KM and Mental Health #discussion-starter


Matt Moore
 

Hi,


I want to raise the issue of mental health and KM.

When we work with knowledge we almost always work with people. My questions are:

- Can our work surface mental health issues (e.g. burn out) in those we work with? If so, how do we handle those? (given that most of us are not trained mental health professionals)

- How do we protect our own mental health in the work that we do? 

- I suspect there are trained mental health professionals on these lists so I welcome your input. But anyone is welcome to comment.


If people want to post anonymously then feel free to email me and I will forward on your behalf with all identifying info removed. I absolutely guarantee confidentiality. Altho please note, I am not a trained mental health professional.

Regards,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504


Ninez Piezas-Jerbi
 

Hello,

In case this helps, where I work, we created an Employee Network without really knowing it was some kind of KM.  It was a space that allowed colleagues to be their whole selves at the workplace.  Since we all had families issues, emotional issues, physical issues, and also common interests like music, sports, art, giving back to the local community and the environment, we figured the knowledge we could all potentially share, especially our contacts or personal learning, could help those with issues that directly or indirectly affect their work (and don‘t even realize it).  Music, for example, is a universal language that everyone understands and can feel connected with.  We created our own choir and who regularly meet just to connect with their music (no hierarchy there) get a breather from their daily work.  

A good example that also works is our network of colleagues who have family member with special needs esp. mental health issues. The good thing about making KM even more « official » in the organization is that people in this group felt even more courageous to come together and share information on doctors, best stress-management practices, traumatic experiences and just to be there for others. Since COVID, the Employee Networks also started organizing webinars with medical professionals, clinical psychologists, specific coaches just to talk about things you don't usually talk about in the workplace - handling grief, anxiety, being a caregiver for your family, too much "drama" in the workplace or in life.  We also used in-house resources by asking staff with special skills like yoga, meditation and qigong to give weekly virtual classes for free. And they were more than happy to share their private skills.  Creating a supporting culture was very helpful for my colleagues to start being kinder to each other and especially for building trust, thus making it easier to share information or simply just to ask a work-related question to someone you know only by name. 

Hope this helps.

best,
Ninez Piezas-Jerbi
World Trade Organization,
Geneva

On Sat, Dec 4, 2021 at 12:26 AM Matt Moore <matt@...> wrote:
Hi,


I want to raise the issue of mental health and KM.

When we work with knowledge we almost always work with people. My questions are:

- Can our work surface mental health issues (e.g. burn out) in those we work with? If so, how do we handle those? (given that most of us are not trained mental health professionals)

- How do we protect our own mental health in the work that we do? 

- I suspect there are trained mental health professionals on these lists so I welcome your input. But anyone is welcome to comment.


If people want to post anonymously then feel free to email me and I will forward on your behalf with all identifying info removed. I absolutely guarantee confidentiality. Altho please note, I am not a trained mental health professional.

Regards,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504


Nick Milton
 

In reply to Matt's comment; when I was an active knowledge manager and facilitating lots of Retrospect meetings, I often felt I was playing the role of unlicensed and unofficial therapist. In a good no-blame non-judgmental "safe space" meeting, people can discuss the undiscussables and talk about (for example) project failures that otherwise could have been swept under the carpet. Although the purpose of such a  meeting is to uncover knowledge, it has a side benefit of helping with closure.

 

I remember once sitting in the departure bay of an offshore platform waiting for the helicopter back to shore after a series of such meetings, and a chap came up to me and said "I just want to say thanks, mate, for listening to us". I felt quite touched.

 

It's good to talk, and a lot of KM is talking, and (more importantly) listening. Like the boilermaker said after one AAR; "you know, before this nobody had ever asked me what I thought"

 

I am not at all a mental health professional and have no such training, so much of this may be naive, but any of us can ask and listen, and this is a behaviour which KM promotes and facilitates.

 

 

Nick Milton
Knoco Ltd
www.knoco.com

www.facebook.com/knoco.ltd

www.linkedin.com/company/knoco-ltd
mobile +44 (0)7803 592947

email nick.milton@...

blog  www.nickmilton.com

twitter @nickknoco

Author of the recent book - "The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook" – one of the 100 best management books of all time

 

"Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land." 
--Mark Lee

 

 

From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 03 December 2021 23:26
To: SIKM@groups.io; km4dev@...
Subject: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health

 

Hi,

 

 

I want to raise the issue of mental health and KM.

 

When we work with knowledge we almost always work with people. My questions are:

 

- Can our work surface mental health issues (e.g. burn out) in those we work with? If so, how do we handle those? (given that most of us are not trained mental health professionals)

 

- How do we protect our own mental health in the work that we do? 

 

- I suspect there are trained mental health professionals on these lists so I welcome your input. But anyone is welcome to comment.

 

 

If people want to post anonymously then feel free to email me and I will forward on your behalf with all identifying info removed. I absolutely guarantee confidentiality. Altho please note, I am not a trained mental health professional.

