‘BEHIND THE MASK’ OF A HIGH PERFORMER IN THE WORKPLACE
I won Directors Choice award at a corporate sales summit, celebrated with colleagues, passed out in my hotel room, and slept through the hotel fire alarm.
The ‘Directors Choice’ award is meant for the high performer, leader, trailblazer, and person who is committed to excellence. I met those criteria and was honored to receive the award.
While celebrating with colleagues, I had a few too many drinks and have no recollection of getting back to my hotel room. The following day, I learned there was a fire alarm during the overnight hours and the entire hotel had been evacuated. I never evacuated because I was passed out in my room. I also learned of my funny behavior and antics I did the night before.
Outwardly, I laughed with my coworkers. Inwardly, I felt ashamed, guilty, afraid, and like an imposter.
I have been a high performer in the workplace my entire career.
I was also a nightly drinker. My daily dose of wine was 4-6 large glasses in the evening, followed by blackouts, and morning hangovers.
In the workplace, I wore ‘a mask’ of high performance to hide my battle with alcohol misuse and severe depression. I was afraid to ask for help because I feared being judged, damaging my professional integrity, and losing my seat at the corporate table.
Consequently, I remained silent, kept it hidden, performed at a high level, and was a chameleon in the workplace.
As a result, I fell into a deeper depression, experienced intense waves of anxiety, suicidal ideations, and almost lost my life. Silence is toxic.
On July 16, 2009, my life changed forever. I asked for help and was treated by the most kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental nurse practitioner who saw me as a person first and not my illness. He created a container of safety within the walls of the exam room and allowed me to speak my truth. He was my angel.
At 12 years sober, I have learned that my story is not unique. What is unique is that I am willing to be vulnerable by sharing my lived experience to illustrate that we are not alone.
Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace is an Urgent Priority I have shared my story countless times and have been told by many that, “I see pieces of myself in your story.”
Those who have been brave enough to share that they see pieces of themselves in my story are entry level professionals, managers, directors, senior vice presidents and CEO’s from all industries.
No one is immune.
I RECOGNIZED A PATTERN IN THE WORKPLACE.
I recognized that many are afraid to speak openly about mental health and substance misuse and most are afraid to ask for help. I also recognized that leaders are searching for tools to help normalize the conversation about mental health and substance misuse.
I IDENTIFIED THIS NEED, FELT A CALLING, AND MADE A DRASTIC CHANGE.
On 4/1/2020, I stepped away from my role as Director of Partnerships, (in the middle of a pandemic), and started Kim LaMontagne, LLC. I left my entire corporate paycheck on the table because I knew my story needed to be heard and I needed to create a solution.
As a solution, I created a leadership training called, “The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture.” “The 4 Pillars” training is changing the narrative about mental health and substance misuse and teaching leaders how to create a ‘culture of safety’ in the workplace. A culture of safety is one where everyone feels safe speaking openly about mental health and substance misuse without fear of judgment, retribution, or job loss.
The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture are:
• Recognize the impact of unaddressed mental health and substance misuse in the workplace
• Share the lived experience to bring the human connection to mental health and substance misuse
• Change the perception of mental health and substance misuse
• Create an environment where employees feel safe speaking openly and are encouraged to ask for help
I am having conversations with leaders of state agencies, and local, regional, national, global organizations about the critical need to shift the culture and change the narrative around mental health in the workplace.
John Broderick, Former Chief Justice, NH Supreme Court says, “The 4 Pillars training belongs in every workplace around the globe.”
3 THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE ARE:
1. Leaders have the power to transform the workplace culture and model what culture of safety looks like. 2. Educating leaders about mental health and substance misuse creates open communication, understanding, and empathy. 3. Leaders who encourage open dialog about mental health and substance misuse create a safe space for employees to come forward and ask for help.
One key component of ‘The 4 Pillars’ is to teach leaders how to shift communication to person centered language. When using person centered language, the focus is on the person, not the illness.
Changing words like addict, alcoholic, and bipolar to person living with addiction, person living with alcohol misuse, or person living with bipolar disorder is the first step in seeing the employee as a person first and not their stigmatized illness.
A healthier employee is a more engaged employee.
When an employee feels safe, seen, heard, and understood, they are more prone to speaking openly and seeking help.
I do not train leaders to become counselors. I train leaders to feel confident that they have the skills to identify an employee in distress, empowered to open a judgment free dialog, and crosswalk the employee to company sponsored or outside resources.
Now is the time to address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Lives depend on it.
“The most powerful organizations empower employees to speak openly about mental health and substance misuse without fear of judgement, retribution, or job loss.” Kim LaMontagne, MBA
‘The 4 Pillars’ is currently available live in-person, live via the zoom platform, and on-demand to provide instant scalable access to this critical content.
To learn more about ‘The 4 Pillars’ training, visit: www. kimlamontagne.net/4-pillars
Listen to my story: https://kimlamontagne.net Schedule a consult: www.calendly.com/ kimlamontagne
Kim is President/CEO of Kim LaMontagne, LLC, an International Speaker, Teacher, and Author.
She is also a State Trainer with National Alliance on Mental Illness and a Member of the Dartmouth Hitchcock - Campaign to Combat Behavioral Health Stigma and Discrimination.
She created a training solution for leaders called, ‘The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture.’
‘The 4 Pillars’ teaches leaders how to create a safe workplace culture that empowers employees to speak openly about mental health and substance misuse without fear of judgment, retribution, or job loss.
She has the unique ability to teach through the lens of the lived experience and the lens of the leader.
Her mission is to share her lived experience and teach leaders how to normalize the conversation about mental health and substance misuse in the workplace. Lives depend on it.