Manageable Guides

Expert views on topics relevant to all leaders and teams.

Keith Goddard is an Occupational Psychologist and Sports & Exercise Psychologist. He uses his expertise to help people, teams and organisations achieve extraordinary things - be it in the boardroom or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He's regularly called upon to develop and deliver well-being, resilience and change programmes.

Hi, I'm Keith Goddard, and I'm a registered occupational psychologist and a registered sports psychologist. I work with people in business, so managers and leaders and businesses, helping them get successful at what they do. Today, I'm gonna introduce my Manageable Guide to thriving, which is helping people get the best out of their life. Thriving is when you're fully absorbed in what you do, really enjoying it, taking on challenges. So it's really thinking about and understanding what you can definitely control and what you definitely can't control. So you, the person, the role that you're performing, and the context that you're in. In each of those three, there will be elements that you can definitely control, definitely can't control and the art to thriving is understanding that. One of the other things that we try and get people to think about is to make active choices and taking small steps towards bigger things that you choose to take on in life. I'm Keith Goddard, and this is my Manageable Guide to thriving.

The research in our experience suggests that actually people who feel as though they've got a purpose, at work, in life, actually are more satisfied, more motivated, and have better well being. Also, the research suggests that organisations that focus on translating their organisational purpose to their employees, actually, they get better results from those people, both in terms of job satisfaction, but also performance as well. So the golden mean, I guess, is having dreams and purpose, but also getting on and pursuing those as well. For us purpose is about the why, the why of work, the why of life. People tend to have a particular approach of how they give meaning to what they're doing and that tends to fall into three areas: achieving, doing and being. I guess, the key question is, what's your ideal? So a lot of people spend a lot of time just focusing on achieving, and they get to the end of the week, get to the end of the year, get to the end of their life and say, well, what have I done? We know of people who are motivated, have greater sense of enjoyment in work, in their hobbies, and relationships and in family life. But we don't quite often spend time actually thinking about what really motivates us. As managers and leaders you must think about other people's motivation because people are at their best when they're motivated.

So we talked about that, but also people are the best when they're doing what they're good at. So it's a unique combination of what you're motivated by, and what you're good at. People quite often have the psychological need for control or choice. People also have the psychological need to get good at things, to master things to be competent. And if these psychological needs are met, they're nourished and they allow us to flourish. And finally, there's the thing about connectedness for people, and that's being part of something. So when you translate this back into the workplace, as a manager, how much are you controlling what people do, versus giving them control and choice of what they do? And equally, how much stretch are you creating for people in order for them to be able to challenge themselves, master things? And equally, are you supporting them in those things? As a manager and leader are you thinking about the team context, the level of connectivity, the level of cohesion for people? The more we challenge ourselves, the stronger we will be. And the interesting thing is we can be motivated by challenge, but we can also fear it as well and therefore we can avoid getting started. It's important when you as a manager are giving your staff and your employees challenges, you're stretching them and supporting them. It's recognising that the maybe the inherent fears that might be stopping them from getting started, don't mean they're not motivated to take on the challenge.

Resilience is the perceived ability to cope. We have coping resources on one side, and we have demands on the other side. And what you'd hope is your coping resources are better than the demand. For you'll have inherent coping resources, you might be born resilient, you might have had life events that make you more resilient. Equally, you could be your own worst enemy, and sit on the demand side. Do you leave things to the last minute, which creates more demand? One of the key things we talk a lot about when we talk about resilience is to understand yourself, know yourself, and name your fears. Understand what's distressing you, what's challenging, what's disturbing the force. Once you name it, you can do something about it. And actually, once you've learned to master those things, that's when you start to fly and thrive. I think with emotional resilience, there's a technique we call which is about notice and naming, when you are spending time just noticing your emotions. There's no such thing as good or bad emotion. They're all either helpful or unhelpful. And that's where active choices really play a part in your emotional well being.

One of the core anchors within mindfulness is using multi-sensory experiences. And really that's trying to help your mind stay focused on what you want to do. For example, if you go for a walk today, this evening, first of all, decide on the purpose of that walk, and while you're doing that, use 5,4,3,2,1. You can play around with what these are. So for example, five things that you can see, four things that you can hear, three things that you can smell, two things that you can touch, and one thing that you can test safely if you're on a walk. Sometimes just using 5,4,3,2,1, when you're walking into the environment, when you want to take time out is really important. It really anchors you to the environment and what you're trying to focus on, rather than getting absorbed with as doing or achieving. So given that we're talking about resilience, sometimes we find ourselves like a rabbit in the headlights, and the easiest thing to do is what we call chunk forward or chunk up. So for this minute, what are we going to do? For this hour what we're going to do and what's the next hour about? What are we going to do today? What's this day about? What's this week about? What's this month about? So you're moving away from the disturbance or the distress.

Now, it's just a really useful technique to shift you forward, rather than sense static or moving backwards. And I just wanted to have a brief word about confidence. We know confidence can shift hugely depending on the role that you're in or the environment that you're in. It's a very simple technique. So when you're in doubt, there are three questions to ask yourself. And it's useful as a manager, to think about these for your people as well. If you see them not taking on the thing that you want to take them on, and just think about it in your head or directly ask them three questions. First one, do you know what's required? Go and get some information. Question two, have you got the skills required? Or can you get the skills? And the third question is, are you emotionally up for it? Have you got the resilience and motivation to do what's required?

One thing we know about habits is we find them quite easily as human beings and they're really useful. There's some problems with habits though. If you're trying to stop something that has been habitual for many years, that's gonna be really difficult. So we talk about approach goals, not avoidance goals. Aim to do something new, rather than stopping something that's old. So stopping smoking is going to be tough. Deciding to have a healthier lifestyle is easier. And that's what we call an approach goal. So therefore, any new habits you want to put in place need to be brighter, shinier, more motivational and more frequently exercised than the old ones. You also need clear cues and triggers that activate that behaviour or that routine, you need to signpost for it. You also need rewards. So as soon as you do that behaviour, you need to reward yourself for doing it. If you don't, it won't be reinforced and that's basically your habit formula. One of the things to think about as a manager or a leader in the workplace is are you clear on the behaviours and new routines you want people to do? Are you, is the workplace, signposting, triggering and cueing those behaviours and are they getting rewarded in some way, when it happens?

Interestingly enough, neurologically, as soon as you start talking about avoidance goals, you certainly actually create intent towards doing that avoidance. So telling somebody not to do something actually tells the brain to do it. And we have a very simple technique, which is 45, 15. So if you've got the ability in your environment to do this, is in an hour, 45 minutes of solid concentrated work and then 15 minutes about rejuvenation, resetting, thinking about the next session. And what we're not trying to do is to do eight of those in an eight hour day, because that's not setting yourself up for success, but doing four 45, 15. And that's about actually setting yourself up to perform in your environment. So whatever you're trying to do in the thrive territory, taking on challenges, you'll figure out what will get in your way, and have a plan to do something about that.

Most people will fall off the horse at some point. It's figuring out how you're going to get back on, practically, psychologically and emotionally and pre-empting that. And that's not being negative about what we fail. It's not about failures. When we trip up, how do we get up? So overall, the key question in terms of thriving is around are you ready to change? And change and thrive is about readiness. Create momentum, and impetus energy and move forward with it. Don't think, just do. So those three things together, give us our tools and techniques and approaches to thrive. I'm Keith Goddard, and this is my Manageable Guide to thriving.