2020 has left a trail of exhausted people, mentally drained, after coping with a year of high uncertainty. We learned to adapt by force and reinvented ourselves. But more importantly, where we developed resilience, our ability to bounce back in the face of adversity grew and as a result, we came out stronger.
Ready for 2021? Bring it on! …but how?
How are we supposed to be ready for new endeavors when most of us feel the urge to step down and go slow for a change?
2021 is already proving itself challenging. We aren’t close to overcoming the COVID-19 crisis and we still need to care of ourselves and others. Meanwhile, the world keeps changing. New opportunities emerge in the midst of this crisis and lots of organizations struggle to survive and transform their businesses. It can feel overwhelming.
Leaders are not only dealing with their own need to reconnect and reinspire themselves, but they also need to take care of their teams, as many continue to work remotely while performing other roles (homeschooling, taking care of our elders, looking after our home etc.). Some may be suffering from change fatigue, by being constantly called to change their way of working, taking on more responsibilities as a consequence of employee cutoffs and new demands.
However, not everything is doom and gloom. There is a silver lining: we have learned a lot in 2020. We have increased our ability to confront difficult circumstances and take advantage of new emerging opportunities driven by change. Each of us has what we need to rise and shine. We just need to remind ourselves of it and invest time in renewing our energy and leading the way into 2021.
Balance work / life integration
There are simple, yet powerful, things you can try that will help refuel your energy, reignite your enthusiasm, and bring focus to what’s important, thus improving your wellbeing.
1. Disconnect to re-connect.
With travel restrictions and lockdowns throughout the world, taking time off to stay home seems counterintuitive for some of us. We usually connect holidays with traveling. However, now, more than ever, we desperately need time to pause and disconnect fully from work and daily activities. We need time to recharge, even if it means staying home, relaxing, and doing nothing. Some of the most brilliant ideas have flourished while doing nothing… just being. Plan for it and make sure you also unplug from technology. Technology has been a main character in our lives in 2020. Let’s give ourselves a break!
2. Re-commit to yourself, connecting with what is important in your life.
Take some time to reflect on what you value most: is this the life I want to have? What do I really want my life to be about? How do I want to live my life? What gives meaning to my life? Where do I want to invest my time and energy?
Gifting ourselves with time to envision what we want and grounding our thoughts re-connects us with what’s important in our lives and gives meaning to everything we do. Spiritual meaning is an unlimited source of energy.
3. Do something you love every day.
Make a list of the things you enjoy doing that lift your spirit and feed your inner self. Set aside some time every day to do the things you love. The key to refueling your energy is to be consistent and invest time in you. This will help you to be centered and present.
4. Count your blessings.
Practice gratitude deliberately every day, until it becomes a habit. Gratitude and appreciation unleash joy and happiness and provide us with a sense of wellbeing and peace of mind. We can train our minds to focus on abundance rather than scarcity, on appreciating what we have instead of what we miss. It helps reorganize our priorities to enjoy life as it is.
5. Celebrate your achievements.
Take time to celebrate what you have accomplished, even what you judge to be unimportant. Don’t take it for granted. Small celebration rituals, such as sharing what makes you feel proud with others or voicing your emotions can be enough to reinforce a sense of accomplishment, strengthen your character, and fill yourself with new renewed energy and craving for more.
A new year is a great time to stop, pause, and recommit to ourselves and what is important for us. It’s a time to refresh and consciously replenish our energy. There are small and important practices we can learn and apply every day that helps us stay focused, energized, and enjoy the ride, increasing our wellbeing and living a more conscious life.
Conversations that are emotionally difficult or complex in nature are often stressful. Whether it is difficult feedback, a performance review, communication of a change that has far reaching impact, or even a conversation to terminate a working relationship, many people struggle with the best way to have these kinds of conversations. They are challenging in person, but to have them online brings it to a whole other level. Why? In part, because we don’t have all the non-verbal clues we normally pick up on during a conversation. It is less social. The potential for misunderstandings is increased and many feel less comfortable looking at a screen and not into the eyes of the other person. With more and more companies making WFH the new norm beyond COVID19, having difficult conversations online in an effective and compassionate way is a critical leadership skill.
In over 15 years of leading global remote teams, I have experienced firsthand how critical this is for the success and wellbeing of a team, its leader, and the organization. Your ability to have respectful, compassionate, honest, and straightforward conversations online will shape your culture and be a key lever for a high performance.