 

Regards,

 

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504


John Carney
 


Interesting juxtaposition in the title of this blog so I thought I’d post from my own experience recently leading KM in a U.K. Government Department - I am now back working on my other love Science Futures and just a part of that change is mental health related 

Negatives
The feeling of banging ones head against a wall in hoping to inculcate organisational change - important to set realistic personal expectations and not forget emotional resilience 
The deep frustration that folk cite on a daily basis of not being able to find information to do their jobs

Positives
We have very active on line Forums supported by management that deal separately with mental health and neurodiversity 
My recent work on leading Communities as part of the KM agenda - I am told it has brought a sense of social integration and our on line Forums as a whole are useful for this (but a slight negative again is that conversations can sometimes be diverted into negative territory) 

Let’s not forget the role of the pandemic here which I think dominates more than the pros and cons of KM 

Happy Xmas / holidays / Mental Health to you all

John 



On 4 Dec 2021, at 09:32, Nick Milton <nick.milton@...> wrote:



In reply to Matt's comment; when I was an active knowledge manager and facilitating lots of Retrospect meetings, I often felt I was playing the role of unlicensed and unofficial therapist. In a good no-blame non-judgmental "safe space" meeting, people can discuss the undiscussables and talk about (for example) project failures that otherwise could have been swept under the carpet. Although the purpose of such a  meeting is to uncover knowledge, it has a side benefit of helping with closure.

 

I remember once sitting in the departure bay of an offshore platform waiting for the helicopter back to shore after a series of such meetings, and a chap came up to me and said "I just want to say thanks, mate, for listening to us". I felt quite touched.

 

It's good to talk, and a lot of KM is talking, and (more importantly) listening. Like the boilermaker said after one AAR; "you know, before this nobody had ever asked me what I thought"

 

I am not at all a mental health professional and have no such training, so much of this may be naive, but any of us can ask and listen, and this is a behaviour which KM promotes and facilitates.

 

 

Nick Milton
Knoco Ltd
www.knoco.com

www.facebook.com/knoco.ltd

www.linkedin.com/company/knoco-ltd
mobile +44 (0)7803 592947

email nick.milton@...

blog  www.nickmilton.com

twitter @nickknoco

Author of the recent book - "The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook" – one of the 100 best management books of all time

 

"Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land." 
--Mark Lee

 

 

From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 03 December 2021 23:26
To: SIKM@groups.io; km4dev@...
Subject: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health

 

Hi,

 

 

I want to raise the issue of mental health and KM.

 

When we work with knowledge we almost always work with people. My questions are:

 

- Can our work surface mental health issues (e.g. burn out) in those we work with? If so, how do we handle those? (given that most of us are not trained mental health professionals)

 

- How do we protect our own mental health in the work that we do? 

 

- I suspect there are trained mental health professionals on these lists so I welcome your input. But anyone is welcome to comment.

 

 

If people want to post anonymously then feel free to email me and I will forward on your behalf with all identifying info removed. I absolutely guarantee confidentiality. Altho please note, I am not a trained mental health professional.

 

Regards,

 

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504


Patrick Lambe
 

[Two separate messages below, sent to KM4Dev - Stan invited me to repost here, very lightly edited]

On 4 Dec 2021, at 3:51 PM, Patrick Lambe <plambe@...> wrote:

Thanks, Matt 

Matt you spoke in your post about work (and workplaces, workplace norms) being designed for “normal” people. That is also the case for lots of mechanistically designed knowledge management approaches, solutions, systems. 

I am coming to believe that there is no “normal”, that we are all carrying (and often concealing) baggage and conditions that render challenges to ourselves and to those we interact with. And we are all tidal, with good moments and bad moments. Some of our concealing work keeps things on an even keel, some of it does real harm. 

If this is all true, then it would suggest that KM would be better seen as a set of negotiations between selves and teams, between teams and organisations, rather than the standardised application of accepted good practices, without regard for the people involved.

(This, by the way, is not an argument against standards in KM - if the standard’s role is to provide a framework /point of reference against which to manage those negotiations).

KM should be able to help in principle, but it can also be part of the problem, when it becomes an idealised solution that is disengaged from real people and real work.

To your question Matt, “how do we handle this?” at a very basic level we need to acknowledge, in the words of the Life of Brian, “we are all different!” and we need to be building KM cultures that recognise differences and the importance of context in our colleagues’ personal lives as well as their organisational lives, and that the two cannot be as cleanly segregated as the sense of “normal” would suggest. Perhaps we need to be less tolerant of ourselves when we try to dance the corporate tune and alienate or hurt others as a result. We need to get better at noticing ourselves and others, rather than insisting we all follow some idealised norm. 

