Time To Change
I came across the Time to Change website this week, which has the tag line of ‘let’s end mental health discrimination’ which I wholeheartedly support. I also heard, through my teaching work of people in support roles being very unsympathetic to their clients which is not good. I like to try and see both sides of a situation so wondered ‘what’s the other side of that, why are those people acting that way?’. I think the reason might be the outcome of people who joined organisations a long time ago because they were passionate about the work that was done there and things being very different these days.
Targets have been brought in, the requirement to fill in paperwork has gone through the roof and people are replaced like for like less and less when someone leaves. The squeeze of ‘do more with less’ has made the only possible approach a ‘light touch’ approach which means that things get missed and time is spent resolving problems instead of proactively planning. The peaks and troughs of workload have gone and a constant pressure to perform has become normal. Announcements about the next big change have been heard before by many who know that very little will actually change and the culture of organisations and the engagement of staff has steadily become more negative. People stay because of their salary and pensions. If I could wave a magic wand today they may well not stay in their roles out of choice, or they would if they were able to do the job they originally wanted to do, but that vision probably got lost some years ago.
That outlook could apply to so many professions, such as social work, teaching, any medical profession or form of care work and many others I’m sure. There are two sides to this problem I think; the impact of these cultural and organisational changes on the employee but also then the people they are serving. I remember Teachers at school who were clearly not bothered and my Mum telling me about women of her age being encouraged to go into teaching when they left school but probably who were never going to be very good at it. And if you’re not very good at it, then you probably don’t enjoy doing it and so years of less than fabulous educational provision were facilitated and there are still young people leaving school who can’t read and write.
Sorry, I’ve gone all political! I’ll calm down. My point is, how do you find the energy to carry on if you find yourself in this kind of situation? How do you still treat your clients, patients, customers or students well, even if you go into work each day not loving what you do and counting the days until you can leave? Professions that require you to give out a lot of energy to the people you are serving can be hugely difficult when you’re feeling low on energy yourself. That’s where the value of a good conversation between you and your Line Manager is worth its weight in gold in my view.
The Time to Change website shows the value of a conversation, of having the courage to tell someone where you’re at, even if there’s a risk of being perceived negatively. Just as times have changed in terms of those caring and supportive professions being more performance driven, so have our approaches to the value of a conversation and recognising the need for support. We can say we’re struggling now and are much more likely to get an understanding and supportive response. Organisations have policies which define their provision of support so even if your Line Manager isn’t very supportive you can access support via HR and external sources.
Times have changed, some for the better and some, not so much. But the power of a conversation is very much recognised today, so if you’re struggling please try to find the courage to speak up. The situation is affecting you and the people you serve and you didn’t join the organisation to deliver a negative impact I’m sure. Sometimes developing an exit plan can lift that feeling of pressure. It might be two years or more before you can leave but the plan helps you to lift your head and think of the great things you’ll be able to do in the future, instead of trudging through each day feeling sad, upset, disappointed, frustrated and angry, possibly. You’re more likely then to leave the people you serve with a smile every time they think of you, which is amazing
I wish I did have a magic wand but alas I put it down somewhere and can’t find it now. But the power of a conversation with the right person can be just as effective and writing down your thoughts beforehand can really help. Nothing will change unless you make it. The Time to Change website might be a good source of inspiration for you.
Take good care please and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen