Bullying is commonly identified with the abuse of visible power. We close our eyes and we see the image of a big aggressive character bearing down on a little guy in a threatening manner.

In the workplace context, this translates into other familiar images of bullying –  always from above. On a Dubai building site, it might be a large group of workers ganging-up on a smaller group. On a UK factory floor, it might be a foreman picking on some nervous victim who can’t bring himself to retaliate. In boardrooms everywhere, victimisation may take more subtle forms, less violent but no less hurtful, with endless opportunities for a bully-boy director to use his seniority. And of course, bullying with a sexual or racial slant has been attracting much media attention all over the world. But whatever the image of bullying, it always suggests a downward impact from a position of physical or hierarchical power. Continue reading


The Spiral of Sleeplessness

People who have been tempted to work late hours during the boom years are inclined to dream of a less busy period when they will at least be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

But that ‘less busy period’ seems increasingly liable to turn into a recession, with its accompanying job-insecurity and money worries  –  key stressors, that can lead to significant sleep loss.

We all know that feeling at 4 in the morning, the low point of our cycle when we are woken by the nightmare of every worst-case scenario coming true, all at the same moment, and, in an economic crisis, we live in that mode, 24/7. However, driving ourselves harder and working later, does not leave us delightfully drowsy and ready to drift off into a healing sleep. It just leaves us more stressed and more likely to toss and turn miserably until dawn breaks.

Seriously switching off

sleep, stressWhen top tycoons are asked for their lifestyle tips, they often mention the ability to be able to compartmentalize their problems  –  in other words, the ability to switch-off.

Perhaps that is an excellent way to combat unnecessary job-insecurity. Your natural concern over your situation should not be allowed to dominate your thoughts, day and night. Two hours of worrying about your overdraft does not move you any closer to a solution than just 30 minutes!

Preparing for an uninterrupted seven-hour sleep is your best hope of restoring the right mental and physical state in which to tackle your problems. And that important, last hour before bedtime is the key. Continue reading


Make flexible working patterns work for you

With the end of ‘a job for life’, the ticking of the demographic ‘time bomb’, and the ever-increasing pace of new technology, employers are having to consider a wide range of new working patterns that take account of this rapidly changing work climate.


Types of flexible working

There are many well-established alternatives to full-time working:

  • Part-time working, which can vary greatly in hours worked and pattern of hours.
  • Flexitime, which allows staff to choose which hours to work (within pre-set limits), as long as they fulfil the required hours within a set period.
  • Staggered hours, whereby, for instance, some staff come in at 8am and leave at 4pm, whereas others start and leave an hour or two later.
  • Job sharing, where two staff do the job of one full-time staff member by sharing the work in an agreed fashion.
  • Shift working, which enables 24 hour coverage.
  • Unpaid leave, e.g. taking a sabbatical for a period of up to a year after an agreed length of service, or taking a career break whilst children are young.
  • Working from home, which is much easier in these days of tele-working and computer links.
  • Downshifting, where a member of staff agrees to less responsibility for less pay. This can be very useful in the run-up to retirement, and often goes hand in hand with choosing to go part-time.

 The benefits (and barriers)

In the past, an employer’s initial reaction to flexible working patterns was likely to be a downright refusal to consider these, on the grounds that it would cost money, be difficult to administer and make work, and that no serious career player would want to work anything other than full-time anyway. Nowadays such an attitude would be seen as short-sighted and counterproductive:

  • Staff want a better life-work balance at all ages. Those employers who can accommodate this by allowing flexible working patterns will be rewarded with more loyal staff who choose to stay and are absent less often. The company will have less problems with recruitment. Happier and less stressed employees are also more productive, and this in turn leads to more profits.
  • We live in a society where consumers are increasingly expecting their needs to be met 24 hours a day. To satisfy this is impossible without shift working, job sharing, part-time workers etc. Furthermore, machinery can be used to its fullest extent in a workplace where flexibility is built in.
  • Half the hours does not equate to half the effort (or half the commitment). Employees with the ability to manage their work-life balance better are more committed, not less. A company that exhibits this commitment to employees’ needs will get and retain talented people who will be prepared to commit their efforts in return.
  • An employer who can offer truly flexible working patterns is an employer of choice who will attract the best and most diverse workforce.

Despite these advantages there are still some barriers to be overcome – although these are steadily falling:

  • Attitudes must also continue to change. The culture of deciding that older people are unemployable will soon be illegal, but we need the perception of managers and colleagues to move with the times as well. There is still a macho culture in many workplaces, which says that anyone taking career breaks, working part-time, or not putting in very long hours, is not serious about their career. This is short-sighted and wrong but must still be overcome.

