Posts Taged self-esteem

Staggering reduction in numbers for the unemployed!

Staggering unemployment results!

Getting the long term unemployed back to work

Government statistics yesterday told us that there were less than 2 million people unemployed. These are staggering unemployment results!  Is this just luck or a planned approach?  We worked with @protrainuk, last year on a pilot project as part of David Cameron’s agenda to try and get as many long term unemployed people back into work as possible.  Our project involved a combination of activities to raise their self-esteem and confidence, as well as enhance their core skills and the opportunity to gain a range of qualifications.   A tall order, especially when some of the participants could have fallen into the category outlined by Lord Freud as having “disabilities “, and so perhaps “could be paid as little as £2 an hour”

In relation to Lord Freud’s comment, the initial thing I noticed about working with this group, was the difference between who I thought I’d get on the course and who actually turned up.  My vision was coloured by the media who often portray this group of people as aggressive scroungers with violent dogs and unruly children. The type who you would see in the pubs all day, and who didn’t want to get a job unless it paid a minimum of £17,000 a year!

Unemployed or unemployable?

Don’t get me wrong, I did meet one or two people like that on this project, but the overwhelming majority were people who could have been you or I, who had experienced bad luck in work or their personal lives or suffered from mental health issues, from phobias, depression to full mental health breakdowns. On more than one occasion, I thought there but for the grace of God go I!  Would we be classed as having a disability and so be worth less in the job market?  In almost all cases, people WANTED to work, and would take any job, and had or were involved in voluntary work as well.Staggering unemployment results!

My role

For some individuals, our role was to challenge them, and say what they must do,  if they really wanted a job.  By offering constructive support most individuals in my groups rose to the challenge, and often began to think about what they could be and wanted to do.   We often were amazed during the mock interviews at seeing the change in people.  They were suited and booted and looked ready to tackle the world, and for these people being interviewed was as nerve racking as it got!  A significant number of my groups suffered from some form of panic attacks on the morning, but very few didn’t turn up, but went through the process, and tried their best to present themselves in as good a light as possible.
Myself and the other tutors ensured we built relationships with our groups, because we were going to be with them for a number of weeks and also to  be able to praise and support individuals when they felt they just couldn’t do it. Imagine what guts it took for them to enter a classroom environment with a load of other strangers in the first place. One man said to me, “You don’t know how many medical drugs I need to take just to be able to step foot outside of my front door”. Another told me “I have to fight with myself to come here everyday. My fear can be overwhelming”.  Some of these were the people that Lord Freud could have been referring to, and I must say, I felt passionate and proud of my involvement in this project, and honoured to meet some of these people, who had overcome so much anxiety and adversity to even get to my classroom door.  This took guts to do and probably was harder to overcome than the potential loss of some of their benefit, as was a sanction at the time, under the ‘Help to Work: New unemployment rules in force’.

The focus of the work we did with this group of clients, was no different to any we do with corporate training or personal coaching.  It still focused on developing individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and encouraging them to take risks in a learning environment. They developed key communication skills, both written and verbal, and also had the opportunity to gain accredited qualifications.  The only difference being, very few people thought this group would actually succeed in achieving these things.  They did!

What’s your view on how to help people return to work after a period of unemployment?  Contact Paula  @therealme_PDP

Motivation Part 1

motivation part 1

This blog entry is one of three. In this one, I am going to look at one theory of what motivates us to work? The next blog will address what motivates us to work hard willingly and well and the third what demotivates us at work?

Having been involved in the professional development of people for nearly 30 years, I can categorically tell you that if someone doesn’t want to be motivated by external forces, they won’t be. I can also be pretty certain that the KITA school of motivation (Kick in the A***), will get a person to do a task, but not without resentment, and certainly won’t encourage them to do it of their own free will.

Previously we have looked at how power might be played out at work. The KITA approach can be used with Coercive Power, as well as Positional and Social Power abuse and can therefore be unpalatable to the receiver. These approaches will get the job done, but won’t necessarily encourage someone to continue to do the task of their own free will, or empower them to do able to do it.

So, what will motivate them? The saying “the door to motivation is locked from the inside” is true. As managers and colleagues in the work place, we have to understand why different staff members do their jobs. There must also be recognition that what may motivate one person, may not do so for another. This is obviously complex, but the premise we will examine in this article, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which five levels of human need are portrayed as a pyramid.

In today’s society, most people go to work because they need the money. I read recently that many people are “only four months of no income away from the breadline”. If that is true then Maslow’s ‘Physiological/Biological’ first or most basic level is probably achieved in 2014 by having a steady income, which allows us to buy food and pay for a warm shelter.

The level of income may well then allow his second stage to be achieved, where we need to address ‘Safety/Security‘ needs. We will have the money needed to pay the mortgage or rent, be able to keep our home secure, and perhaps be able to save to allow a monetary buffer, if work becomes unstable or the cost of living rises.

