08 Oct Looking after my team’s mental health
Because of my experiences with my own mental health, I make a special effort to look after the wellbeing of my team. Here’s how.
In my last article on the psychological impact of entrepreneurship, I talked about how running a business can take its toll on your wellbeing unless you manage it correctly. In this article, I’m going to show you how, as a founder working with a team, I try to help them look after themselves. I’ve got more than ten people working in my business now and I need them with me!
Leading a business is like spinning plates. You need to set up a plate, get it spinning then hand it off to someone else and get them to hold it. The thing with me is that I like the best china plates and I want them to spin faster than anyone else’s. Then, once I’ve got my plates spinning faster than everybody else’s, I want to add more!
The reality is, I only have two hands. If you don’t have anyone else to help you, things can get out of control pretty quickly. That’s what happened to me when I was running side projects alongside working for a company. I put too much pressure on myself.
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar in my twenties, it took the wind out of my sails. I thought that I might never be able to achieve the dream of building a business that I had since boyhood. However, I managed it. Now, I hope to sustain myself as a founder than can execute and achieve my goals, but also design an organisation where my employees are productive, as well as maintain a healthy wellbeing.
People are the number one drivers of success. I want to design an organisation that attracts the best people and treats them so well they want to stay. I also want to prevent myself and my team needing to take sick leave. So, at Sales Confidence, we have:
· Flexible working — flexible hours, working from home
· 30 days holiday, plus Bank Holidays, Christmas etc
· Unlimited wellbeing days — I don’t need you working at 8 am if we’ve had a Sales Confidence event the night before
We don’t have an office yet, but there’s a great sense of community at Sales Confidence. We care for each other and we communicate all the time. Because of my experiences with mental health, I know how important it is that my team understand that they don’t need to put pressure on themselves.
Wellbeing action plan
For everyone that joins the Sales Confidence business, we create a wellbeing action plan. It’s only a one-page document, but it makes a big difference. The purpose of a wellbeing action plan is awareness; the challenges you might experience and how we should respond. It’s all about understanding your limits.
I would like to see every organisation use these plans to safeguard wellbeing in their teams. Put it at the centre of your core values. While it’s there to help the wellbeing of your staff, it will also improve retention, which makes a difference to the bottom line.
Those are some of the measures I take to help my new team stay healthy, mentally and physically. I’m glad more people are speaking publicly about mental health and the pressure that business brings, I hope more founders and VCs will make similar moves in the future. I’m going to talk about this at SaaStock in Dublin.
A final piece of advice: Be aware of the pressure you put on people. Don’t destroy people if you miss target. Break the cycle of crash and burn.
Your team will thank you.