How are organisations reacting?

The majority of employers fall into one of three distinct categories:

  1. The ‘Proactive Group’. These are leaders in creativity and innovative thinking about how best to engage a quality workforce. In employee surveys they are invariably within the top 100 companies to work for.
  2. The ‘Reactive Group’. They know that flexible working is a good idea but tend to react to market trends and pick up initiatives from others. They often provide flexible working through fear of the consequences if they don’t.
  3. The ‘Change Resistant Group’. These are often small companies with less capacity (as they see it) for flexibility. They are likely to perceive that it only applies to their female, non-technical staff. They resist the idea because it looks risky and, at face value, is difficult to set up and administer.

These three groups may benefit considerably from the independent experience and expertise available through an external consultant. For example:

  • Group 1 may benefit from an objective forum for creating and analysing ideas, providing facilitation, quality assurance and risk analysis – and ideas the organisation may not otherwise think of.
  • Group 2 may need practical advice to help with increasing their knowledge and developing the new ideas needed to integrate flexible working into their company culture and ultimately move them into Group1.
  • Group 3 may need support to increase their knowledge, work through the risk factors, and in particular to remove their fear of change.

When considering the introduction of new patterns of working, it’s important to get it right. Early pioneers of home working, for example, did not appreciate the dangers of isolation and lack of support of their staff at home, and found that things often did not work out, with home workers sometimes ending up more stressed than in their original workplace. There are, however, ways of increasing the likelihood that flexible working will meet its objectives for both the employer and their staff, which is why it makes sense to get expert advice before introducing new work patterns – rather than to help deal with the consequences if this is not handled correctly.

Need a Motivational Speaker or Awards Host for your Next Conference or Boardroom briefing?  Work Stress Expert, Carole Spiers will deliver a charismatic, high-impact keynote presentation, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’, based on her new book, at your next conference.  Contact us info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk or call + 44 (0) 20 8954 1593

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Learn How to Deal with Stress:  Carole’s book, Show Stress Who’s Boss! shows you how to deal with stress, manage your stress & anxiety and overcome symptoms of stress.  You’ll find tools and stress management techniques to make your life stress-free.  Inside this book you’ll find 4 proven steps to relieve your stress symptoms. http://amzn.to/2sARfmd

Also available in Kindle version.


Stress management ‘helps the heart’

An American study of patients with cardiac problems appears to show a significant improvement when stress-management training forms part of their treatment.

A group undergoing exercise-based cardiac rehab was split into two, with one half also receiving anti-stress interventions such as techniques for relaxation and coping under pressure. Those patients were found to have a 50 percent lower risk of complications like heart attacks and strokes. Another similar group who did not take the exercise programme, but received the stress reduction training, showed a 40 percent lower risk than those who took neither.

This was only a small-scale study, with no opportunity to evaluate the anti-stress interventions individually, or to investigate reasons why some patients had rejected exercise-based rehab. And stress management is not a curative therapy. But the findings do suggest that this approach could help improve cardiac rehab programs. “Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., this could represent a new treatment that will help us reduce the impact of this disease,” said Dr. Eric Aldrich, a researcher in neurology and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. (As reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.)

  • Cardiac patients were taught how to relax and cope with pressure
  • The anti-stress training was found to cut heart problems by 40%-50%
  • These findings may be used to improve cardiac rehab programs

Need a Motivational Speaker or Awards Host for your Next Conference or Boardroom briefing?  Work Stress Expert, Carole Spiers will deliver a charismatic, high-impact keynote presentation, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’, based on her new book, at your next conference.  Contact us info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk or call + 44 (0) 20 8954 1593

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Learn How to Deal with Stress:  Carole’s book, Show Stress Who’s Boss! shows you how to deal with stress, manage your stress & anxiety and overcome symptoms of stress.  You’ll find tools and stress management techniques to make your life stress-free.  Inside this book you’ll find 4 proven steps to relieve your stress symptoms. http://amzn.to/2sARfmd

Also available in Kindle version.




Learn How to Manage Your Anger

How many times do you feel angry but don’t know why?  How often do you become aggressive and say things you don’t really mean, and then feel upset and guilty afterwards?  Similar events happen to most of us, at some time, and we fail to understand the reasons.

Very often, the answer has to do with excessive pressure that has caused you stress, which has turned to anger as you realise that you appear to have lost control of the situation. Then you take that anger and frustration out on others around you.  Sometimes that may be your family, or if at work, your colleagues

Low self-esteem, in addition to stress, can also be at the heart of an angry outburst.  You may not identify this factor and it is only when you start to suffer the consequences of that low self-worth that you may start take a close look at the root cause within yourself.

