27. Battling Burnout + Boosting Team Resilience with Dr. Deborah Gilboa

Episode 27: Battling Burnout + Boosting Team Resilience with Dr. Deborah Gilboa (Summary)

77% of employees report feeling burned out in the past year. 77%! Like it or not, this is a battle facing bosses everywhere, and it’s one that’s not going anywhere. We’re talking about burnout and resilience with stress expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa right now, on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about Dr. Deborah Gilboa, visit her website AskDrG.com.
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Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
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Transcript – Episode 27: Battling Burnout + Boosting Team Resilience with Dr. Deborah Gilboa

Joe:
77% of employees report feeling burned out in the past year. 77%! Like it or not, this is a battle facing bosses everywhere. And it’s one that’s not going anywhere. We’re talking about burnout and resilience with stress expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, right now on Boss Better Now.

Joe:
Greetings and salutations, BossHeroes. Welcome back to your weekly dose of advice, humor, and encouragement for bosses everywhere. Whether you’re listening on Apple, Google, Audible, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Spotify, and old FM radio…. I don’t think we’re there. Or you’re watching our episodes on the Boss Better YouTube channel… Wherever you’re listening, we are thrilled that you’re joining us. I am especially excited that you are tuning in today because of the amazing opportunity we have to learn from my brilliant guest co-host. I’m very excited for you to meet Dr. Deborah Gilboa. We know her around here as Dr. G. She’s a resilience and stress expert who appears regularly on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Doctors, and more. She’s also a frequent contributor to outlets like the Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. And her message is straightforward and essential. “Do stress better. Be resilient.” Dr. G. Is a board-certified attending family physician at Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill Health Center, where she cares for diverse patients from more than a hundred countries – who speak more than 60 different languages. She’s a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University. And if all of that, doesn’t legitimize her as a stress and resilience expert, then this will. She’s doing all of this while raising four boys. I am so excited to welcome to the show, my friend, Dr. G. – Debra Gilboa. How are you today, my friend? Welcome.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I’m fantastic. Thank you very much for having me co-host with you today.

Joe:
I am so glad that you’re here. Not just because of your brilliance and everything that we’re going to talk about today related to burnout and resilience. Um, but you have very kindly sent me a couple of notes, just telling me how much you’ve enjoyed the podcast. And so, I just want to thank you so much for that support.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
That is 100% true, and I’m not anybody’s boss — except my four kids. So, I’m listening because the content that you offer on this show, I have found to be so crucial to understanding human nature and motivating people to bring their best selves to any situation.

Joe:
That is so nice of you to say. Well, you can come back any time, no matter how the rest of this goes. Well, we want to talk a little bit today, uh, Dr. G about burnout. And I know that this is something that you’re probably getting, uh, questions about constantly these days, especially after the year that we’ve had. Um, so why don’t we start out and define the scope of the problem? How bad is it out there for people in the workforce right now?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
The statistic that you read at the beginning – 77% of employees say that they’re burned out. You know, there was actually a study in the fall of 2020, where 96% of employees, they didn’t name it “burnout”, but they identified symptoms of mental distress. I mean, 96% in research. That’s, you know, everyone basically.

Joe:
It’s absurd.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Yeah. And It’s totally understandable. I mean, you must be also hearing about it from your clients when you say, okay, we want people to try this, or I want you to try this now — Like I can barely tie my shoes. I can’t try only one single more thing.

Joe:
Yes. We just did an episode where we were talking about the long haul ahead of us in terms of helping people get away and unplug because of this, because I think people get used to cycles of burnout or feeling down, or, or what you just described as mental distress in the workplace, right? Yeah. Uh, or maybe it’s project related, or if you’ve just dealing with a difficult customer or, or there’s change happening at work that, that, that you’re struggling with. There’s so many triggers that we could point to for it, but we’re coming out of this long sustained painful period where people’s reserves have been tapped and the reserves of their reserves have been tapped. Right? And so, is it fair to say that maybe we’re living in a period of collective workplace burnout that perhaps we’ve never seen before?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I think that’s true. Certainly at least in our generation of leaders. I can’t speak to what happened in, you know, after the, the, the World War I and Spanish Flu and then The Depression, I don’t know what it was like then, but in our generation and our lifetimes, I don’t think we’ve seen something like this.