There’s a concept in sociology called ‘mutual ignorance’ which describes how people often behave in a way that conforms to the way they think everybody else expects them to. Some fascinating experiments in the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s documented survey results that said college campuses should not become mixed race because the societal pushback would be too negative. But when they followed up with interviews, they found that individually, a majority of the respondents thought mixed race campuses would be a good thing. But nobody expressed this opinion in public because they thought (wrongly) that everybody else was against it. Jerry Harvey immortalised this for the field of management in his parable of the Abilene Paradox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abilene_paradox. When you read the story you wonder, “why did those people just not talk to, or listen to, each other?” 

I don’t believe it’s complicated to solve the problem of mutual ignorance, but it does require that we step outside the fairy tale and acknowledge the grit in ourselves and others, and it requires constant work at building and maintaining trust in all directions. That’s not something we’re typically trained or educated in.

I apologise, Matt, that I’ve expanded the frame of your question beyond mental health. But you do ask the most damn challenging and provoking questions.

P

On 4 Dec 2021, at 4:51 PM, Patrick Lambe <plambe@...> wrote:

Hi Matt

In my first response I wrote about mutual ignorance. I think there’s another issue we have to contend with, which is personal ignorance.

A couple of years ago, I attended the CILIP conference in the UK. One of the sessions was a panel session on discrimination against minorities (ethnic, gender, LBTQ+). Remember, CILIP is the professional society for librarians and information professionals in the UK, so we are sitting at the heart of an ethics-driven profession, at the heart of a supposedly liberal western democracy.

The whole panel consisted of the panellists telling their personal stories of the micro-aggressions they had to contend with in their professional lives, and how, what to their colleagues were simply good natured counsels "on how to fit in” came across as deliberate and identity-harming exertions of power. The panellists were all young, at quite early stages in their careers, so there were clearly power dynamics at work, and I was so impressed that they were brave enough to sit there in an auditorium full of people, many their seniors who might at some point look at their resumes, and reflect back to us how it feels not to be “normal”, and how it feels to be reminded daily of that, in the most well intentioned but destructive ways.

Now in a normal panel with rich content, I would look forward to lots of good questions from the audience, and some discussion to tease out fine points or implications from the session. That didn’t happen, there was applause, and the session ended. I wanted to go and speak to the panellists but I didn’t know what to say. It didn’t feel appropriate to offer an opinion and I wanted to digest what I’d heard. Besides the panellists had been swarmed by a bunch of participants, mostly white, middle aged men, as it turned out. So I left.

Afterwards, I found out that these were no fan boys. They had been counselling the panellists that it had not been a good idea to present a panel “that makes us feel guilty”. One panellist tweeted that he had been so upset he had to leave the venue and almost didn’t return. And I thought, “wow, those guys really didn’t get it” - they were acting out in precisely the same mode of behaviour as the panel had been describing. When we have spent years constructing and reinforcing a professional ego (and progressed in our careers by doing so) then self-awareness can go seriously awry. I realised that what I should have done is gone up to the panellists at the end and thanked them for their session. I assumed that it was only worth doing so if I had an opinion to express. Even a simple affirmation might have helped to counter the relentless pressure to squeeze back into the box of “normal”. Enough affirmations might help to counter the sense of isolation.

It is hard to be “not normal”. It takes courage to make that visible. One very simple thing we can do is to acknowledge and thank people for expressing their differences, and to remind ourselves to keep those differences in mind and ensure they are acknowledged and respected by our colleagues. Not everything can or should be “managed”. And we should cultivate the courage to represent our own differences and uphold them even when the sense of “normal” threatens them. 

Thanks Matt.

P


Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com


On 4 Dec 2021, at 7:26 AM, Matt Moore <matt@...> wrote:

Hi,


I want to raise the issue of mental health and KM.

When we work with knowledge we almost always work with people. My questions are:

- Can our work surface mental health issues (e.g. burn out) in those we work with? If so, how do we handle those? (given that most of us are not trained mental health professionals)

- How do we protect our own mental health in the work that we do? 

- I suspect there are trained mental health professionals on these lists so I welcome your input. But anyone is welcome to comment.


If people want to post anonymously then feel free to email me and I will forward on your behalf with all identifying info removed. I absolutely guarantee confidentiality. Altho please note, I am not a trained mental health professional.

Regards,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504


Stan Garfield
 
Edited

There is a parallel thread in KM4Dev.


 

I am feeling very hesitant to share my thoughts about this subject here because I feel there is a lot of nuance to how I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure I'll be successful in conveying that nuance in this written response - but I'll give it a shot.

At the beginning of consulting career I was fortunate to have a mentor while I was still in college who took on student leaders as interns for her organizational development consulting engagements. I was studying org psych and engineering at the time, so this was a great opportunity for me. Upon completion of my studies, after a couple of false starts at working, I ended up joining the boutique consulting firm that she started with her partner. The work we did was "process consulting", focused on changing the culture of large enterprises to be more inclusive and less autocratic. The engagements involved offsite gatherings of dozens of managers from our client for a few days of intense, highly facilitated meetings which our firm designed and delivered.