Becoming angry is just one way that low self-esteem manifests itself in your behaviour. “Why me? It’s not fair!” is a common angry outburst for those suffering from low self-esteem and a feeling of often being the victim in certain circumstances.

When we become angry, we become consumed with perceived injustice, and then we lose our focus on what really matters.  At work, we may feel as if we are being picked-upon, and in our personal relationships we may see fault in others where none really exist. It is as if we are seeing life through a red haze – a haze that is, in fact, anger.

Continue reading


Every Second Counts

  • Do you sometimes wish you weren’t always trying to beat the clock?
  • Do you seem to spend your day rushing around chasing your own tail?
  • Do you wish there were more than 24 hours in the day?
  • Do you envy those who can multi-task, seemingly without effort?

You may have attended time management courses, read books, used diary-planners [paper and electronic] to organise and plan your day but even with all these, there are always tasks outstanding at the end of 24 hours.  Sound familiar?  Well, you are not alone.

So, how well do you manage your time?  Well, if you are like many people, then the answer will be ‘not very effectively!’  Perhaps you often work late and are always trying to keep to another deadline.  Maybe you are a manager of a team which just manages to lurch from one completion date to another with just one hour before the due time.   In fact, what you have perfected is the art of ‘crisis management’ but that is not what you enjoy doing and, after a while, it becomes not only stressful but also demoralising.

On the converse side, when you do manage your time well, you are more productive at work and you are in a better mood when you get home, with your stress levels low.

So where is the key to utopia?  Is there one?  In fact, we all have it in our own hands.  We know that there are 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. The question is: how can we manage our time more effectively so that we get more out of each day?

Different types of time

There are two types of time: ‘real time’ and ‘personal time’.  In ‘real time’, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days in a year.   Each day, time passes exactly as the day before.  When any two individuals turn 40 years old, for instance, they have both lived for exactly 40 years, no more and no less.

But in ‘personal time’, everything is relative.  Remember when you started your first, very boring job.  Time probably dragged and you counted the seconds before you went home.  But then you started an exciting job and your time then flew past.  So it all depends on what you are doing as to whether time drags along or flies by.

Ideally you want to enjoy your work and be motivated with what you doing. However, that is not always the reality as there are going to be some tasks that you are not enthusiastic about, yet they still have to be done.  There are also times when you don’t feel motivated and yet you need to find that motivation from somewhere.  And that means that you need to learn to be self-motivated by achieving any given task not only to the satisfaction of your boss, but also to your own satisfaction.

The good news is that personal time comes from inside your head and only you can create it.   And anything that is within your power to manage with the resources available, you can control – so that really is good news!  Real time is relevant, of course, because that is what deadlines are marked in, but as we live in personal time, we need to ensure that they are synchronised at some point

Are we then saying that this is a case of ‘mind over matter’?  Well, in many ways it is.  You cannot always avoid boring jobs but you can divide them up into small chunks to help you speed up the process of dealing with them.

And how many of you pride yourselves on procrastination?  Well, you can stop procrastinating and spending hours talking about what you don’t want to do, and spend more time actually starting it and getting it finished! And that may well kick-start you to do other things that you have been procrastinating about.

With over 25 years of providing support in the field of time management, contact the Carole Spiers Group if we can help in any way:  info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk



Bullying Has No Place in a Healthy Workplace

You may have read that Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced his resignation recently. This followed months of chaos and revelations of a bullying and toxic corporate culture at Uber. Corporate culture can have a major effect on people so there is a real need for organisations and managers to focus on promoting two very important qualities – they are dignity and respect for everyone while at work.

It stands to reason that the health of any corporate culture can affect productivity. If the culture is toxic, it can be hugely detrimental to those caught up in it. When an organisation has robust procedures and zero tolerance policies against bullying in place, this will go a long way towards deterring bullies. When there are signs of stress levers such as intimidation and harassment at work, management should deal effectively with them. Having said that, it’s often difficult to identify the early signs and symptoms of bullying.

To understand this better, we need to ask ourselves –
• How does bullying behaviour manifest itself in the workplace?
• Why does one person regard a particular behaviour as bullying, while someone else sees it as tolerable, simply indicating a dominant attitude (even if such an attitude may be unwelcome)?