Joe:
Right. And so, what’s the impact of that. So, if we’ve got 96% of the workforce is experiencing mental distress or 77% of people are naming it as burnout, um, people are still showing up, but, but what’s the impact? What is this costing us?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
So, can we talk about the bad news before we talk about the good news?

Joe:
Yeah. Let’s do it.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Alright. The bad news. And this is through my lens as a medical doctor. The bad news is that a lot of people have been going through it, going through it, but kind of holding it together for everybody else. And as soon as you feel safe… Have you ever had this experience, Joe, as a parent, have you ever had the experience wherein the midst of an emergency — your kid falls, there’s blood everywhere, whatever it is, you do great. You hold it together. But then, when that night, your kid is tucked into bed, everything’s fine – you’ve laughed about the story…. That’s when you feel all the emotion rush through You.

Joe:
Yes. Yes.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Once you know, it’s okay. Your brain sort of opens that compartment and makes you feel all those things. And I really anticipate, I work with a lot of people in the youth development industry, and I’ve said, as we get kids together this summer and they can be together and we are in person more — or next school year, and they finally feel like, okay, it’s okay. Now that may be when we see both the adults and the kids with the toughest behaviors because now it all comes pouring out.

Joe:
Yeah. Cause it, it, you know, we’d like to think that it comes out in a, uh, emotionally intelligent and healthy way. Right? Have a good cry or go for a long run or have a, uh, a kind of emptying of the soul conversation with your partner. And hey, we’ve just done some healthy processing… But for most people, it doesn’t unload that way. Right? We, it, it trans…

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
After the shock of, oh, I had no idea that I was holding all that in. And I just want to mention that, that medical doctor piece, one of the things that this has done is suppressed everybody’s immune systems. And I don’t want to stress anybody because we’ve all been so nervous about germs and COVID, but people’s chronic illnesses are flaring. Now people are more susceptible to regular illness now because we know that when you’re under stress for a long period of time, you have all the cortisol and adrenaline and all those chemicals up, it suppresses the other systems.

Joe:
Yep. So, we’ve got the physical toll that it’s taking on us. We’ve got the toll that it’s taking on us in, in the people around us. And, you know, you just described that it, when it doesn’t come out in an emotionally healthy way, it comes out as irritability, it comes out as conflict. It comes out, you know, in some ways that are, are damaging in our relationships, in our work classes. Right, right. Yeah. Just checking out of things or saying I don’t care. And, and now we’re, we’re creating some various levels of suffering across our lives and for the lives of the people around us. Um, so

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
So, what’s not good about that news, right?

Joe:
Yeah. Right. So that’s all the bad news, but you were inferring that there’s some good news. Tell us about that.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
There is some good news. And the good news is that we’re not locked into patterns, roles, seasons, like we had been. I’ve been saying a lot to people that the pandemic showed us among other things that things we believed were written in stone are barely written in sand. This disruption – difficult as it is – and empathy is going to be one of the key tools in a leader’s toolbox. But in addition to empathy, we have opportunity. Scads and scads of opportunity to change things in small ways, in big ways that actually serve the mission of your organization. That actually benefits the mental health of both leaders and everybody they lead.

Joe:
First of all, I give you a ton of credit for using the word “scads”. What a great word. And we need to, I think that just that word doesn’t get enough play. And so, I want to celebrate that word. (Dr. Deborah Gilboa: It’s up there with shenanigans.) Yes. Good one. Um, so empathy and opportunity, then let’s, let’s translate that into some new habits and routines for leaders. And, you know, you work in healthcare, and you’ve seen the deluge that this industry has been under for so long. And there are so many adjacent industries, people, frontline workers in grocery stores, you know, and there’s so many people that we could point to have who have just been under duress for so long, uh, and would certainly qualify at any description of burnout. What are the habits and routines that leaders need to embrace in order to take advantage of this opportunity and to show up with empathy?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
So, one of the things is I want to give a suggestion – that’s a meta, up in the clouds, suggestion and one that’s down in the weeds. (Joe: Great.) The meta, up in the clouds, suggestion is to work, to do that, which we want everyone around us to do. And that is separate feelings from behaviors. If you are dealing with someone who is frustrated or scared or ashamed or despondent, those feelings for them are real, and empathy would be really helpful. But turns out that there are seven… And we don’t have to go into them… But seven different cognitive barriers to having empathy. I actually talked about this in my email blast, last week. The big lie about empathy is that if you’re a good person, empathy comes naturally. That is not at all the one barrier. I want to mention that the more tied you are to either the person or the outcome of the situation, the harder it is to find your empathy. It’s much easier to have empathy about starving children on TV, in a country you’ve never been to, and we’ll never get it right. So, the meta idea is to figure out how do I separate out empathy for your feelings – with judgments or rules about your behavior? Another one of the barriers that people endorse all the time to empathy is that if I give empathy for the feelings, I’m endorsing the behaviors or the decision-making that came out of those feelings. And that’s not true. So, I really want bosses to remember that you can have all kinds of opinions about the decision-making or the behaviors and still show genuine, authentic empathy for the feelings that led up to that.

