Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

We’re in lockdown and we’re all finding it pretty tough. Really not sure how we’ll pull through...

So how about you right now?

Noticed yourself feeling a whole mix of emotions? Maybe some not so comfortable?

Let’s be honest, we’re in uncharted waters and on new ground. Whatever we thought was normal, isn’t - for now anyway.

A little bit not okay is okay

Experiencing a variety of emotions, including feeling unsettled about life being upended, and concerned about how the future might look is an entirely normal response.  What  matters now is how you respond to these in yourself and others.

And how are your staff and colleagues coping with these big changes? Having difficulty with the uncertainty it all brings needs an empathic ear and heart. However being able to accept your and others’ emotions is important, but may not be quite enough.

You are not alone. Managing ourselves and teams in this time can feel challenging. We know that current business realities have stopped us in our tracks and made us all review our ‘work as usual’ approach.

But there’s a gift in all this

Yep, a real one, if you’re willing to go there. Try asking yourself: ‘What’s good about this situation we’re in?’

One big key to developing greater sense of wellbeing is to remember that emotions drive people and people drive success. And, by acknowledging how our emotions are impacting us and our work we create the opportunity to be emotionally honest and to connect authentically. 

How does that matter?

Being open and authentic allows us to accept and talk about emotions we find uncomfortable. It allows other people to do the same - and feel you understand what it's like for them. It builds rapport more rapidly than ignoring emotions and trying to pretend that it's business as usual. When Sir Ernest Shackelton's team was marooned in Antarctica with little hope of survival, he made sure he acknowledged their fears (but didn't feed them). Our Prime Minister has matched extensive research by openly acknowledging our fears about the virus and jobs.

Engaging with yourself, and your people, in a conversation about how each of you are feeling and what supports wellbeing during this unusual time can happen informally using a ‘fireside chat’ style. It’s a great door opener to uncover imaginative, yet unrealised ways to rejuvenate you all at work. It’s being heard that helps people feel better. And when we feel better we work better. And that’s one powerful way you can support people's welbeing.

Sound simple? Yes, but it may ask you to actively listen to some of the hard stuff.

Maybe your goal is a better job, a pay rise, or fewer hours at work. Maybe being fitter and healthier.

How about just being more resilient or at ease? Sound good?

Whether it’s a tangible goal or an emotional state, my guess is you’re likely to agree these goals are desirable.

But in the ‘how to achieve them’, something often gets in the way. It’s not willpower. Sheer persistence isn’t a quality most have. But often, one simple, yet very significant barrier stops us getting where we want to be.

“Yes, but .....”

You get inspired by the positive energy of the idea. But then the ‘how to’ side of it can bog you down with too much thinking about the details.

Why usual SMART thinking doesn't work

You probably know the SMART goal acronym, right? You might be thinking, ‘Tried that, didn’t work.’ Or, yeah yeah, but it’s not that inspiring.

The biggest reason goal setting doesn’t work for many is that it’s too cognitive – it just doesn't engage us emotionally.

So think of something you’d like to bring into your life, or like more of. Using this SMARTER approach, it nicely balances your thoughts and feelings. Then action is more likely to naturally flow from them.

There's a better way

Answering these seven SMARTER questions will help you focus on your goal in a way that feels good. It's more emotionally intelligent and you are more likely to succeed.

  • What’s Special about this goal?
  • What’s Meaningful to me about this goal?
  • Does this goal Align my thoughts, feelings and actions?
  • Does this goal make me Reach up and grow?
  • How much Time will I need for this goal to fruit?
  • How Enthusiastic am I about having this goal?
  • What will the Rewards be once I’ve achieved it?

Daniel Goleman, author of ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why it matters more than IQ’ says:

‘In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.’

So to be successful in life, we need to include the intelligence of our emotions in what we want. If it feels good, you’re more likely to do it.

So what would you love to achieve?


Ready for what to do next?  Why (ordinary) SMART goals won't get you there and what will

Interested in a workshop for your team on setting and achieving goals? Contact us

About Dharan Longley

dharan longley blog

Dharan Longley is a Senior Trainer at Skillset.

Dharan is an international master trainer with post-graduate qualifications in adult education.

His assignments have included training police officers and university managers in the Middle East, as well as teachers and staff of large organisations in New Zealand.

Dharan's topics are 'effective meetings', 'problem-solving and decision-making', 'team development', 'training for trainers' and 'customer service'. He particularly enjoys helping people with diverse points of view agree on practical solutions.

Dharan is based in Wellington. He has a passion for the outdoors. On days off, he’ll be taking photographs of forests or waves, or out kite surfing.

Interested in training in team leadership?

We'll design a workshop especially for your leaders. Let's help them focus on what really makes the difference between top-performing teams and the also-rans.

Learn more

Interested in training for your trainers?

Our highly-experienced trainers can help your trainers and subject matter experts make their sessions engaging - and the ideas and skills memorable.

Learn more

Interested in training to make meetings more effective?

An effective meetings workshop will help your teams achieve more in less time – and with less frustration.

Learn more