Bullying behaviour can be overt or covert

Bullying behaviour relies on a wide range of tactics – overt and covert. Disparaging remarks or criticism made by colleagues or managers can have harmful effects on an individual at the receiving end. This individual then feels their professional competence is being called into question – and it’s undermining their work.

Overt tactics can include public rebuke for alleged errors made by an individual in their work. Covert tactics can take the form of circulating rumours or gossip appearing to question an individual’s ability. These tactics can also be expressed as inaction.

For example, failing to acknowledge or approve work that’s been done well. Or omitting to ask for someone’s opinion, when that someone is clearly best qualified to comment.

You can recognise bullies, because typically they –
• Make unreasonable demands on their chosen target
• Shout at victims publicly, as a deliberate tactic to disempower them
• Give instructions which they then change for no apparent reason
• Allocate tasks which they know are beyond an individual’s ability
• Block promotion by refusing to give fair appraisals
• Fail to endorse pay increases or bonus awards, though fully earned
• Exclude an individual from discussions germane to their work responsibilities
You may well have observed some of these behaviours happening in work situations yourself – sadly, they’re not that uncommon.

How does bullying affect people?

People who are bullied at work often feel they’ve lost control, and they’re no longer able to carry out their duties efficiently. They try to regain the semblance of normality – but frequently this is unsuccessful. After a while, people who’ve been bullied may become tense, anxious, prone to emotional outbursts, and behave un-cooperatively. Worse still, the stress that bullying causes often leads to minor illnesses, such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and fatigue. When people experience stress over time, this can result in more serious health problems – for example, very unpleasant conditions such as ‘burnout’.

When they’re being subjected to bullying, people are often reluctant to discuss their experience for fear of reprisal or further intimidation. Talking about it may be seen as a ‘black mark’ against them that could damage their career progression. Most victims of bullying have two main aims – they want to keep their job and they want the situation to return to normal.

What actions can an organisation take to prevent bullying?

• Introduce policies to counteract bullying and harassment
• Train HR people to recognise the signs and symptoms of bullying
• Carry out stress and culture audits to identify ‘hot spots’
• Focus on developing soft skills
• Mediate between ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’
• Ask a question such as ‘Have you ever experienced bullying in this organisation?’ during exit interviews

What you should remember

• Bullying behaviour is always unacceptable
• Your people may need to be taught how to confront bullies
• Anti-bullying policies should complement your organisational culture

With over 25 years of providing training, mediation and consultancy in the field of workplace bullying, contact us if we can help in any way: info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk




How to cope with trauma

We are living through extraordinary times, the like of which we have never before experienced in the UK.  Our emergency services and hospital teams sweep into action after each atrocity to offer assistance to the injured and comfort those who suffered the ultimate loss.  For those who lost family members or sustained life-changing injuries, the road ahead is long and painful.  At first, people will remember the victims but, as time goes by and terror campaigns targeting innocent victims continue, names will sadly turn into statistics.

Traumatic events in the workplace

However, you don’t have to be caught up in terrorist attacks to feel the effects of trauma. It could be that simply watching the news brings reminders of a time when you experienced trauma yourself. Trauma may be brought on by events such as an accident at home or at work, a robbery, a fire, lay-offs, death in service, threats, violence, or natural disasters such as floods.

What can an organisation do?

Nothing can adequately prepare organisations or individuals for the occurrence of a traumatic incident because, by definition, such incidents are outside ‘normal’ experience. However, research shows that the way an organisation treats its staff in the aftermath of a traumatic incident can have a profound effect, not only on the recovery of individuals directly involved, but also on their colleagues and families. Individuals may be traumatised by a disaster for some time afterwards and during this period their productivity and commitment to the organisation can be drastically reduced. Managers may find themselves having to play a key role in managing a situation which might ultimately be more damaging to the organisation than the original event.

The nature of trauma

Anyone who has been involved in a traumatic incident is likely to experience some form of reaction to it. Such reactions may happen immediately or they may not occur until weeks, months, or sometimes years afterwards.

Staff are more likely to be badly affected if:

  • There were fatalities and/ or injuries during the traumatic incident, and these were sudden or violent
  • Individuals experience feelings of guilt, wondering whether they could have done more to help the injured or could have prevented the incident from happening
  • They lack adequate support from family, friends or colleagues
  • Stress arising from the incident comes on top of existing problems that are unrelated

Emotional reactions

An individual’s emotions are likely to be in turmoil after an incident, although some people may not feel anything. Amongst the more common reactions are:

Irrational guilt for having survived when others did not

Anger at what has happened, or at the injustice or senselessness of it

Fear of breaking down or losing control and being unable to cope

Shame for not having reacted as they might have been expected to

Sadness at the deaths and injuries of colleagues

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People are very likely to find that they are unable to stop thinking about the incident. They may experience disturbed sleep, suffer loss of memory, concentration or motivation. They may experience flashbacks and hate to be reminded of what happened, or may always have to be on their guard against a repetition of the incident.

