer or a direct report, there are going to be situations at work that cause to you become stressed. It could be an incident, a difficult interaction, a stressful meeting, or a challenging relationship. The simple act of talking to somebody – a qualified coach or a counsellor or even a friend – helps to process what has happened and allow you to move forward. Paul Beal, Managing Director of Insightful Exchange shares his thoughts on the importance of employee mental health.
How are you…. really?
The phrase “how are you?” has become a form of greeting, a pleasant one, but it may not always be delivered or heard as a genuine question about how someone is feeling or what they are experiencing right now. Being supportive starts with asking the question again with a small edit – “How are you…. really?”- then using active listening skills and making time to really hear the response.
How has the response to mental health in the workplace changed?
There has been a positive shift in perceptions and awareness of mental health in a work environment. The faster pace of working life, challenges experienced by working through Covid and the isolation of remote and hybrid working have highlighted mental health as an important corporate issue. I’ve noticed a change in attitude, mental health is discussed more openly, and the language used in the workplace is more helpful. The right conditions exist for employees to say that they are struggling with mental health, or they are feeling anxious about work.
How is mental health awareness important for leaders and those in leadership roles?
It is important as part of regular one-to-ones that leaders check in with their people and give the necessary time to discuss where they are personally and how they’re feeling. By being curious, compassionate and empathetic, leaders have an opportunity to get a sense of what’s going on in somebody’s life. This holistic awareness has a positive impact on how employees feel at work and how you, as a leader, can support and develop them in their role.
What is changing in the world of coaching to reflect greater awareness of mental health?
There is research evidence around models that integrate counselling and coaching and it is an area that professional bodies are considering. If somebody is really stuck with an issue, the coaching model asks, “what are you going to do about that?” However, there are times when people are stuck because they genuinely don’t understand why they are feeling the way they do. Counselling skills are helpful in exploring not the issue alone, but why individuals have a particular issue and are feeling the way they do.
How has the integration of counselling and coaching influenced your practice as a coach?
It has been transformational for me as a coach. During the height of the pandemic, we coached over 300 frontline NHS staff. This group wanted to talk about their feelings and what was happening outside of work. Our team of coaches had both counselling and coaching backgrounds and were able to use their range of skills. The feedback we received was tremendous. The staff felt supported and had space to think. I’m very proud that as a business, we were able to help frontline NHS staff in this way.
What would you say to somebody who is considering embarking on coaching?
I would say – “It’s good to talk”. What is unique about the coaching or the counselling relationship is that you are talking to a trained professional who is there to be supportive, empathetic and non-judgmental. In this environment, a rapport and trust are built very quickly. You can explore issues because you are in a safe and confidential space. You are talking to somebody who is there to focus on you and help you find the way to move forward. That, in my opinion, is the power of coaching.
If you or your team are in need of some help to move forward in the best possible way, make sure you get in touch with us on 07854 315 665 or email us to find out how we can assist you, your leaders and your wider team today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.