Let’s imagine you have to communicate a decision that will impact one of your team members and you assume that they won’t be happy about it. The easy way out would be to just send an email, communicate the decision, and hope for the best. My first and most important recommendation is to resist that impulse and muster the courage and respect to have a conversation. There are certain things that I believe should not be discussed by email, chat, or voice message. They deserve to be synchronous and in real time.
The 3 Keys to Having Difficult Conversations Online
Here are my top 3 tips for having difficult conversations online in an effective and respectful way. While some of them may seem trivial, I have personally experienced the difference they can make.
Prepare for connection
Thorough preparation communicates respect to the other person in the conversation. It helps to reduce your own level of stress and increases the chances of achieving an outcome that serves everyone involved and the task.
Set a clear intention for the conversation and communicate the purpose to the other person with enough time for them to be well prepared. You may even ask them to reflect upon specific questions.
Create a respectful, safe environment. Be on time. Be mindful of not having a distracting (zoom) background. Try to ensure you will not have any interruptions. Even though this can be difficult under the current circumstances, you can try by locking the door or clearly communicating to others in your home that you need privacy. Silence your phone and computer so you will not have pings from text messages or email. Be in a calm, focused state. Ensure a stable internet connection and reliable equipment (microphone and camera).
Create a shared space for exploration
The level to which you can be focused on the person in front of you and the conversation at hand will influence how deep you can go, how much psychological safety will exist, and how creative the outcome may be.
If you feel it is needed, acknowledge the impact the circumstances may have. “I wish we could have this conversation in person. Because we are not able to, I want to simply acknowledge that the circumstances are not ideal, but I am committed to do my best to minimize the impact. I hope you’ll do the same”
Give your undivided attention.
Switch off self-view so you can fully focus on the other person. Whenever possible, have potentially difficult calls with the camera on and remember to make eye contact on a regular basis.
If you take notes, don’t type on the same device that you are using for the call. Either use pen and paper or a digital device that you can write on. Let the other person know beforehand that you may take notes from time to time.
Optimize for impact
Whenever there is physical distance, try to minimize emotional distance and be aware of the intention – impact gap. Just because you have the best intention for this conversation doesn’t mean you’ll have the impact you had hoped for.
Take your time – don’t rush. This conversation may take more time online than it would have in person. Plan for additional time before and after the call in your calendar, in case you need to extend.
Check for understanding and be specific – have examples, illustrate your perspective, explain the assumptions you’ve made.
This list is far from complete but has served me well. I hope it will encourage you to strive to have difficult conversations online with respect, humility, and courage. Then a “difficult” conversation has the potential to turn into an enriching experience for everyone involved, regardless of the reasons why we were having it in the first place.
In recent months, we have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty and a fast-changing world. As my colleague, Thierry, and I discussed in the article Survivor Syndrome: Overcoming Organizational Trauma in Times of Crisis, even though people are still struggling with how to adjust to these changes, we need to find a way to reconnect with our future, vision, and possibilities. In addition, people are dealing with guilt about colleagues who have been laid off, and pressure to do additional work to keep the organization alive and hopefully, thriving. Planning for the future in crisis has never been so challenging, or so important.
Planning for the Future in Crisis
How can we create a future together when there is still so much uncertainty? Can we plan and create a vision if we don’t yet know how to adapt to the recent changes? How can we help our team members feel less anxious and find a way forward that adds value for everyone?
There is a way. It needs to address business planning, but also build trust within the team and inspire and energize team members. It requires learning a new skill and putting a new process in place that many leaders are not familiar with… yet. It all can be learned through practice.
We’ll call this process: “Back to the Future: the art of scenario planning 2.0”. You may remember the movie “Back to the Future 2,” where Doc Brown taught us that the present and future as we know it could change in many different directions with new events we didn’t plan for. (If you haven’t seen the movie, you now have a plan for the weekend!) This has always happened to some degree, but the speed of change has never been as fast and disruptive as it is right now.
Many of you might be familiar with traditional scenario planning. The intention and process we need to apply in the current situation are very different. The issue now is not how many scenarios we can build based on assumptions and premises, but how fast we can read, listen, and integrate new information and adjust our plans quickly. Doing this simple 3 part exercise with our teams will help.