One of our firm's core values was that it was incumbent on each of us to keep ourselves healthy, and ask for what we needed to do so. As my mentor used to say, she didn't want to work out her issues on her clients (!!), which was a very real possibility due to the facilitated nature of these offsites. 

As a result, I ended up working with a psychotherapist that my mentor and others in our firm had been using. This psychotherapist and my experience working with her was fantastic. I uncovered a bunch of "junk" in my own closet that had been getting my way throughout my life up to that point. 

So do I think it's important to take care of oneself in whatever way makes sense, and take advantage of all available tools to do so? Absolutely. 

Do I think there's value in sharing this with work colleagues who otherwise have no need to know that I'm doing it? No, I do not. 

This is where the nuance part comes in. On the one hand, I think it's important for companies to make mental health resources available to their employees, and for the most part, I have not seen a company-sponsored health plan that did not include mental health and counseling services in the standard coverage options. I do think it's up to the individual to take responsibility for their own mental health. And perhaps it's up to managers to be good listeners, and upon hearing that an employee is going through a rough period, to ask them if they are aware of the available resources offered by the company. 

But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely. No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful. 

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts


Matt Moore
 

Hi,

Very interesting discussion. Many thanks to everyone who has
contributed. I am deliberately not contributing to the discussion on
microaggressions - because if I get stuck into it I may never get out.

I am however going to respond to some of Tom's comments - and I want
to thank Tom for giving me the opportunity to do so.

"But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the
mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're
availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or
unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating
out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last
decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely.
No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing
that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful."

So I think it is important that we frame "appropriate disclosure". And
let me relate it to my own experiences and decisions with bipolar
disorder. I was actually talking to a friend today who has severe
anxiety and who has made a similar set of disclosure decisions.

I do not start every meeting with "hey, it's bipolar dude here". 1.
It's rarely pertinent to the matter at hand and 2. I don't want to be
"bipolar guy" - there's so much more to me than that. However if
someone says "you seem to be highly energetic today" or "you seem to
be really down / quiet today" then I am going to share the cause of
that and move on. If they want to ask questions then I have no
reluctance to answer but neither do I expect people to be deeply
interested in my mental health.

There is a discourse around "bringing your whole self to work". Now I
don't believe we should bring our whole selves to work - in the same
way that we should not bring our naked bodies to work (unless we work
in specific industries). But if we are something more than
interchangeable Generic Business People (TM), then we will bring our
quirks and eccentricities. We will bring our strengths and our
weaknesses. And it will be messy.

There is a related point about leadership. As a leader and someone
with mental health issues, I feel it is a responsibility to model
appropriate disclosure and to respond openly when people disclose to
me. I am not willing to hide who I am nor will I ask others to do that
for my convenience. Because if we can disclose and discuss then we
have a better chance of managing.

With my anxious friend, he has discussed his anxiety with his boss. He
was concerned that his boss would think that he was flaky. His boss
said: "No, the fact that you can hold it together as well as you do
with everything going on inside is inspiring".

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 7:41 AM Tom Short <tshortconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:

I am feeling very hesitant to share my thoughts about this subject here because I feel there is a lot of nuance to how I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure I'll be successful in conveying that nuance in this written response - but I'll give it a shot.

At the beginning of consulting career I was fortunate to have a mentor while I was still in college who took on student leaders as interns for her organizational development consulting engagements. I was studying org psych and engineering at the time, so this was a great opportunity for me. Upon completion of my studies, after a couple of false starts at working, I ended up joining the boutique consulting firm that she started with her partner. The work we did was "process consulting", focused on changing the culture of large enterprises to be more inclusive and less autocratic. The engagements involved offsite gatherings of dozens of managers from our client for a few days of intense, highly facilitated meetings which our firm designed and delivered.

One of our firm's core values was that it was incumbent on each of us to keep ourselves healthy, and ask for what we needed to do so. As my mentor used to say, she didn't want to work out her issues on her clients (!!), which was a very real possibility due to the facilitated nature of these offsites.

As a result, I ended up working with a psychotherapist that my mentor and others in our firm had been using. This psychotherapist and my experience working with her was fantastic. I uncovered a bunch of "junk" in my own closet that had been getting my way throughout my life up to that point.

So do I think it's important to take care of oneself in whatever way makes sense, and take advantage of all available tools to do so? Absolutely.

Do I think there's value in sharing this with work colleagues who otherwise have no need to know that I'm doing it? No, I do not.

This is where the nuance part comes in. On the one hand, I think it's important for companies to make mental health resources available to their employees, and for the most part, I have not seen a company-sponsored health plan that did not include mental health and counseling services in the standard coverage options. I do think it's up to the individual to take responsibility for their own mental health. And perhaps it's up to managers to be good listeners, and upon hearing that an employee is going through a rough period, to ask them if they are aware of the available resources offered by the company.

But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely. No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful.

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts

--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au


Robert L. Bogue
 

Can you explain the distinction you're making about not bringing our whole selves to work? You provide an analogy then explain we should bring our quirks... I'm trying to better understand what you're saying.

