“It gives the board and it gives us, as Demolish the Wall, the facts to actually then go and make a positive impact, and go right, we have a problem here.”
The 2nd of 3 episodes talking with special guest Marc Caulfield, CEO & Co-Founder of Demolish the Wall, TEDx Speaker, Role Model 2020 InsideOut Leaderboard & Ambassador at The Youth Group.
Part 2 of #TruthsayersNeurocast with Marc, talking about how leaders need to be brave and probe below the surface before it’s too late. Marc talks about the value he has witnessed in using Truthsayers® StressAssess® with his clients – it’s the ideal tool to enable these kind of brave conversations to start happening.
After 28 years in advertising and struggling with his own mental health, Marc decided to make creating healthy workplaces his mission in work. Demolish the Wall was born to help organisations create environments and cultures which look after their people’s mental well-being, where everybody’s voice can be heard and they can reach their full potential.
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Cheryl Stapleton: Tell me a bit more about what your goals are with Demolish the Wall
Marc Caulfield: Our mission in a very broad sense is to normalise mental health within the workplace. In fact, back in the Health and Safety Act of 1974, it states very clearly that you can’t treat mental health differently to physical health. But I think if we’re really honest with ourselves – anyone who’s managed people – if they’re really honest with themselves and you have a conversation with someone that goes, “I’m not coming in today because I’m feeling unwell, or I’ve got a cold,” or whatever it happens to be, generally you go, “OK, fine. Alright, see you tomorrow.” I ask people in the workshops and talks that we do, just honestly ask yourself now for a second, if that same person phoned you and said, “I was on the tube this morning and I had a panic attack” or “I’ve got myself into such a state about that presentation you asked me to do” or “I’ve just been diagnosed with depression” most people will admit that they would view that person slightly differently. They will take possibly positive views but sometimes, if you ask them the question then of, “If you were about to give them a pay rise or were about to promote them, how would you feel about them admitting they were struggling?” Most people, if they were honest, would be nervous about that and that’s wrong. Morally, ethically and legally.
So, our mission in life is to really get that conversation normalised and for people to get to a point where they know they can put their hand up and they can say to their manager, “I’m struggling” without fear that they’re going to lose their job, miss out on pay rises or just be managed out of the business in the worst case scenario – which does happen.
CS: These are difficult conversations to have and starting these conversations is the challenge, particularly in this set up where some people are working remotely and you can’t pick up on those small signals that somebody’s not holding it together. Thinking about our Neurotech, how is that going to help in terms of what you can offer to your clients in order for you to meet your personal goals?
MC: What I want to is get to the point where we have a piece of tech that we work with and that we partner with, that can get to the truth. We’re not talking about being able to point the finger at people, we’re about trying to understand culture in a business, so if you look at a business and you go “well, hold on a second”, what people are telling you and what they are actually doing during the Stress Assess questionnaire – what they’re actually coming out with there is a disparity between what they say and what they actually mean. Now that’s an issue.
That means there might be a cultural issue there or it might be by department or it might be by manager or it might be by location. But it gives senior management, it gives the board and it gives us, as Demolish the Wall, the facts to actually then go and make a positive impact, and go right, we have a problem here. Now that problem may not be an individual thing, it may be a process thing, it may be a cultural thing, but it needs to be addressed. What you can’t have is people who are too scared to tell you the truth, because you’re never going to get anywhere if that is the case.
What we’ve also found and which I think is interesting here is that all of our best work and all of our clients, have always been where you have a senior manager or a board level person who is willing to put their hand up and go, “You know what? I’m not always in a great place, I’ve struggled.”
The best piece of work we ever did was where we were doing a workshop, people were quite closed in this meeting – you could tell people were quite guarded – and the CEO, after about half an hour, put his hand up and said, “Can I just have a quick 5 minutes?” and he proceeded to tell people that he had been seeing a therapist for the last five years and was one fairly strong medication for depression and all of a sudden, you could see people go, “Oh, wow. So if you do that, and you’re the CEO and we all think you’re great, then actually, it’s ok.”
It’s normalising those conversations, it’s making those conversations make people feel, if I put my hand up, I’m not going to ruin my career and that’s the most important thing. Lots of physical injuries – you talk about the guy who comes in on a Monday morning, who’s got a black eye because he’s been playing rugby, it’s almost like a legendary thing – you’re so cool. But the same thing but where someone’s struggling with a mental health condition, people panic and don’t know what to say and don’t want to talk to them and that’s just wrong. It’s just not right in any way you want to look at it – morally, ethically, legally – and it needs to change.
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I’m Head of Content at Truthsayers®, driving research & development internally, leading education and brand engagement externally.