1. Understand and align common assumptions
Check people’s assumptions to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Do you think people will act the same if one thinks the vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready in 6 months and the other in 18 months? What happens when half of your team thinks that people will not travel again and will be spending more time at home and the other half thinks things will go back to normal sooner or later?
All of these different opinions lead people to make decisions that affect how you run the business and their level of engagement and commitment.
Creating the conversation and allowing the team to discuss common assumptions will put them to work in the same direction.
The question to ask your team is: What do you think will happen in the world in the next 3 months that will affect our business?
2. Cascading common assumptions into execution teams:
Once we align the common assumptions, we need to analyze how this will impact the work of each team.
For example, if we believe that people won’t be able to travel for at least 6 more months, how that will affect consumption based on the industry I’m in?
Then, the next question to ask is: What does my team need to do differently, based on the assumptions agreed upon, and how this will affect our business? Each leader needs to identify 2 or 3 critical things that the team needs to start approaching differently.
3. Cascading our team needs to our leadership focus:
If the team needs to do some things differently, we need to think quickly about what we need to do to make it happen.
When we are in such fast-changing environments, the speed of change is a competitive advantage or a liability.
The key question is: What do I need to do differently in the next 2 weeks to support my team and make changes with speed and agility?
Remember, you are the main lever for your team to adapt quickly.
By doing this simple exercise with your team, you will provide direction, a sense of alignment, and also, something that contributes to the common strategy. You will move from uncertainty to action and help everyone feel like part of the solution.
Planning for the future in crisis is always a challenge, but connecting with your team using the process outlined above provides a roadmap of how it can be done. This is not meant to be a one-time exercise. While you are reading this article, many assumptions I have right now might be different from when I originally wrote this, even if it’s only a week later. The faster things are changing, the more often you should run this exercise. As a leader of an organization, I would run it at least every 6 weeks under the current circumstances. Find the frequency that works for you. As you do this, you will be strengthening the muscle of agility, adaptability, and innovation. What else you can ask for? “In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer
To contact Axialent about facilitating this powerful exercise with your team, click here.
In the extraordinary circumstances of today’s world, we are being bombarded by a myriad of contradictory information, while watching the devastating effects on businesses and people we value. While all this is going on, we also need to deal with the effect this has on us as individuals and leaders, build a coherent narrative, and take action. Different people will be affected by different emotions. They might arrive at diverse conclusions and recommendations on how to move forward. How do we deal with the polarities at play amid COVID-19? What is the best way forward when fear and anxiety are the dominant emotions?
Polarities at play
Organizational learning researchers, Chris Argyris and Donald Shon, found that when managers were asked how they behaved with their teams, they responded according to the “Mutual Learning Model.” They spoke about values such as collaboration, humility, curiosity, and learning. However, when Argyris and Shon observed these same managers in action, they saw them behave very differently. Their management style was more aligned with the “Unilateral Control Model.” They consistently tried to beat their counterparts, get their own way, and control others. They didn’t admit their own mistakes and instead, would blame others. For too long, traditional education has valued knowing over learning, certainty over uncertainty, having the right answer over asking questions, and assertiveness over curiosity and tentative exploration. No wonder the managers behaved as they did.
At the same time, the managers couldn’t openly act in this way, it would be completely unacceptable. Therefore, they would act like they were not trying to control others and were more consistent with the Mutual Learning Model. When this duplicitousness takes over, organizations (and their people) go crazy.
Some examples of the current polarities at play amid COVID-19 are:
Pay attention to the health of our people, but go back into full production right away.
Assure people not to worry and do their jobs, but worry about the future and the new normal.
Tell the truth, but don’t bring bad news.
Take risks in an uncertain context, but don’t fail.
Beat everybody else, but make it look as if nobody lost.
Be creative, but always follow the rules.
Promise only what you can commit to deliver, but never say “no” to your boss’s requests.
Ask questions, but never admit ignorance.
Think long-term, but deliver on your immediate KPIs.
Most important of all, follow all these rules, but act as if none of them exist.
The inability to discuss apparent contradictions, and furthermore, the inability to discuss that they are “undiscussable” such as the last rule states, create what Argyris and Shon describe as “organizational schizophrenia.”
There is no silver bullet to deal with these contradictions. What I am about to say may sound naïve. However, we have tried it over and over with hundreds of executives across different geographies with excellent results.
The way to deal with undiscussables is… to make them discussable
The first step is, with empathy and compassion, to help people become aware that there is a contradiction at play. Even before attempting to solve it, we need to acknowledge the apparent polarity. Once “we have a contradiction,” rather than “the contradiction has us,” we can engage in conscious conversations.