Joe:
Okay. So, we love giving scripts and real-life examples here on our show. And I know that you know that, so what does that sound like? So if I’m sitting across from someone and I, and I love what you just said, and I’m going to come back to this question in just a second, because what I heard you describe is that for the people we are closest to in our lives, it’s at times harder to feel empathy because our emotional systems are considering all of that person, sins, and attributes prior to what they’re going through now. And we’re almost desensitized to our, our empathy for that person. Am I close?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
That’s a big piece of it. It’s not only that. We don’t, you know, some people when they’re trained to empathy, they’re taught to mirror, but mirroring is very difficult without actually feeling it yourself. So, what happens is… And picture, one of your kids, when they’re going through something where they, they didn’t even actually do anything wrong, it was just hard for them. The more you are tied to them, the harder it is to separate out and just say, that was hard for you. You’re busy thinking about the implications for them and feeling their pain as much or more than they’re feeling it. The same thing happens in the work setting. The more your behavior affects me, or your outcomes affect my bottom line or my ability to serve my mission. The harder it is for me to separate and be like that thing you’re going through over there. That seems really hard for you. And because I care about you, I care about your experience. No, no, no. I’m tied in a million ways to your experience and your work and our outcomes and our job and our mission. So, you can see how it’s really difficult to get that tiny bit of distance. A little bit of breathing room is necessary for feeling empathy for someone.

Joe:
And if we fake it, it’s inauthentic to the person on the receiving end, which actually is another level of harm that we’re doing to people.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Because they know about 99% of the time.

Joe:
Yeah. They’re like, yeah, you’re, you’re faking it to make it right now. I don’t believe you. So, let’s go back to the kind of the real-life example here and the scripting. So, you said it is possible to feel authentic empathy for the people across from you while also addressing the behaviors. So, what does that sound like?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
It sounds like transparency. It sounds like. So, Joe, I’m going to imagine for just a second that I’m your boss and you promised a client something and didn’t get it to them. And didn’t let them know you wouldn’t get it to them and didn’t let me know you wouldn’t get it to them… and just drop the ball and went home and stuck your fingers in your ears all weekend and pretended it never happened. And it’s Monday. I’ve been dealing with the fall-out all weekend. I couldn’t get ahold of you. And we’re sitting down to have this conversation. You know, exactly all the harm that it’s caused. And so, I, I want to say to you, ” Joe, we have to deal with what happened, but first I want to know, how are you?” If we’ve gotten to the point where you’ve already told me over the weekend, “I was, I was overwhelmed. I was frustrated. I didn’t have what I needed. I did know whatever it was.” Then I just want to say to you, “Hey, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and ideas about the behaviors”… and the, or maybe you wouldn’t say behaviors, cause it might sound parental, but you might say outcomes or about the practice (Joe: Or about what happened.) Or just what happened. “But first I want to acknowledge that what you were feeling last week sounds awful. And I’m really sorry that you were going through that.”

Joe:
And when the employee is expecting to get scolded or dinged or slapped down for failing to perform… When the leader comes at it from the completely other side and says, I care about you. And yes, we’ve got this big ball of, of messy things that happened… Before we get into that. I’m going to my priority is checking in on you. My… What’s most important to me is how you are feeling – even if you dropped the ball.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
And you can absolutely transparently say, “We’re going to address digging ourselves out of this mess and making sure that the next time you are dealing with difficult things, this doesn’t happen again, this can’t be the coping mechanism.” So, you don’t have to sign up for more weeks like this or more weekends like that. And you can still show empathy for this person. Uh, I put up a pretty controversial quote on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, you only have to care about the feelings of the employees you want to keep.