-------------------
Robert L. Bogue
O: (317) 844-5310  M: (317) 506-4977 Blog: http://www.thorprojects.com/blog
Want to be confident about your change management efforts?  https://ConfidentChangeManagement.com
Are you burned out?  https://ExtinguishBurnout.com can help you get out of it (for free)

-----Original Message-----
From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt Moore via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 6:36 AM
To: main@sikm.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health #discussion-starter

Hi,

Very interesting discussion. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed. I am deliberately not contributing to the discussion on microaggressions - because if I get stuck into it I may never get out.

I am however going to respond to some of Tom's comments - and I want to thank Tom for giving me the opportunity to do so.

"But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely.
No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful."

So I think it is important that we frame "appropriate disclosure". And let me relate it to my own experiences and decisions with bipolar disorder. I was actually talking to a friend today who has severe anxiety and who has made a similar set of disclosure decisions.

I do not start every meeting with "hey, it's bipolar dude here". 1.
It's rarely pertinent to the matter at hand and 2. I don't want to be "bipolar guy" - there's so much more to me than that. However if someone says "you seem to be highly energetic today" or "you seem to be really down / quiet today" then I am going to share the cause of that and move on. If they want to ask questions then I have no reluctance to answer but neither do I expect people to be deeply interested in my mental health.

There is a discourse around "bringing your whole self to work". Now I don't believe we should bring our whole selves to work - in the same way that we should not bring our naked bodies to work (unless we work in specific industries). But if we are something more than interchangeable Generic Business People (TM), then we will bring our quirks and eccentricities. We will bring our strengths and our weaknesses. And it will be messy.

There is a related point about leadership. As a leader and someone with mental health issues, I feel it is a responsibility to model appropriate disclosure and to respond openly when people disclose to me. I am not willing to hide who I am nor will I ask others to do that for my convenience. Because if we can disclose and discuss then we have a better chance of managing.

With my anxious friend, he has discussed his anxiety with his boss. He was concerned that his boss would think that he was flaky. His boss
said: "No, the fact that you can hold it together as well as you do with everything going on inside is inspiring".

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 7:41 AM Tom Short <tshortconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:

I am feeling very hesitant to share my thoughts about this subject here because I feel there is a lot of nuance to how I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure I'll be successful in conveying that nuance in this written response - but I'll give it a shot.

At the beginning of consulting career I was fortunate to have a mentor while I was still in college who took on student leaders as interns for her organizational development consulting engagements. I was studying org psych and engineering at the time, so this was a great opportunity for me. Upon completion of my studies, after a couple of false starts at working, I ended up joining the boutique consulting firm that she started with her partner. The work we did was "process consulting", focused on changing the culture of large enterprises to be more inclusive and less autocratic. The engagements involved offsite gatherings of dozens of managers from our client for a few days of intense, highly facilitated meetings which our firm designed and delivered.

One of our firm's core values was that it was incumbent on each of us to keep ourselves healthy, and ask for what we needed to do so. As my mentor used to say, she didn't want to work out her issues on her clients (!!), which was a very real possibility due to the facilitated nature of these offsites.

As a result, I ended up working with a psychotherapist that my mentor and others in our firm had been using. This psychotherapist and my experience working with her was fantastic. I uncovered a bunch of "junk" in my own closet that had been getting my way throughout my life up to that point.

So do I think it's important to take care of oneself in whatever way makes sense, and take advantage of all available tools to do so? Absolutely.

Do I think there's value in sharing this with work colleagues who otherwise have no need to know that I'm doing it? No, I do not.

This is where the nuance part comes in. On the one hand, I think it's important for companies to make mental health resources available to their employees, and for the most part, I have not seen a company-sponsored health plan that did not include mental health and counseling services in the standard coverage options. I do think it's up to the individual to take responsibility for their own mental health. And perhaps it's up to managers to be good listeners, and upon hearing that an employee is going through a rough period, to ask them if they are aware of the available resources offered by the company.

But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely. No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful.

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts



--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au


Robert M. Taylor
 

Nowadays I find I hear the term 'mental health' used in different ways. Used to describe mental illness, sickness and conditions. Plus in recent years used to refer also to any kind of negative feelings - being stressed and so on. And I think the two are pretty different. That doesn't mean stress isn't important: Left to become strain it's a major killer.

I liked Nick's comment about the therapeutic effect of being listened to/heard; doing a retrospect and I think that's right; and it goes to the second kind of 'mental health' issues. As I think does what John noted about (my paraphrase) the frictions one encounters w/o KM.

And like Ninez and John I have the same experience, as leader of communities, of enabling the community mechanism for different groups concerned about various issues, some of which may have been mental health-related. It's not the first focus of KM but the mechanism we have in communities can contribute positively. That might go a bit more towards supporting mental illness, sickness and conditions.

So they're two obvious areas.

