Stop Mentioning the 'C' Word

9 Tips To Stay Sane and Get Through 2022
As a lover of the TV Show FRIENDS, I thought this mug was priceless and worth sharing, especially I was hoping I'd be writing my first blog of 2022 with a lot more clarity about what lies ahead.

Yet instead, I've come back to work with more feelings of 'Groundhog Day' than I'd like and without the energy and spark I normally have to start the year.

The good thing is.... I'm not alone!
Just about everyone is feeling flat and overwhelmed rather than re-energised as they come back to work, simply because of the toll the last few years have taken on all of us.

Based on discussions I've had with RTOs and within the small business forums I'm part of, it's clear 2022 will probably be a bit harder to get through as we continue to navigate through this brave new world of ours.

So rather than stick our head in the sand and say it's all too hard (which isn't the answer), I want to provide you with some simple tips to help you and your team stay sane and get through 2022.
FOCUS:  Build A Great RTO Business

It's very apparent the world has changed and we won't be going back to the way of work or life, as it was back in 2019. So we need to accept and embrace the inevitable because waiting for things to 'get better and go back to normal' is no longer a choice... and your business won't survive if you remain on this pathway.

COVID is here to stay and WILL continue to negatively impact our work and lives – to what degree is unknown.
So let's stop talking about it and using the word because it's only negatively impacting on our mental health and wellbeing which in turn decreases the profitability, productivity and performance of you, your team and your business.

My fun suggestion is to change the conversation just like we did with WHS accidents. Start recording on your whiteboards how many times someone mentions the word, with the target being a 'No C Word' Day and then how many days in a row can you go without mentioning it.

I'd love to hear how many days you get without a breach 😊.

This is probably the first time when a change has impacted every single part of our lives... not just our work but our sport, lifestyle, family, friends, travel etc.

Most people don't like change and yet for over two years now, we've been asked to quickly embrace a change we didn't ask for nor could be predicted. And it's gone off for longer than we ever expected...and it still happening.

Result: We are all feeling exhausted... mentally and physically, and this is why the energy of most of us is quite low for a new year. We haven't come back to work re-energised and raring to go.

Instead, we've come back overwhelmed by everything which has to be done moving forward and caught up on because it didn't get done in 2021; and feeling like 'why bother?'.

So as RTO CEOs and Managers, you need to understand and embrace this reality rather than push your team when they're already feeling like everyone is piling on and everything is out of control.

Now is the time for more understanding, support and encouragement about what actually can be achieved when people are feeling drained, rather than persisting with high and unrealistic targets. If you choose to do the latter, you're just adding undue pressure and it may be the tipping point to push people out the door. In this time of 'The Great Resignation', you need to be doing everything you reasonable can to keep your team happy.

Whether we like it not, the last few years have sped up what should have logically happened years ago.

We should've been having meetings with lawyers, accountants and some of our clients/students over Zoom rather than spending hours in a car to travel to them.

And working from home or remotely could have been a choice rather than the only option in a crisis.

This means everything has changed including our customers' expectation about what they want and more importantly, what they don't. And it's not only your students' expectations, it's your staff as well.

The pandemic has also shone a light on the many broken business models which were hanging by a thread, and exposed the many flaws which were often ignored and negatively impacting on the productivity, profitability and performance of the business.

So now is the time for to rethink everything in your business model to see what works and what doesn't. It's time to bunker down and develop the systems, products and services which will not only meet the changed needs of your new customers; but also cope in an open/shut environment so you can ensure, as much as possible, the future viability of your RTO business.

As we struggle with overwhelm, we again need to simplify and streamline not only what we do but how we do it.

This includes looking at our product offerings (training) and see whether it's still not only relevant for what our customers want, but also profitable.

This is the time to take things off your scope of registration rather than adding dozens of qualifications you 'think' students want.

Choice complicates the sale so the more options you give students, the less chance you have of getting the enrolment.

The more training you have on scope also means more maintenance and updates when Training Packages change, and the less chance of people coming to you for the specialised training you actually offer – whether that speciality is industry or location specific.

In 2022, you should be saying NO more than you're saying YES. Not only will it change your productivity and focus for the better, but the mental health and wellbeing of you and your team will thank you.

I know it's possibly difficult at the moment to know what to focus on or even how you'll achieve your 2022 Business Plan.

But we know clarity is the key to gaining momentum because it gives us the energy to keep going when we'd prefer to procrastinate or pull up the covers.

Staff are looking to their leaders for this clarity so if you aren't sure of the pathway to move forward, it's hard for them to follow.

I believe it's important to be honest with staff and tell them things like, 'I believe this year will be challenging and whilst I have a plan, I'm expecting it will change a few times so I don't have all the answers at the moment. But we'll work through things together and keep reassessing things as we go. If you some help or support with this, just come and talk to me about it and I'll do my best.'