Joe:
You mean we don’t want to keep them all?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
If… I hope you do. I hope that you care about all your employees. I hope that at least the pandemic has given you enough disruption to separate from the people that it wasn’t working for them and for you. But every employee you want to keep, you have to care about their feelings,

Joe:
Right? And as soon as we stop demonstrating empathy for what people are going through shared or unshared, then we ended up losing talent. And that’s one of the things we’ve talked about on our show a lot already is that our employees are under no obligation to tell us about what’s causing their burnout outside of work. And we’re all dealing with things that others don’t know about. And you know, if you’ve built the kind of relationship with your direct reports filled with empathy, where you demonstrate that you care about the person where you’ve earned some trust and respect, which is kind of the magic dust of leadership, they’re going to be more likely to share with you more detail about what they’re going through, which will allow you to in turn, be more empathetic in the way that you’re talking about. But it’s not something we should assume we will get without putting in that work.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
It’s true. And I wouldn’t use someone’s openness with you as the metric of your good leadership or not, because so much of that has other… People have other…

Joe:
Boundaries.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Boundaries.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
But you know, you said something really interesting. You said I want to first check in with you. And that was the weeds suggestion I wanted to give. There is to your point about so much going on outside of work and they don’t owe us chapter and verse about their whole lives. Oprah, along with Prince Harry, have started a new series. Have you seen this?

Joe:
I saw something in the news about this. Tell us about it.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
The Me You Can’t See. And it’s to tell stories of both celebrities and people who are not at all celebrities about what is going on for them outside, what you can notice about them from meeting them. And as bosses we want to at least acknowledge “the me, you can’t see”. And one of the ways we can do that is by just exactly what you said, “checking in”. As a doctor, when you come in to see me in the office — and you don’t — just for transparency’s sake — But, when a patient comes in to see me in the office, I check their vital signs – no matter how old they are. No matter what they’re there for. And no matter how recently I’ve seen them, even if I just saw them yesterday and I had them come back. Still, we get their temperature, their pulse, their blood pressure, et cetera, et cetera. And a couple of reasons that we do that…

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
First of all, things can change very quickly. We’ve all seen that somewhat… Resilience is a growth commodity, which means like in the stock market, it can go up, but it can also crash. So, checking vital signs every time there’s a change in someone’s behavior, in someone’s stepping up for their responsibilities, and their attitude, whatever it is and regularly. So, both when there’s a change, and regularly as a part of your process. Checking their vitals. And you are all experts in your own workplace. So, you know what your vital signs are – better than I do. But I encourage you to choose three quick readings that you can get from anyone and make it a part of your process. This is the, in the “weeds” script piece. Make it a part of your process to just check those with everybody. Not because they’re in trouble, not because you think they’re on drugs, but it matters to you. You care about them. So, you want to check in.

Joe:
Right? And it all starts with that fundamental caring. We have, unfortunately, some leaders out there in the workplace who still operate with an antiquated “command and control” mentality that listen, you should just be happy that you have a job and whatever you’ve got going on in your personal life, you’re going to need to check that at the door. I don’t want to see it or hear about it. I just need you to come in and perform. And we all know, and people know who are listening to a podcast like this. Uh, typically don’t operate with that mentality, but we know that that, that doesn’t work. And we know that, uh, not caring about people in the ways that you’ve just described is not starting from that point, uh, does harm and never drives us to success.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I’ll make a crystal ball prediction about the rest of 2021 and say that leaders who are doing that… You mentioned at the beginning… People are still showing up, even though they’re burnt out… A lot of the folks, especially the folks who are being treated like…”Well, you should be grateful. You have a job.” Will only stay in that job until they can get another one. That is why they’re showing up. It is the only reason they’re pushing through the burnout. If they’re not getting any empathy or any support at work for where their mental health… for caring about them as a human.

Joe:
Absolutely. Well, we’re going to keep talking about this here in our episode.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
My prediction is they will change jobs. We’re going to see a lot of flux in the workplace, I believe in the next six months anyway, because of a bunch of factors, but this is going to be a big one.

