Jo van der Walle, Author at Rise and Shine Group

All posts by Jo van der Walle

‘Return to the office’ – TIPS

How to set your team up for success transitioning back to the office

Finally, teams are coming together after months of flexible working from home. Readjusting can be tricky, with emotions running high and it’s natural for you as a leader to be feeling the same.  

Elevated stress levels can impede performance on tasks that require divided attention, working memory, retrieval of information and decision making, it also impacts our relationships and wellbeing. Now’s the perfect time to consider how best to support your people through this huge transition and set a new way forward. 

A recent ‘return to work’ survey by PwC found that most office workers (83%) want to work from home at least one day a week, and half of employers (55%) anticipate that most of their workers will do so long after COVID-19 is not a concern. While those percentages might vary in your team it’s probably safe to say many won’t be cheering about returning back to the office.

The office isn’t obsolete yet, but it is changing. While the COVID-19 crisis showed that staff can interact well when apart, people still want to engage with colleagues in person. It’s why 50% go into the office. Employees will not be returning to the same office they left behind. Everyone will need to find new ways to connect and collaborate

 In this article we will share three strategies to support you as a lead to ease through the transition: 

1.  Listen  

Listen to your team’s disappointments and concerns with empathy. Acknowledge how they are feeling. Never state ‘sorry but this is outside of my control’ rather explain the companies reasoning behind the policies and show your support. Keep these messages consistent and confidently lead the way forward.  

2.  Be proactive with your communication

          While stress and anxiety around the future is still very worrisome for many it is important you are proactive in alerting people to any further changes you hear about. Let them know you will keep them informed and build trust.

 3.  Bring the team together – design a new and improved culture (everyone wants to be part of)

        We highly recommend bringing the team together for a team building session or an ‘away day’ to reconnect, reset and design their ideal emotional culture going forward. As Ron Carucci, co-founder at Navalen puts it ‘“One of the best ways to ease any angst your team might be feeling is to create a sense of lightheartedness for them. There are unquestionably things that people miss about being in the office: rituals your team enjoyed, celebrations that were suspended, opportunities to be off camera and feel less isolated, lets bring them back into focus.  A PwC survey from June 2020 revealed that 50% of employees felt that collaboration and relationship building were better in person so create some space in your diary and your unlikely to regret it”.

Join forward-thinking Kiwi businesses such as Air NZ, Westpac, NZ Rugby, XERO and even Netflix who all understand that emotional culture is as vital as a company’s intellectual and values and are currently putting their teams through the “Map My Emotional Culture” workshop. 

Let’s face it; Kiwis aren’t great at discussing emotions — and many companies don’t even care how their employees are feeling. So long as they’re getting the work done, why worry?  

Those companies are well behind the times.  

As this HBR article explains, emotional culture influences employee satisfaction, burnout, teamwork, and even hard measures such as financial performance and absenteeism.  

Now is the perfect time to get your team together to design your team culture going forward, almost like a team pact it highlights the expectations, actions and behaviours that align with your team’s desired emotions to support success.

To facilitate this workshop we use the acclaimed Emotional Culture Deck, a simple and flexible card game toolkit that facilitates transformative face-to-face conversations. 

Do the Mahi and watch as your team transition with ease, designing a better future, increasing satisfaction and fulfilment — improving customer relations and engagement and increasing profits What can you do today to guide your team back to a new and improve ‘return’

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Flat Tyre image

Important vs essential: A guide to making time for you

Take a minute to consider these questions:

  • Are you responsible for the amount of energy you have to ‘spend’ each day?
  • Are you responsible for bringing value to your organisation?
  • Are you responsible for the quality of your relationships with your workmates, friends and family?

If you answered ‘yes’ to some or all of the above, congratulations – you’re well on your way to taking a self-leadership approach to life!

It’s easy to sit back and convince yourself that life’s so busy you can’t fit ‘yourself’ in; it’s easy to find someone or something else to blame. It’s also a sure-fire route to feeling out of control and maybe even becoming burned out. On the other side of the coin, self-leaders take responsibility for their behaviour and the results they experience every day and in life. They understand that they are where they are today because of the actions they took yesterday.

So, what do self-leaders do exactly?

They have just as much going on as the rest of us, but they also know that without prioritising time to recharge themselves, they can’t keep their energy levels up, bring real value to their work, feel calm and contented and make time for the important people in their lives.

As a self-leadership advocate and motivational speaker, I’m quick to notice when making time to recharge had begun to take a backseat in my life, and swiftly create a plan to put it first. I know too well that putting it ‘second’ can lead to disappearing off the radar entirely.

Sound a little idealistic? It all comes down to one powerful question that we could all really benefit from asking ourselves more often: What can I do about this?

Like everyone else, my partner and I have a lot of important priorities, including managing our own businesses, renovating our home and running a miniature farm (think four unruly alpacas and 10 silly sheep). Recently I realised we’d gradually started to put these important priorities ahead of our essential ones. Downtime is essential for us (and you!) because without it, our important tasks don’t get done to the best of our abilities.

If you’re exhausted and chasing your tail all day, it’s likely you’re not delivering your best either. Like us, you might find yourself with limited energy or excitement to share with your children or loved ones at the end of the day. But how do we motivate ourselves to squeeze in satisfying, healthy downtime (as opposed to crashing in front of the TV with a glass of wine night after night) when we already don’t have enough other time?

