Identify your blockages to avoid ‘unblocking’ at work

by | Nov 24, 2019 | Publication

Why do we talk so little about blockages at work? Do a quick search on ”work blockages” and you won’t find much on your favourite search engine. Yet these are the things that hold us back in our career development, spoil our relationships with colleagues and, more importantly, hinder the business of the company. 

We are beings gifted with emotions

The notion of “blockage” comes from the world of psychology to designate an internal conflict: a part of us wants to move forward but the other is holding us back. The blockage freezes us in a frustrating situation and causes a discomfort that we cannot get rid of.

The blockage and the associated emotions are therefore repressed. But to talk about emotions at work, and even more so about repressed emotions, seems to be a heresy in the professional context !

Yet your emotions don’t “pause” when you walk into your office. Ignoring them is like ignoring the “elephant in the room”

A major issue in HR management

HR looks at managers from the perspective of potential in terms of hard skills and soft skills. A good manager will be able to excel in his or her expertise, take decisions, involve his or her team and carry out his or her actions successfully.

However, the manager is not just a potential to be exploited: he or she is above all an individual with values. And when these values are undermined, they are overwhelmed by negative emotions and their motivation does not follow ! The manager can fall into a nihilistic void (“what is the point of all this ?”), frustration (“I’m wasting my time”, “my skills are under-used”), unease (“I’m stuck”, “I feel drowned”), a loss of control (“I have no control over anything”, “everything is beyond my control”) and finally a depreciation of himself (“I’m worth nothing !”).

This is a major issue for HR, as a demotivated employee can “sink” a team or create tensions, even generate conflicts. Or they may over-invest themselves and be exhausted, which can lead to burn-outs. Or, finally, he or she will not make the slightest impression but will leave the company, which raises the question of the talent drain.

Don’t say to yourself, I’ll “unblock” but I am blocked !

Being caught in a blockage exhausts the manager who cannot admit weakness in a world where his hierarchy expects him to deliver and his team and peers expect him to inspire. The manager will tend to feel guilty and search for what could “unblock” him.

This exhaustion leads to all sorts of behaviours such as stress, loss of self-confidence, poor time management, lack of efficiency or even conflicts with their boss or team. These behaviours are symptoms of repressed or poorly managed blockages.

There are countless training courses to deal with the symptoms. You are led to believe that you are not up to speed, that you are “unblocking” … You are then given the “recipe” to be more efficient at work, the recipe to manage your stress, or the recipe to develop your leadership posture.

But these “recipes” can only “work” for a short time because they do not provide a true diagnosis: what is your blockage ? How did you come to develop it ?

A few concrete examples (*)

First example : Manager A

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Manager A is seen as very confident. Yet, internally, he does not feel legitimate. I call this inner conflict the “Imposter’s blockage”.

Manager A’s boss (who has sensed this duality) will act on it by blowing hot and cold (“praising him and then nitpicking on small details”).

Manager A’s insecurity will lead him to over-invest and burn out, especially if his efforts are not recognised, sometimes resulting in burn-out.

Possible course of action:

Working with Manager A on how to value his achievements and establish his legitimacy will have a much more powerful impact than giving him training on time management (which the manager may feel is a way of telling him that he is not managing his priorities well).

Second example : Manager B 

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Manager B criticises his boss for not taking decisions. He has provided him with all the necessary elements for decision-making, but nothing is moving and this is stressing him out: he wants results! I call this tension ‘vigilante blockage’.

Manager B’s boss finds it comfortable to be able to rely on someone competent. However, Manager B does not feel valued in the organisation and will probably rarely be promoted to the level he expects.

Possible course of action:

Working with Manager B on not imposing his expertise, but on having it naturally solicited, will be much more interesting than working on his stress management (which the manager might feel is a way of telling him that he is not managing his emotions well).

(*) These examples are fictitious and are based on a combination of cases I have encountered

Blockages, the 7 dwarfs that prevent you from making giant steps in your career.

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I have shown you two examples of blockages, but I have identified 5 others. I call these 7 blockages the 7 “dwarfs”, because although they impact your activity or career development, they are in the end only small blockages that you can identify and overcome.

Human nature being complex, we often combine several blockages which are expressed differently depending on our professional context. Moreover, our blockages are often perceptible and unconsciously “captured” by those around us who can manipulate or even abuse them. This explains why we may have a blockage in one environment and not in another. Or that we may have a blockage in reaction to someone (who will certainly have their own blockage to deal with) and have a dysfunctional relationship with them.

Based on this analysis, my training course “Managers, identify and overcome your blockages at work! “will help you to unlock your blockages rather than having the impression that you are unlocking at work.

Understanding your blocks will ultimately allow you to refocus on your core motivations and connect with your values. Through this work, you will have the basics to unblock and even anticipate blocking situations in the work environment.

Practical Information

The training is based on methodological modules in video format that you can watch at your leisure, as well as on group sessions in video-conference, allowing you to exchange with other participants confidentially. Sharing with other participants in the group will help you to understand your own blockages in a caring dynamic. Schedules are arranged with the group, which will consist of no more than 8 people.

Here is what “V”, an HR executive who participated at the last session, says: “This group training helped me to put my blockages into perspective but also to change my view of the blockages of others by listening to the other participants and their backgrounds. Luz’s approach, based on neuroscience, taught me how to decipher certain mechanisms and gave me a methodology that I can now use to find solutions:

Ready to identify those 7 dwarfs that are holding you back ?