Joe:
And not the least of which is, I have learned that I can be successful at home and at work with a kind of different accommodation or schedule or lifestyle change. And if you’re forcing me back to the way that things were, that’s not working for me, either. So, you pair those two things together, right? The lack of empathy and the lack of flexibility and accommodation. Talent’s running out the door.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
As fast as they can. And there are workplaces ready to take them.

Joe:
Right. Absolutely.

Joe:
Alright, folks. Well, what do you think? We want to hear from you, both your reactions to what you’ve heard us say so far today and your questions and ideas for future episodes. If you’re watching this episode online, then just drop a comment below the video. Otherwise, you can email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.

Joe:
Now, Dr. G we’re going to continue talking about burnout and resilience in a minute. But as a listener of our show, you know… We stop in the middle of each episode for something we call the Camaraderie Question of the Week. Bosses build camaraderie on teams by making it easier for people to find things in common with each other. That’s why every week we give you a question you can use at meetings to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. And it’s usually Alyssa and I going through these questions, but when we have guest co-hosts we invite them to play along too. And so, our Camaraderie Question this week is this, what is something you want to learn how to do but haven’t started yet.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Okay. I have one crazy thing. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do since I was a kid reading fiction, like Little House on the Prairie kind of books, and that is glassblowing… With the, and the heat and the beautiful colors. And I would love someday to… I don’t know where or how, and it sounds expensive, but I would really love to.

Joe:
First thing I have… First of all, that’s a fantastic answer. The first thing I thought of was it also sounds complicated, right? You probably need a lot of stuff. You know, I need the heating element and you know, there’s a lot to that, but I’ve seen, there are places that do classes and, and, uh, workshops. I actually went, where was I, I think I was at one of the big amusement parks, like Cedar Point or Disney World or something like that a couple of years ago. And they actually had demonstrations there, uh, where you could go and, and, and blow glass. Have you ever gotten to try anything?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I think maybe we went to a living history thing when I was in like fourth grade and there was maybe someone there blacksmithing and glassblowing. I mean, I would imagine it’s a lot. Like a couple of summers ago, I had the opportunity because of a speaking engagement. I literally drove by an airport with a sign and came back after my speaking engagement and stopped and took a hang-gliding lesson. (Joe: Wow.) That was really, I just did what the person said right next to the person, and we didn’t die. And it was super cool. I would imagine this last point is similar. It’s expensive and difficult and takes years and years to learn. So, I would imagine you sit next to an expert, and they make you feel like you are a part of it, but I’m in.

Joe:
I love it. And you know, the other thing that popped into my head, and I don’t know if this is just a byproduct of being in Western Pennsylvania, where the art is very popular, but the Chihuly blown glass artistry.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Oh, Chihuly glass… That, oh, that was, there was an exhibit at our botanical gardens that just took my breath away.

Joe:
Yeah. So, when you say glassblowing, I think of that, which we probably shouldn’t set that as the mark, right? If we’re going to try to learn how to do it, probably shouldn’t set that stuff as the mental image we get. We may not quite make that level of sophistication.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Then I will feel disappointed in the hunk of glass paperweight that I end up with after.

Joe:
Right? Right. Well, I like this question. I think it’s a fun thing to throw out to teams, whether it’s something easy in a huddle, or if you’re doing a longer, more formal kind of a meeting or team building. My answer is — play the drums. I have always wanted to learn how to play the drums. Uh, both I’ve a music background…

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
But you live with people…so they discourage that.

Joe:
But there’s a basement. And I feel like the basement would lend itself to maybe putting a little drum kit in there. And I feel like it would be both interesting and therapeutic, right? If where the function is… Hit, this really hard over and over again, how can that not be cathartic in some way?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I agree. And you said, you and your wife are musicians. (Joe: Yes.) I feel like it’s hard to say no… I do feel like you will end up with three pint-sized drummers in your house as well, but…

Joe:
Yes. And maybe it’s cathartic for them or maybe it will be the greatest error in judgment in our parenting lives. Earplugs (Dr. G: Earplugs.) Yeah, for sure. All right, folks, that’s the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