I believe we need to consider four key things:

1. Make your downtime fun. Schedule in something you really enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like another task to tick off your to-do list. Adding activities we genuinely connect with adds value to our lives.

2. Take the ‘It’s the way we do things around here’ approach and make it something that you could happily make a habit of.

3. Be realistic. Activities you need to drive across town in traffic to get to, or that require you to kill time after work before they start are not going to be realistic to maintain. Choose an activity that doesn’t add extra stress, or enlist the company of a friend to help hold you to it.

4. Take a balanced, whole-person approach to self-leadership. To recharge ourselves and operate to our full capacity, we need to consider four dimensions : the physical, mental, emotional and internal. These are interconnected and equally important ingredients for a happy, fulfilling life.

Here’s what my partner and I came up with:

* Monday is now Mindfulness Monday. This might include listening to a guided session on YouTube, Spotify or Headspace, or simple making an effort to be mindful throughout the day (try it on your walk to work or while you’re eating lunch).

* Tuesday is TED Talk Tuesday, on which we’ll make an effort to learn about something completely new – no matter how small.

* Wednesday is Workout Wednesday.

* Thursday is Thoughtful Thursday when we’ll focus on the significant relationships in our lives and doing something special with or for family or friends.

* Friday is Fitness Friday.

* On Pick Up The Slack Saturdays we’ll reserve some time to get on top of those important priorities if necessary.

* And Sunday is Special Time Sunday, aka dedicated, uninterrupted, as-device-free-as-possible family time – just us and our one-and-a-half-year-old.

Every night before we go to sleep, we decide how and when we’re going to fit in our essentials. Each activity requires less than an hour to complete, so it’s not hard to do, yet the rewards are huge.

Waking up feeling energised, motivated, calm and contented doesn’t just happen by chance. People who experience these feelings have made self-leadership habits part of their life – they’ve become a way of life. I encourage you to come up with your own ways to make wellness an essential priority and build your important proprieties around it. When you do – nothing will stand in your way.

Is your team regularly taking steps to develop their self leadership abilities?

If you and your organisation could do with a little self leadership inspiration or motivation please get in touch with us. We specialise in corporate self leadership.


Take a minute to consider these questions – are you responsible for the amount of energy you have to ‘spend’ each day? are you responsible for bringing value to your organisation?

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How to become a corporate vampire slayer

Do you spend your workdays surrounded by energy vampires who suck the life right out of the room? I’m a firm believer that “Like attracts like”, which means there’s something you can do about it!

Once upon a time, I was a member of a small team. We were kind, hard-working, talented people, but there was a pervading sense of negativity. Every week we’d meet with the directors of the business, and afterwards the moaning would begin: “Did you hear them say that?”; “They never take our suggestions on board”... All it took was for one person to say something unconstructive and it’d spiral out of control. The energy in our team was pretty low.

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No better feeling than 110% content

How many times a week do you find yourself saying, “I want this”, “I need that”? How frequently do you compare your life to someone else’s – what they have and what you don’t? How often do you think, ‘If only this would happen, I‘d be happy’?

In a world where we can purchase anything in an instant, we don’t even have to ponder our wants like we used to. The other night I decided on a whim that I’d quite like a blackboard calendar for my kitchen wall, and within 30 minutes one was heading my way.

The convenience of ‘getting’ makes me wonder: is the frightening ease of wanting and then having stopping us from striving and appreciating the now? And do we really need everything we think we do? Are we failing to appreciate what’s around us because we’re always looking to the next big thing? There must be a way to be content with what we have.

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Can you list your top 10 values?

Have you ever wondered what it is that influences the decisions you make? Where your gut feelings come from and why certain things others do cause you such confusion?

I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers asked the audience who could name their top 10 values. Only a very small handful of women held up their hands. As a coach and wellness facilitator I wasn’t too surprised by this small number and again wondered to myself “how do people manage their lives effectively without knowing these?”

If someone asked you this question - would you be able to list your TOP 10?

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Are businesses responsible for staff health and wellness?

This is a summary of a Twitter discussion on #NZLEAD with HR, OD and Learning & Development professionals around the world.

The truth is, the world is changing. Life it is more complex, stressful, demanding, and the rate of change is like never before. We have targets and KPI’s aligned to increases and bonuses. Sometimes just working hard isn’t enough. With the rate of change and the globalisation of markets we now must not only be educated in our subject, but also be constantly re-educating ourselves and keeping up with the world around us.

With all of this new pressure placed on employees, we started the tweet chat by asking the question;

How responsible are businesses ultimately for the health and wellness of their people?

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Setting up an integrated, balanced wellness programme

I recently facilitated a Twitter conversation through NZLEAD to better understand workplace wellness. NZLEAD is a digitally based community that invites participation from hundreds of OD, H&S, L&D, and HR professionals from all around the world.

It began with this question:

What health and wellness initiatives are currently being offered by your organisation?

The response was overwhelming, and some of the initiatives included:
•Reduced health insurance
•An onsite gym and company sports teams
•Onsite yoga and pilates
•Cycle promotion
•Walking groups
•Healthy recipes
•Volunteering and health screening
•Standing or walking meetings
•Eye tests
•Fly jabs
•Health checks

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Why the way we’re working isn’t working!

Burnout, depression and anxiety are affecting more of us everyday.

What is causing this?

Burnout, depression and anxiety are affecting more of us everyday.
What is causing this?

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