So now I question myself that, if "knowledge management" is conceived as a new kind of management better fit for the knowledge era, what then would be different about how it addresses mental health than the incumbent, orthodox management? I think it's this: The incumbent form of management is very 'external' in focus. It manages for the visible and material. It focuses on inputs, tasks, outputs and so on. A knowledge management should also address the 'internal' world which is personal as much as anything. We would recognise and accommodate the true nature of humans which is different to machines and processes.


Matt Moore
 

Robert B, thank you for the question.

"Can you explain the distinction you're making about not bringing our
whole selves to work? You provide an analogy then explain we should
bring our quirks... I'm trying to better understand what you're
saying."

I don't think we should bring our "whole selves" to work. I think that
exhortation is made by those who may have a poor understanding of what
the "whole self" is. I do not think full disclosure of one's condition
is wise. I do not think it is safe to disclose anything in some
environments - because it will be used against you.

"We want you to bring your whole selves to work"
"Thanks. Just to share something with the team, it wasn't until I
listened to Josh Wink's Higher States of Consciousness that I realised
that R2D2 was actually a radical lesbian"
"Not you, Matt, we want you to keep your whole self the **** away from us"

However I also think that old models of professionalism demanded that
we suppress anything of ourselves not explicitly authorised by the
organisation. I do not think this is healthy, productive or just. I
think that if you claim to want an organisation that is any of these
things then you have to change. As I stated before, you need to
discuss mental health issues to manage them effectively.

So I am arguing for appropriate disclosure. Which requires judgment.
And what is "appropriate" will vary from person to person,
organisation to organisation, and relationship to relationship. And
these definitions of "appropriate" will change over time as well as
across space. No wonder we all feel a bit uncomfortable.

It is only in the last few years that we have begun to discuss these
things openly. We are at the start of this process. When I grew up in
the 80s, I literally had no language to discuss any of this stuff -
and nor did my family. And these conditions are *incredibly* common -
with estimates of as high as 20% of the population having a
diagnosable condition at any one time (the validity of our current
diagnostic frameworks is a worthy topic of conversation but I'm not
going in to it here).

Does that make sense and answer the question? Or is there something
here that I am not explaining? (I genuinely want to articulate my
position as clearly as possible)

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 11:53 PM Robert L. Bogue <rbogue@thorprojects.com> wrote:

Can you explain the distinction you're making about not bringing our whole selves to work? You provide an analogy then explain we should bring our quirks... I'm trying to better understand what you're saying.

-------------------
Robert L. Bogue
O: (317) 844-5310 M: (317) 506-4977 Blog: http://www.thorprojects.com/blog
Want to be confident about your change management efforts? https://ConfidentChangeManagement.com
Are you burned out? https://ExtinguishBurnout.com can help you get out of it (for free)

-----Original Message-----
From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt Moore via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 6:36 AM
To: main@sikm.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health #discussion-starter

Hi,

Very interesting discussion. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed. I am deliberately not contributing to the discussion on microaggressions - because if I get stuck into it I may never get out.

I am however going to respond to some of Tom's comments - and I want to thank Tom for giving me the opportunity to do so.

"But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely.
No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful."

So I think it is important that we frame "appropriate disclosure". And let me relate it to my own experiences and decisions with bipolar disorder. I was actually talking to a friend today who has severe anxiety and who has made a similar set of disclosure decisions.

I do not start every meeting with "hey, it's bipolar dude here". 1.
It's rarely pertinent to the matter at hand and 2. I don't want to be "bipolar guy" - there's so much more to me than that. However if someone says "you seem to be highly energetic today" or "you seem to be really down / quiet today" then I am going to share the cause of that and move on. If they want to ask questions then I have no reluctance to answer but neither do I expect people to be deeply interested in my mental health.

There is a discourse around "bringing your whole self to work". Now I don't believe we should bring our whole selves to work - in the same way that we should not bring our naked bodies to work (unless we work in specific industries). But if we are something more than interchangeable Generic Business People (TM), then we will bring our quirks and eccentricities. We will bring our strengths and our weaknesses. And it will be messy.

There is a related point about leadership. As a leader and someone with mental health issues, I feel it is a responsibility to model appropriate disclosure and to respond openly when people disclose to me. I am not willing to hide who I am nor will I ask others to do that for my convenience. Because if we can disclose and discuss then we have a better chance of managing.

With my anxious friend, he has discussed his anxiety with his boss. He was concerned that his boss would think that he was flaky. His boss
said: "No, the fact that you can hold it together as well as you do with everything going on inside is inspiring".

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 7:41 AM Tom Short <tshortconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:

I am feeling very hesitant to share my thoughts about this subject here because I feel there is a lot of nuance to how I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure I'll be successful in conveying that nuance in this written response - but I'll give it a shot.