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Joe:
I’m here today with my guest co-host, Dr. Deborah Gilboa – stress and resilience expert, Dr. G for short. And we want to talk a little bit about resilience, right? In the the second half of a conversation about burnout is a natural progression to talking about resilience. And I’d love to hear from your perspective, Dr. G kind of a 30,000-foot view. What should organizations be doing, or at least thinking about in the months ahead to sort of refill the resilience gas tank for the people in their employ?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
If it’s okay. I’d like to start just with a ten-second definition of resilience. Because in my research, what I found is that this is the word we all carry around, but we have different things in the bucket of this word. Resilience is your ability to navigate change and come through it the kind of person or the kind of organization you want to be. When I ask people to define resilience…the first answer I got is the ability to bounce back. But we’re not rubber bands. We’re people. So, we are changed by everything we go through. We don’t bounce back. And everyone’s in the middle of this conversation. We’re trying to get back to oh, a new normal, or what will things look like? That’ll be different. Nobody expects it to be 2019 all over again. So, when we think about resilience, what we’re talking about is people’s ability to navigate change and come through it as the person they want to be or the kind of organization that you want to be. So that’s why it’s helpful to refill that tank. I mentioned earlier in the show that resilience is a growth commodity. You can grow it, but some things make it drop. Some things really make it tank. And as you’re thinking about this, this is your antidote to mental distress. There is no antidote to stress because stress comes from every change – The change we want, and the change we don’t. The change we expect and the change that shocked us. So, I don’t try and help anybody reduce stress because stress is actually a tool that builds our mental health and resilience. Like exercise is a tool that builds our bodies. What we need to do is be able to handle that stress and feel less winded by it. Just like with exercise, right? To be able to walk six blocks and not feel tired, or have our knees hurt. Then to deal with the stresses that are coming. And I had an employee at a seminar that I did for a corporate client recently say, “I hope to never hear again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
“It’s not a marathon. It’s life.” You know, a marathon you can choose to show up or not show up. You can quit. You can say marathons are for, I don’t even know what — crazy people. She said “I can’t choose not to run this. This is life.” And so that’s the “why” behind the question that you’re asking me… Why should we try and rebuild this? Why do we have to think about or care about, or put any of our budget into our employees’ resilience? But there are some great ways to build resilience that do not have to do with adversity. You don’t have to put your people in harm’s way or through them difficulty in order to strengthen them. That’s grit, not resilience. Resilience – there are a bunch of ways to help build… A quick plug that I have a book coming out about this in the fall…

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
But in the meantime, right now, a couple of very specific things that you could do… would be to: #1. build connections. We don’t need to dip as deep into our own bucket of resilience or our own tank if we have a network of tanks. So, if on a day where my resilience is is, is, you know, really pushed by what’s happening at work, and also was pushed by a text I got from my mom or, you know, something going on outside of the purview of work. And maybe your resilience is pushing out what’s happening at work, but you’re not as pushed by other factors that particular Tuesday morning, if we’re connected, I know how to say to you, Hey, you’re great at this. Can you give me a hand with this? So, every time we build connections through those Camaraderie Questions, I mean really simply build connections through shared birthday months. Through, uh, working on a project together through gratitude expressions, uh, through opportunities to share a little bit of like a recipe from our family. Whatever it is, all the different ways that we share with each other and build any kind of connections we will strengthen people’s resilience for a time in the future where they need just a little bit from someone

Joe:
That’s really interesting because what I’m hearing you say is that when we see people under stress, sometimes the best way to help them is just to interact with them without talking about the stress. And we simultaneously help them restore resilience by doing so, did I have that right?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
That’s it exactly. And so, it’s a good rescue medicine. You can see the lens. I look at everything, but it’s a good preventive medicine as well. If I walk into my workplace, having had a very difficult time before I got to work, whether I tell people about it or not, doesn’t really impact how supported I feel. It’s whether I believe if I told people that they would care. So, I may not choose to share it. But if I know that there are people there who over zoom or over teams or in-person will give me a smile, will be interested in how I’m doing. We’ll have a point of connection that has to do with work. It doesn’t have to do with work, the wider, my web and the deeper, my connections within that web, the more resilient I will be able to be. It’s only one of the eight skills of resilience is to build connections, but it’s a really crucial one. And it’s one that bosses can support in their workplace at any time, even when things are going great.