Following on from Tip 5, it's important not add to the overwhelm so I'd be talking to staff about targets and priorities for each quarter (90 days), and then breaking it down to this month, this week and today.
If you're not sure what that might even look like, simply start by getting all of the tasks out of your head and on to some butchers paper.

By having this visual of the chaos, you can start to put common tasks together and then the themes and priorities will start to jump out so you can more easily decide what's important for today, tomorrow, this week and this month.

Once you've done this activity, help your staff do this as well so they feel like they're actually getting things done and that much needed sense of achievement rather than more and more being added to an already overwhelming Catch Up and To Do List.

This may be the most obvious tip but now more than ever, we need to be going back to our current, past and potential customers (students and employers) and actually asking them what training they actually want and how they want it delivered.

We know people are struggling to see how to get through today, tomorrow and this month so now is probably not the time to be marketing full qualifications which will take 1-2 years to complete because that seems too far away and too hard.
Instead, meet the customer where they are right now; not where you want them to be.

Short sharp training, be it a few units of competency, a skill set or some professional development (non-accredited) will probably be better options because people can try something new to see if it's for them or get refresher training to help them do their job... without adding to their overwhelm.

Remember: It's about them, not about what works for you!

I believe everyone in your RTO should be working in their Sweet Spot at least 80% of every single day.

If they're doing this, then they can cope more easily with the 20% of tasks in their role which don't light them up.

So Tip 7 also applies to your staff. Instead for example assuming every trainer likes the delivery side of the role, ask them.
You'll probably be surprised when at least one of them says 'well if I had a choice, I'd much prefer to write the training and assessment materials and provide technical support to students than be in the room because I've done that for X years and I'm looking for a change'.

And not only does this apply to someone's tasks but the work environment. Insisting everyone must be in the workplace 5 days a week may still be working for you now, but down the track, this mindset will limit how many people want to come and work at your RTO.

I've mentioned already about the Great Resignation – this is absolutely the time to ask staff what they're happy with and what they'd like to see changed... in their roles, in your leadership style, in the team and how the business operates.

Now I'm not saying you have to say Yes to everything, but if you ASSUME rather than ASK, we know what that really turns out to mean.

For many RTOs, the last 2 years has been financially bleak and 2022 may be initially looking that as well.

In order to survive and then be ready to thrive when the opportunities start to present themselves and things turn for the better, you need to be investing in the help you, your team and your business needs so you are ready to go gangbusters.

If you don't, you'll be left behind.

So what professional development, training, advice, coaching, mentoring etc do you and your team need to not only do the technical specifics of their role but also the 'soft skills'.

What pieces are missing in your leadership and management of the business side of the RTO including sales, marketing, business development, finance, systems and HR?

Questions you may like to ask yourself and your team include:
• Do you have an abundance or competitive mindset?
• Are you willing to learn from others?
• Are you coachable?
• Can you see the recurring problems and know how to solve them?
• Can you see the hidden opportunities?

Saying 'you're too busy to do these things', 'I don't have the money', 'I don't need help' will unfortunately mean you'll also be left behind because success comes through the support and learning the lessons of someone who has been there, done that.

And besides, why re-invent the wheel and keep making the same mistakes when investing in help can shortcut this time and effort considerably?

What's Next?
This is a time for support and understanding which means self-care should be at the forefront of how you lead and run your RTO.

A time to be kinder to yourself and your team.
A time to take things slower – it's a marathon, not a sprint.
A time to embrace the opportunities which are there now and those which will soon come.
A time to change the conversation and language surrounding you, your team and your workplace.
A time to stop listening to the negativity coming out of the government and media.
So I'm wondering which tip or tips resonate the most with you and your team?
What are the 3 actions you need to take now so you and your team can stay sane and get through 2022?

And here's my final thought:

Let me leave with this quote from Mario Andretti which I believe sums up my blog and where we're at in 2022.

Circumstances may cause delays or interruptions, but never lose sight of the goal.

Prepare yourself in every way you can by increasing your knowledge and adding to your experience so that you can make the most of the opportunity when it comes.

P.S. If you're looking for Professional Development which isn't about compliance, then please head to my website to check out my recorded webinars, my RTO GROW Program and my RTO Business Club.
Helping RTOs Build Great Businesses Everyone Actually Loves
Author: Tamara Simon

Tamara Simon is Australia's Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach who's driven to making your RTO life easier.

For over twenty years, she's been helping timepoor RTO Owners, CEOs and Managers get out of OVERWHELM so they can

- Get back in control and on track

- Grow their business... simply

- Reignite their passion for training

Find out more about Tamara Simon, her RTO Business Club, her RTO GROW Training Program and how she can take your RTO from Overwhelmed to Optimised here:

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