At the beginning of consulting career I was fortunate to have a mentor while I was still in college who took on student leaders as interns for her organizational development consulting engagements. I was studying org psych and engineering at the time, so this was a great opportunity for me. Upon completion of my studies, after a couple of false starts at working, I ended up joining the boutique consulting firm that she started with her partner. The work we did was "process consulting", focused on changing the culture of large enterprises to be more inclusive and less autocratic. The engagements involved offsite gatherings of dozens of managers from our client for a few days of intense, highly facilitated meetings which our firm designed and delivered.

One of our firm's core values was that it was incumbent on each of us to keep ourselves healthy, and ask for what we needed to do so. As my mentor used to say, she didn't want to work out her issues on her clients (!!), which was a very real possibility due to the facilitated nature of these offsites.

As a result, I ended up working with a psychotherapist that my mentor and others in our firm had been using. This psychotherapist and my experience working with her was fantastic. I uncovered a bunch of "junk" in my own closet that had been getting my way throughout my life up to that point.

So do I think it's important to take care of oneself in whatever way makes sense, and take advantage of all available tools to do so? Absolutely.

Do I think there's value in sharing this with work colleagues who otherwise have no need to know that I'm doing it? No, I do not.

This is where the nuance part comes in. On the one hand, I think it's important for companies to make mental health resources available to their employees, and for the most part, I have not seen a company-sponsored health plan that did not include mental health and counseling services in the standard coverage options. I do think it's up to the individual to take responsibility for their own mental health. And perhaps it's up to managers to be good listeners, and upon hearing that an employee is going through a rough period, to ask them if they are aware of the available resources offered by the company.

But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely. No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful.

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts



--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au









--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au


Robert L. Bogue
 

Totally makes sense. Thanks.

I think the key point you're making (check my understanding) is that many people bring your whole self to work is used as an excuse for over disclosure and that appropriate disclosure is key.

I agree. When we work with addicts we're careful to help them discover the line. You see, there's an often quoted quip "You're only as sick as your secrets" which implies you shouldn't have any. However, there's also over disclosure and verbal vomiting. While it can feel good at the time, it's harmful to the person who is doing it and sometimes to the person receiving it. Most frequently we ask people whether people have earned the right to know your truth. That seems to be helpful to some -- but obviously not all.

I think that whole self doesn't mean uncensored. It means that you're not too afraid to share the important things -- when the time is right. Of course, it's all judgement and will be wrong but the safety for that as well can be healthy.

You raise an important aspect about how to know what things others have earned the right to know (about your personal experience.) In the KM4Dev parallel discussion I disclosed that my son died by suicide. I did that with only two sentences of clarification. (He wasn't generally suicidal and he had lost a very close friend.) I did that because I felt safe enough to share. I know that some will think that I'm a bad father because only bad fathers have sons that kill themselves. (Which is untrue) However, I made the decision to share because the greater good was worth the disclosure. (As it is here.) I don't tell everyone that Alex died by suicide -- nor do I hide it. I just recognize that some people aren't worthy of the information -- or that they'll be harmed by it. It's hard decisions to make and ones that we all error on from time-to-time but the more we're willing to step (carefully) into the hard parts of our lives the more powerful we all collectively become.

Rob

-------------------
Robert L. Bogue
O: (317) 844-5310  M: (317) 506-4977 Blog: http://www.thorprojects.com/blog
Want to be confident about your change management efforts?  https://ConfidentChangeManagement.com
Are you burned out?  https://ExtinguishBurnout.com can help you get out of it (for free)

-----Original Message-----
From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt Moore via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 8:37 AM
To: main@SIKM.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health #discussion-starter

Robert B, thank you for the question.

"Can you explain the distinction you're making about not bringing our whole selves to work? You provide an analogy then explain we should bring our quirks... I'm trying to better understand what you're saying."

I don't think we should bring our "whole selves" to work. I think that exhortation is made by those who may have a poor understanding of what the "whole self" is. I do not think full disclosure of one's condition is wise. I do not think it is safe to disclose anything in some environments - because it will be used against you.

"We want you to bring your whole selves to work"
"Thanks. Just to share something with the team, it wasn't until I listened to Josh Wink's Higher States of Consciousness that I realised that R2D2 was actually a radical lesbian"
"Not you, Matt, we want you to keep your whole self the **** away from us"

However I also think that old models of professionalism demanded that we suppress anything of ourselves not explicitly authorised by the organisation. I do not think this is healthy, productive or just. I think that if you claim to want an organisation that is any of these things then you have to change. As I stated before, you need to discuss mental health issues to manage them effectively.

So I am arguing for appropriate disclosure. Which requires judgment.
And what is "appropriate" will vary from person to person, organisation to organisation, and relationship to relationship. And these definitions of "appropriate" will change over time as well as across space. No wonder we all feel a bit uncomfortable.

It is only in the last few years that we have begun to discuss these things openly. We are at the start of this process. When I grew up in the 80s, I literally had no language to discuss any of this stuff - and nor did my family. And these conditions are *incredibly* common - with estimates of as high as 20% of the population having a diagnosable condition at any one time (the validity of our current diagnostic frameworks is a worthy topic of conversation but I'm not going in to it here).