Joe:
So, and it’s not just about the interactions then it’s about, and, and we’ve talked a lot about this on this show as well. How are leaders creating opportunities for people to experience that? It’s not enough for me as a leader to just be concerned with the quality of my interactions with the people that report to me, I have to be concerned with the quality of the interactions taking place between the people on the team. And I specifically need to be thoughtful about creating opportunities for them to interact in ways that aren’t taxing them. That’s why we do the birthday parties and the bridal showers and the “Whose baby picture is this on the bulletin board?” So that we can foster those kinds of connections, which it sounds like is a stress buster and a resilience booster.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
It absolutely is. And you’re really smart show to say, create opportunities. You can’t micromanage other people’s relationships, but that… creating opportunities for people to make those connections and not looking at that as detracting from work or something they need to hide or sneak in, but actually welcoming it. And that – in and of itself -builds your employees’ trust with you and does make them stronger at their work.

Joe:
Yeah. So, I had a question that I knew I wanted to ask you today. I was really curious about your answer. Um, I think right now there is more being written about burnout and resilience and stress, uh, than perhaps ever before. When you think about, uh, what we see in, in online news and on LinkedIn, I, every morning I read, uh, the news in the Apple News Aggregator and, and you know, these topics are everywhere. There’s a lot of advice floating around out there for how to tackle burnout in the workplace and how to restore resilience. What is the bad advice, Dr. G, what’s the stuff that you’re seeing being suggested that that’s floating around out there in the ether that drives you nuts? I love the aside. Like you’re stealing yourself.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
A little bit because there is a generational gap. And it’s not to say that these are only the people who are old-school command and control bosses like you’re talking about. There is still a fundamental generational gap between I’m gonna put myself on the, on the wrong side of history here and say with Gen X and Boomers. We tend to think that we’re coddling people too much, that we are, um, creating fragility. It is possible to do that. And there are some experiences happening to kids and teens that I agree are coddling and creating fragility, but empathy does not create fragility. And the mistake that I see the most is when people say in essence … and you’ll tell me if you’ve ever seen articles that you agree said this… gave this impression – that if your team is struggling, it’s their job to build their resilience so that they can suck it up and work harder no matter what happens. Even if that’s not what bosses mean, sometimes that is the feeling that employees get from resilience programs, from mental health initiatives. They get this sense like I’m not going to worry about any of the things that are pressing on you. I’m just going to tell you, hey, uh, I heard you could grow a thicker skin. So do that.

Joe:
Yeah. Or, hey, well, if you’re struggling, then call the EAP, but for now, get back to work

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
On your own time, please. (Joe: Right? So that’s…) Yeah, you’re right. It’s I see how we’re a part of the problem. And I heard how you could be better at being the solution. So why don’t you avail yourself of the resources that I paid somebody to give you and then do that – And it doesn’t involve me. That’s the mistake that I feel people and I have actually seen for sure articles that are saying it — I don’t understand why you’re taking this on bosses. This is just about, you know, this is, this is finally, these people are being tested and it’s always set up in this generational way, uh…”these kids today”, you know, the first quote that I’ve ever heard from someone who said kids today said, and I’m going to have to paraphrase it because it’s long but said children today, sit when their elders enter. They chatter before company. They eat all the food — that was Socrates who said that. “Kids today” is not a new complaint and it’s not a useful complaint.

Joe:
Uh, it, it, it’s a spot-on point. I’ve done some of that generations in the workplace training for clients in the past. And I have told every group I’ve ever in front of that, the complaints you have about the generation coming in after you are the exact same complaints that the generation before you had, especially in America. We have two favorite sports overeating and criticizing youth. Like that’s, everybody’s favorite things to do — “These kids today… They don’t know the value of hard work.” It’s all cyclical. It’s all the same stuff.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
The motto of the boomers when they were teens and young adults was, “Don’t Trust Anybody Over 30.” That’s what the bumper stickers were. That’s what the posters were. I mean, if you think about it, there were some great political and economic reasons for that, but the boomers said, “Don’t Trust Anybody Over 30”.

