I am no stranger to stress in the professional workplace. In fact I am testimony to it having worked in three very stress-full places of employment. Working in the Northumbrian Water business at the time of privatisation, working in the off shore oil and gas exploration setting and in an an entrepreneurial software engineering setting while the business was sold off to venture capitalists.
Two weeks or so ago I was contacted by the head teacher of an extremely prestigious North East school. The conversation was two fold. They required personal assistance and the school staff were massively stressed because an OFSTED inspection was looming and how could I help the staff?
Twice in the first five minutes of our conversation I was asked for an invoice to come into the school to help the teachers with their extreme stress. This is a blank check for my services. Anyone thinking there is no money in the local schools will have a bit of a shock. My fees were never discussed and I was asked twice for my invoice details.
Each time I politely refused because I wanted to come into the school and observe the environment and because until I was sure what I would offer would make a real difference I would not take any money for my services. I am as sure as I can be that I could help the teachers change their coping responses but I like to see first hand before that kind of professional contractual obligation.
In my line of work as a therapist and a teacher of NLP I have had the privileged of working and meeting several teachers that are effected by the pressures of an OFSTED inspection. I have also met one of the highest people in OFSTED who runs the massive coordination of school inspections at the highest level. So I am reasonably familiar with the different effects this has on a wide variety of people.
This head teacher described their personal problem as one of those all two familiar acronyms where things have to be just so or there is massive anxiety. I would think that a successful head of an enterprise needs to have these kinds of structures when all is going well. It’s called being a head.
I explained to the head I require a completed questionnaire before our appointment and arranged their personal appointment and I also arranged a time, the week after our one to one appointment to come to the school and meet the staff, the head, the occupational psychologist and whoever else would be there.
I contacted the head teacher twice to remind them to complete and return their questionnaire before our appointment. Guess what happened. That is right, nothing! So two days before our scheduled appointment I emailed a third time to postpone our one to one because they had failed ( love to say that to a teacher ) to follow my terms and conditions and could we re-arrange our appointment.
The reply was priceless. It was ‘cancel my appointment and cancel the school one too.’ I was not shocked at all because I had anticipated this knee jerk reaction.
Anyone who can not follow processes as simple as filling a questionnaire is unlikely to take on board any advice and techniques I suggest to be implemented in dealing with stress. I was so very much looking forward to working with people who do amazing jobs, teaching our next generations, work out some ways to turn stress into pressure.
IF you are a mega-stressed teacher at this school or any school in the North East, call me, fill in the questionnaire! and I will do my very best to help you find ways to turn what I know can be massive stress into workable pressure.