Does that make sense and answer the question? Or is there something here that I am not explaining? (I genuinely want to articulate my position as clearly as possible)

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 11:53 PM Robert L. Bogue <rbogue@thorprojects.com> wrote:

Can you explain the distinction you're making about not bringing our whole selves to work? You provide an analogy then explain we should bring our quirks... I'm trying to better understand what you're saying.

-------------------
Robert L. Bogue
O: (317) 844-5310 M: (317) 506-4977 Blog:
http://www.thorprojects.com/blog Want to be confident about your
change management efforts? https://ConfidentChangeManagement.com
Are you burned out? https://ExtinguishBurnout.com can help you get
out of it (for free)

-----Original Message-----
From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Matt
Moore via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 6:36 AM
To: main@sikm.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] KM and Mental Health #discussion-starter

Hi,

Very interesting discussion. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed. I am deliberately not contributing to the discussion on microaggressions - because if I get stuck into it I may never get out.

I am however going to respond to some of Tom's comments - and I want to thank Tom for giving me the opportunity to do so.

"But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely.
No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful."

So I think it is important that we frame "appropriate disclosure". And let me relate it to my own experiences and decisions with bipolar disorder. I was actually talking to a friend today who has severe anxiety and who has made a similar set of disclosure decisions.

I do not start every meeting with "hey, it's bipolar dude here". 1.
It's rarely pertinent to the matter at hand and 2. I don't want to be "bipolar guy" - there's so much more to me than that. However if someone says "you seem to be highly energetic today" or "you seem to be really down / quiet today" then I am going to share the cause of that and move on. If they want to ask questions then I have no reluctance to answer but neither do I expect people to be deeply interested in my mental health.

There is a discourse around "bringing your whole self to work". Now I don't believe we should bring our whole selves to work - in the same way that we should not bring our naked bodies to work (unless we work in specific industries). But if we are something more than interchangeable Generic Business People (TM), then we will bring our quirks and eccentricities. We will bring our strengths and our weaknesses. And it will be messy.

There is a related point about leadership. As a leader and someone with mental health issues, I feel it is a responsibility to model appropriate disclosure and to respond openly when people disclose to me. I am not willing to hide who I am nor will I ask others to do that for my convenience. Because if we can disclose and discuss then we have a better chance of managing.

With my anxious friend, he has discussed his anxiety with his boss. He
was concerned that his boss would think that he was flaky. His boss
said: "No, the fact that you can hold it together as well as you do with everything going on inside is inspiring".

Regards,

Matt

On Tue, Dec 7, 2021 at 7:41 AM Tom Short <tshortconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:

I am feeling very hesitant to share my thoughts about this subject here because I feel there is a lot of nuance to how I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure I'll be successful in conveying that nuance in this written response - but I'll give it a shot.

At the beginning of consulting career I was fortunate to have a mentor while I was still in college who took on student leaders as interns for her organizational development consulting engagements. I was studying org psych and engineering at the time, so this was a great opportunity for me. Upon completion of my studies, after a couple of false starts at working, I ended up joining the boutique consulting firm that she started with her partner. The work we did was "process consulting", focused on changing the culture of large enterprises to be more inclusive and less autocratic. The engagements involved offsite gatherings of dozens of managers from our client for a few days of intense, highly facilitated meetings which our firm designed and delivered.

One of our firm's core values was that it was incumbent on each of us to keep ourselves healthy, and ask for what we needed to do so. As my mentor used to say, she didn't want to work out her issues on her clients (!!), which was a very real possibility due to the facilitated nature of these offsites.

As a result, I ended up working with a psychotherapist that my mentor and others in our firm had been using. This psychotherapist and my experience working with her was fantastic. I uncovered a bunch of "junk" in my own closet that had been getting my way throughout my life up to that point.

So do I think it's important to take care of oneself in whatever way makes sense, and take advantage of all available tools to do so? Absolutely.

Do I think there's value in sharing this with work colleagues who otherwise have no need to know that I'm doing it? No, I do not.

This is where the nuance part comes in. On the one hand, I think it's important for companies to make mental health resources available to their employees, and for the most part, I have not seen a company-sponsored health plan that did not include mental health and counseling services in the standard coverage options. I do think it's up to the individual to take responsibility for their own mental health. And perhaps it's up to managers to be good listeners, and upon hearing that an employee is going through a rough period, to ask them if they are aware of the available resources offered by the company.

But as for volunteering that information in the workplace - the mental health issues they're experiencing, or the resources they're availing themselves of - it feels to me somehow inappropriate or unprofessional in a work setting. I accept that maybe I'm operating out of an old paradigm and things have changed a lot in the last decade. So is taking care of one's mental health critical? Absolutely. No doubt about it. I'm just not sure about the degree to which sharing that around the workplace is necessary or particularly helpful.

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts



--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au










--
Matt Moore
M. +61 (0) 423 784 504
matt@innotecture.com.au