The Busy Bug – more virulent than our farm parasites and potentially just as deadly
How many times do we hear our own words echoing the frantic “I am so busy, there is so much to do” and feel in the response in our bodies as elevated heart rate, tension and breathing as we automatically prepare for fight or flight. This signals our infection with the Busy Bug which without treatment is often far more fatal than our farm parasites to our leaders and teams.
Prevention of the Busy Bug (BB) is a powerful leadership tool. When our teams are in fight or flight mode as they battle the BB, their focus is narrow, their vision limited and their energy on the wane. A Leader’s thoughtful intervention creates opportunity for more time, creativity and joy.
How then as leaders do we put in a public health plan to protect our organizations and ourselves from the ravages of the BB?
Our Farm management of animal parasites gives some great leadership clues to reducing the impact of the virulent BB in humans.
1. Know your pest. Test for it and measure the load of the parasite in your herd. Leaders need to look and listen for the BB in their teams. Listen for the urgency stirred by the infection. Watch for Teams and colleagues who are pressed in words and actions, taking actions that are not clearly thought out, pressing for action too soon, and overreacting to comments or situations, working long overtime hours without clear cause, scurrying around frantically infecting others with their BB pest.
Once noticed, pay attention to it by naming it, noticing the impact and working with the team to notice in their work where quality, safety and relationships are being made less than by infections of the BB. Work with them on a plan to eliminate this nasty pest in their work.
2. Inoculate against the impact of the BB in those that are badly infected. With individuals and teams who you notice are infected – create breathing space by meeting with them, having them get their heads up and focus on the big dot goals and what will get them there, re-set plans to be doable and workable. In badly infected individuals, isolate them from others by finding time and space for them to focus on the task that is overwhelming them. Have them notice the impact of their “infection” on the success and the joy of others.
3. Kick the habit. Often teams have a habit of repeating we are so busy – what would change if their habitual phrase was “ we are very busy doing great work and we have lots of time”
4. Vaccinate your team against the BB – often BB habits arise as a way of teams attempting to acknowledge themselves and let others know that they are hard workers. As a leader you know that acknowledgement is a powerful tool – so acknowledge often and use your acknowledgements for work well done, effort appreciated and success celebrated to eliminate the need for self induced BB infections.
5. Do a barn yard sweep. Look for the places that harbour the BB. Ineffective processes, rules that once were reasonable now get in peoples way, rules that have been enacted and no one knows why, equipment that has not been repaired or updated, money that has not been spent that could improve a process or outcome, the inability to say NO in individuals and teams, the avoidance of difficult conversations. Using Process improvement tools such as LEAN or Six Sigma can help detect and eliminate process breeding grounds for the BB. Coaching for more effective relationship skills can help address the interpersonal causes of this deadly infection.
Don’t let your teams or yourself suffer the debilitating blahs of the BB ! Get to know your BB, Inoculate your teams, Kick the Habits that help it grow, Vaccinate against it taking hold and Do a workplace sweep to eliminate its breeding grounds and then Celebrate the energy, shining eyes and hunger for more that work without the BB can produce !!