Joe:
Alright. So, here’s my last question for you today, Dr. G, um, and this may be seen as more of an “in the weeds” question than anything else. Um, we have leaders who know they want to attend to resilience, but we know if we try to talk to our teams about resilience and we even use that word, they may want to just throat punch us… Because after the year that we’ve had — really, you want to talk to me about resilience? Didn’t I just prove it? I’m still here. I’m still doing the work. Don’t talk to me about resilience. How about you? Just give me some more vacation time. Please. And thank you. So, what are some things that leaders and organizations can do? And you’ve given us some of this already, but I’m specifically putting it in the context. How do we attend to resilience without talking about resilience, by – you know – staying away from the word?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
This is a question that I’ve been asking business leaders for the last few weeks on a bunch of discovery calls because I want to use the right language. So don’t assume. Ask, listen to the language that your employees are using when you do these vital signs – check-ins. When you say, hey, what, what don’t I know about that’s a struggle for you right now, right? And they don’t have to tell you anything that they feel is none of your business. You can set it in a work setting but then use their language. The problem with doing resilience training right now is you’re saying things have been hard. I expect them to get harder.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
So, I want to make sure that you survive, even though it’s not going to get any better, that doesn’t help. And it might be mental health, and it might be self-care, but it might be balance or it might be fulfillment, or it might be mission. I don’t know. And I really appreciate you pointing out that often as bosses, we only know what’s true for us. So, we need to ask what are the problems that we need to solve for, or we can ask specifically, what’s hard that I don’t know about, or if we could, um, sell for one thing in the next year that we haven’t mentioned, what is it? Then we get their language. And that way we can say we can evaluate, for example, programs like the programs you bring in… and that I bring into companies. I can sit as a, as a leader and evaluate what should these programs seem to solve that problem, which speaks to that language, or even better reach out to someone like your consultant that you’ve worked with, that you trust and say, here’s the problems I’m hearing about? What could you help us do to solve for that?

Joe:
There’s a pattern across everything that Dr. G has shared with us today, such such smart insight, so many helpful scripts and ideas. And the pattern is this: It’s individual conversations happening over and over again, where we solicit other people’s ideas and opinions and their challenges. And then we don’t ignore them. We take action in an effort to try to meet people where they are, uh, and help them move through what’s happening in their lives and happening at work, and maybe what’s to come. And so, uh, Dr. G any final thoughts for us today?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
I really want to point out that partnering is not the same as fixing. We’re often really afraid to ask the question, because we think, well, I won’t know what to do about it. So, I don’t want to open that can of worms. Just asking builds connections, builds trust, and helps you retain excellent talent.

Joe:
Perfect bow. For folks who are interested in keeping in touch with you or hearing from you more often, how can they follow you or find you out there on the internet?

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Well, I have a specific ask. I would love to discover more about what you’re dealing with in your workplace. So, if that’s useful to you, will you come find me on LinkedIn, please? Deborah Gilboa and it’s spelled right there on your screen and in the show notes. And, uh, and, and just message me, tell me that you heard me here on Boss Better Now, and I would be so grateful to learn what’s going on in your company so that I can address what’s really happening and not just, you know, the assumptions I have.

Joe:
We just found someone who uses LinkedIn for actual networking and communication. It’s, you’re a unicorn, my friend. Most of the time, it’s just spammy stuff out there. I’m so grateful to you for joining us today and sharing your insight and your expertise. And I know that they, that there has been a great benefit to everyone who has been listening along the way today. So, thank you for being here. my friend,

Dr. Deborah Gilboa:
Thank you so much for the conversation, Joe, and to everyone who’s listened — thanks for your time.

Joe:
As we wrap up today, folks, a question. Do you know a BossHero? We want to hear about those leaders who go to work every day, devoted to creating the conditions for people to thrive. We want to spotlight them here on our show in recognition of the difference they make in the lives of others. And we want to do this as a way to celebrate them, but also to learn about how the best bosses operate. You can nominate a BossHero for recognition on our show, by going to bossherostories.com. Fill out the form and tell us about the BossHero in your life. If we choose to share their story, you and they are going to get some pretty great BossHero swag. Tell us about the BossHeroes in your life by visiting bossherostories.com. In the meantime, thanks for being with us today. And thanks for all that you do to take care of so many.

Alyssa (Ad):
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember commitment comes from better bosses. Visit joemull.com today.

 

 

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