Physiological reactions

Individuals often experience reactions such as tiredness, sleeplessness, having nightmares, dizziness, palpitations, shaking, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the throat and chest, sickness, diarrhoea, menstrual problems, changes in sexual interest, changes in eating habits, and many other symptoms. Frequently these may occur without any conscious connection being made with the incident.

Resultant behavioural problems

Individuals may be hurt following the incident and their personal relationships, particularly with their partner, may be placed under additional strain. They could find themselves taking their anger out on family, or emotionally withdrawing from close contacts, just when they need them most.

What can be done to help?

Nature often heals by allowing feelings to emerge naturally, enabling people to want to talk about them. This should be encouraged if the opportunity arises.

Talking to a trained counsellor is often beneficial and can reduce much of the tension and anxiety. Trying to ignore personal feelings or avoiding having to think or talk about the incident, in the belief that the individual can cope, is usually counter-productive in the long run. Suppressing feelings can lead to problems being stored up which can create even greater difficulties.

When to ask for professional support

People who have experienced a traumatic incident should be encouraged to seek professional help if they:

  • Experience chronic tension, are exhausted or depressed
  • Continue to have nightmares, are sleeping badly, or have flashbacks
  • Have no-one to share their emotions with
  • Think their relationships seem to be suffering or sexual problems develop
  • Start to be accident-prone, or their work performance suffers

It is important to encourage individuals to remember that talking about their experience can help. Suppressing their feelings, on the other hand, can lead to further problems in the future.

With over 25 years of providing support in the field of trauma and post traumatic stress, contact the Carole Spiers Group if we can help in any way:  info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk



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Changing Times Demand Positive Leadership

Following the result of the UK general election, Theresa May will possibly need to re-evaluate her management style to quell a leadership challenge and ensure that the Brexit negotiations run smoothly.  Mrs May needs to exhibit strong leadership that will be an exemplar of determined action that motivates and inspires members of the Conservative party. Party members will be seeking direction, purpose and most importantly, reassurance and confidence.

Most organisations will be affected by the inevitable changes that Brexit will bring to the UK.  Uncertainty is endemic and it is therefore imperative that leaders need to be visible, available and above all to be able to communicate openly with their workforce.  It is during these times that managers must offer their teams a focus that is clear and an anchor that is strong.

Change brings uncertainty. However, it affects everyone differently.   The challenge facing leaders and managers is that different people take dissimilar timescales to arrive at the acceptance point of change.

Emotions may run high but it is the leadership role to stand apart from emotional responses and to concentrate on the situational facts.   Employees will seek direction and reassurance and managers will need to understand the differing impact that change can have.  No two people will be affected identically and reactions will differ accordingly. It is essential to appreciate these fundamental facts to manage change effectively. Continue reading


Do You Believe in ‘Happiness Hours’?

Happy people are the most productive

Happy people are the most productive

I totally endorse the new initiative from the Dubai Health Authority in introducing ‘happiness hours’ for hard working employees who complete their tasks to a high standard: the reward being that they will be allowed to leave work three hours early once a month.

Of course, the key to employee motivation with increased performance and productivity is dependent upon excellent management initiatives and good communications.

Provided that leaders appreciate and value their teams, then they will find they have a more engaged and inspired workforce who will always give of their best.

Phrases that increase performance and productivity

However, often the challenge is that many managers rarely know how to give praise and, therefore,  a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘you’ve done really well and I appreciate that’…is rarely said.

      'Thank you...','I appreciate what you have done','Well done'...

If managers bring this language into the average working day, they will find that they will have happy workers with enhanced engagement and increased productivity.

On the other hand, where employees feel like they are merely ‘a number’, then all the ‘happiness hours’ in the world will not help!

We know that managing people is not easy. If leaders don’t have the necessary vital communication skills, then they need to be trained to develop this skillset as part of their leadership portfolio.

Communications is key to a successful business! To motivate its workforce, the DNA has to train its managers, at all levels, to recognise that the company’s most important asset is its human resource.

Book Carole as a Motivational Speaker Now!  She will deliver a charismatic, high-impact keynote presentation at your next conference. 

Contact us: info@carolespiers.co.uk or call

+ 44 (0) 20 8954 1593. www.carolespiers.co.uk