Good managers look after themselves too

The reason for starting a recruitment process is usually that a skilled employee has left the company. Keeping skilled people requires investment in good management. And this means paying attention to the managers' wellbeing, according to Marja Pylkkänen, Alma Career Oy's Managing Director. She offers five tips for looking after yourself.

The theme at the Nordic Business Forum event held at the beginning of October was the impact of good leadership on the company.

John C. Maxwell discussed managers' continuous investment in themselves. Arianna Huffington also emphasised the importance of taking care of yourself, which means getting enough sleep and achieving a good work-life balance. She said that in order to be able to make good decisions, a manager needs to be fit. When you are tired you just make decisions for the sake of making decisions and also to shorten the to-do list. The consequences of this can be devastating in circumstances such as recruitment.

We talk a lot about wellbeing at work and how to improve it, but we tend to forget that we are the biggest contributors to our own wellbeing and ability to cope at work. Each one of us can take charge of our own wellbeing, and it does not necessarily even require huge resources or massive changes. By paying attention to small things such as getting sufficient sleep and drinking enough water every day we can work wonders on our vitality levels.

A wake-up call based on own experiences

Sometimes we need a wake-up call to start making changes. I had mine in the spring last year when I realised that I could not concentrate on anything in the afternoon. My memory started to let me down and I would snap at my closest colleagues. I did not smile much, nor did I come up with new ideas the way I used to.

Marja Pylkkänen started looking after her wellbeing when she realised that she was not quite as cheerful as before and could not come up with new ideas. The project is ongoing.

Five tips that we can all benefit from.

Since this topic is relevant once again with the dark autumn evenings, I put together five tips, based on my own experiences and the changes I have made, that we can all benefit from. They will improve your wellbeing and vitality, and they will help you to be a better manager and colleague.

Five tips:

1) Eat yourself invigorated

A good breakfast is one of the foundations of a good day. Your body and brain need energy in order to start up. A good breakfast is made up of fibre, protein and good fatty acids in appropriate portions. The importance of breakfast is more pronounced if you are used to having your lunch quite late. A healthy breakfast and lunch consisting of a variety of ingredients and eaten at the right time will keep your blood sugar levels stable. Changes in blood sugar levels, caused by processed wheat, fast food and sweets, can leave you feeling tired and unable to focus.

2) Make sure you drink enough water

It is advisable to drink a couple of litres of water every day. If you drink a lot of coffee, remember to increase your intake of water. Dehydration weakens your ability to function and concentrate, and it causes drowsiness. A drop in alertness is normal in the afternoon. If you make sure you drink enough water in the morning, you will notice that you are much more alert at the meetings held in the afternoon. I wholeheartedly recommend this tip.

3) More physical activity

Exercise improves your alertness and mood. According to recommendations, we should engage in vigorous exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time for at least a total of 150 minutes every week. We also need workout to tone muscles at least twice a week. The Regional Health and Well-being Study (ATH) shows that only one in ten Finns meets the recommendations. It is no wonder that we are tired at work, suffer from back pain and are overweight. In addition, when people are unfit, they catch colds and other diseases much more easily. If you do not do any exercise, you could try a brisk walk for 30 minutes after work. You could leave your phone at home and listen to some music. Exercise helps you to relax and it takes your mind off work. If you travel a lot on business, a good way to prepare yourself for meetings is to go for a walk or jog in the morning; it is also a great way to see the town.

4) Challenge yourself

John C. Maxwell, who spoke at the Nordic Business Forum about leadership, said that a good manager cannot give what they do not have. Constantly challenging and improving yourself is important. You can learn new things in various ways such as reading, discussions and participating in seminars. I started public health studies a year ago, and even if the studies are not directly related to my current job, I have learnt various facts that are useful for my own wellbeing. Learning a new subject is also an efficient way to leave work matters behind, and what is even better is that it boosts your enthusiasm for your job in unexpected ways, and we all know that enthusiasm is contagious.

5) Get enough sleep

Sleep needs vary between individuals but, on average, six to eight hours of sleep is sufficient. The quantity and quality of sleep are something we can influence. When we go to bed, we should clear our mind and go easy on exercise. Arianna Huffington suggested that it is a good idea to stop using your smartphone or tablet well before bedtime and leave all devices outside the bedroom if possible.

If your diary is full of events to attend and you sleep badly, you should pay attention to the amount of alcohol that you drink. Drinking alcohol regularly increases time spent in REM sleep and the sleep is more fitful. If the quantity and quality of sleep are not good enough, this will lead to drowsiness and lack of concentration during the day. Long-term sleep deprivation can affect our decision-making skills and weaken our immune system.

These are small things that have a huge impact on our wellbeing and coping at work. When you are fit, you can be more engaged and create an inspiring atmosphere around you.

I hope you all have an energetic autumn.

Marja Pylkkänen