I come across many colleagues who are quite financially stable, mortgages paid off, kids flown the nest, to whom money is not the main driver to come to work. So what is? Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of school. What was the motivator to go? Well, the basic two reasons as discussed above, were met by your parents (or whoever provided for you). So, apart from going to school because it was compulsory, what else motivated you? The majority of us went to see friends, to socialise, to build social networks and perhaps find a relationship (help with that @therealme_PDP).

Similarly, many of us go to work because we like the social aspect of it. The third level in Maslow’s hierarchy focuses on ‘Belonging and Love‘, in which the majority of people need, and relish, being part of a team, belonging to a group, having the camaraderie that can come from working with the same people each day. I meet colleagues who are working far longer than their paid working day. When this is examined, it is not always because they are genuinely overloaded, but more about being part of something that has a purpose.

If your life has that social aspect away from work, you might need something else to motivate you in the workplace. In my expanding work with graduates, on Graduate or Government based Fast Stream programmes, I see this more and more. Financially these new entrants may be reasonably secure, socially very active and happy, so they use work to achieve something else. Maslow’s fourth level of the pyramid focuses on ‘Self-Esteem and Sense of Achievement‘. This is where the workplace is used to gain status or respect, as an individual becomes recognised for being really good at something. People may want to be seen as being the fixers, the experts, and to use work as a place to begin building professional reputations, which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Maslow’s highest level is described as ‘Self Actualisation / Self-fulfilment’. This is when your behaviour is driven by your desire for personal growth and fulfilment, rather than external factors or pressures. Many people will spend most of their lives striving to reach this level, and maybe there is something to be said for retirement, in which people feel they have the time and financial resources to really engage in the activities they wish to do, regardless of how crazy they may sound!

If you agree with Maslow’s theory, then each of these different levels will need to be understood, in order to motivate yourself or others at work. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais “you can’t learn the cello when you are eating out of bins!”

Next Blog – What makes us work hard, willingly and well!

Self Esteem, Self Confidence, Assertiveness. What are they? Do you have them? Are they important?

Today I tweeted and asked what is the difference between self esteem, self confidence and assertiveness.  These are key attributes that everyone needs in order to feel positive about themselves and to allow you to establish and maintain good working relationships with others, regardless of whether these are business or personal relationships.

Self esteem is “a realistic respect for, or favourable impression of oneself, or self-respect” , and at times could be “an inordinately or exaggeratedly favourable impression of oneself”

Do you have a healthy respect for yourself?  Do you recognise your favourable qualities?  If you do, you can refer to these qualities when you are feeling low, rejected or when someone has made a negative comment about you.  The problem occurs if you have a negative self-image and so low self esteem.   If you think you’re unattractive, too fat, too thin, aren’t very clever etc, then you have no positive reserves to fall back on, and this can stop you taking risks or pushing yourself forward, whether in a job or a relationship.      self-confidence

In my career of teaching, training and coaching, I have used an idea of   Jenny Mosley’s (Quality Circle Time), to get people to really think about   how they see themselves.  Take a moment now, and think of all the positive things about you and imagine each one as a gold coin.  Do you have a hefty pile in your hand or only one or two to fall back on. If the latter is the case, why would you take a risk and possibly fail?  All it would do, is confirm that you were unattractive, s/he wouldn’t like you etc.  If it was the former, then you would most probably say oh well, it was worth a try and dust yourself off and move on!

Self confidence is “realistic confidence in one’s own judgement, ability, power etc” or “an excessive or inflated confidence ” in oneself  I was discussing the ability to come across as confident, yet still have low self esteem, and low self-confidence in some areas of life, with a group of people the other day, and each outlined an area where they felt they wouldn’t succeed in, including having an intimate relationship with someone.  From an outsiders’ perspective, these women appeared confident and assertive in their ability to take on challenges, most had well paid jobs, and made sound judgements regarding work and areas of their personal life.  However, each was quick to point out that “I’ve never been very good at…”, or “I can’t…”.  and quickly became irritated or despondent when questioned further and encouraged to see beyond this potential stumbling block.  confidence


You may have low self esteem in the area of relationships, but be very self confident in other things such as your ability to organise a house move, or to negotiate the best price when buying a new car.  You KNOW and TRUST in your ability and judgment in these areas, and will appear confident to others and they will assume this confidence applies to all areas of your life.  Where are you less confident?  Do others know about this?  If not, how do you mask it and is it to your detriment?
assetivenessAssertiveness focuses on your actions, words and interaction with another person. Do others see you as confident, self-assured, or bordering on being aggressive.  There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression and often it is down to the other person’s perception of you as to which type of behaviour they think they have seen.  It is very subjective and is a key skill that can be taught and is often a component of company management training programmes, as well as individual coaching.

Assertiveness is knowing your rights and responsibilities and standing up for them.  This means understanding the potential consequences of your actions, and in my next blog, I will explore some of the rights and responsibilities we all have. Crucially, assertiveness is also about understanding that other people have rights and making sure you don’t violate those.