Contradictions happen in organizations all the time. Different people look at a set of data and make their own interpretations based on their personal history, past experiences, what is important to him or her, their intentions and more. They create a narrative that might blatantly contradict the narrative of others. Sometimes those others are influential people, colleagues with more authority than them.
Let me illustrate this with a practical example:
One observable fact: John, the leader of the team, doesn’t speak at all during his team’s meeting with other areas. Different stories for different people: In Sam’s mind, Sr. VP of Marketing, a leader should voice his opinions, be assertive, and offer guidance to his team. Sam concludes that John has poor leadership skills and will not recommend John for the available senior position in Marketing. On the other hand, Peter, Sr. VP of Sales, believes that a leader should be measured by how well his team performs. A great leader, Peter believes, is one who makes his people say, “we did it ourselves.” John’s team performed outstandingly during the meeting. They had great ideas and made practical recommendations. In Peter’s mind, this speaks very highly of John, their leader. Peter concludes that John should be offered the available senior position in Marketing right away.
One set of facts, completely different stories, opposite conclusions and recommendations.
The way to have a constructive conversation on the matter is for Sam and Peter to understand how the other has built the story, how the observable facts turn into interpretations, and how these combine with values to give birth to their opinions. They can acknowledge that they both create different stories and value different things.
I can’t promise that they will solve their problem. What I can assert is that they will have a very different conversation about John’s performance.
Applying this process in VUCA reloaded
If you were able to ask openly, from a place of humility and curiosity, questions like, “how do you expect me to be creative AND always follow the rules?” you might discover what your boss really wants. For instance, perhaps what she really wants is that you don’t put your division in an unrecoverable risk position, should your project fail. By having this open conversation, you will learn how this is not a contradiction to her and that both can be accomplished.
To survive and thrive, you have to be able to put the polarities and tensions created by this hyper volatile context on the table. Talk about them with the mindset of the learner; understand how everything can be true at the same time. You can do so by looking through the lenses of creativity, interdependence, and “yes, and” ways of thinking. Doing so may help you to discover options that, from a place of “either-or,” had looked utterly impossible to integrate. You are making once “undiscussable” topics “discussable.” While it’s easy to say, it’s not so easy to do. But it must be done if you wish to create a more conscious organization that can effectively deal with Covid-19 and the emerging challenges of the new normal.
In the first article of a series I initiated with Fran Cherny, Survivor Syndrome: Overcoming Organizational Trauma in Times of Crisis, we offered some thoughts to start helping you, and leaders in your organization, support your employees get back to their best and grow the power of adaptability and resilience we all need now more than ever. Now it is my turn to come back to this series of articles and share with you some thoughts about the last action we suggested in our first article: “Gather information and act fast.” This important aspect of crisis leadership is about interactive and empathic communication in the context of accelerated digitalization of our social connections at work due to this Covid-19 crisis.
The number one need employees and managers have in the current context is for their organization and leaders to actively listen, with empathy and compassion, to their feelings, fears, difficulties, and what support they need., This is the first step to treating any trauma.
Managing organizational trauma
As Constanza Busto said, do not be misled by a quite common Knower posture consisting of believing that we well know what our people are feeling, what needs to be done, what’s best for the other person and needs to happen. This would be a double mistake. First, this would ignore the diversity of your employees’ feelings and needs. Secondly, what really matters is for your people to have the opportunity to express themselves and for you to show empathy, care, and compassion at work in the current context.
I see 3 key steps to manage organizational trauma: 1) Encourage your people to express and discuss their vulnerability. 2) Build a shared purpose as an organization in the context of what you will choose as your new normal, or new future, post-crisis. 3) Permanent and interactive two-way communication.
Some companies are already running initiatives to concretely gather the data and feedback they need to help their people address trauma and grief (of self and of others). These initiatives include:
Regular employeepulse surveys and/or focus groups: Stop waiting for the annual survey or the perfect organizational way of doing it instead of using simple tools and surveys. You could pose a question of the day or week, such as, “how do you feel this week about x topic?” There are easy and simple applications, like “Happyforce,” to measure how your people are feeling in general every day and/or how they feel about a specific topic. It is not only about asking, but also about acting on it. Quick, simple, and effective.
Group webinars on health & wellbeing with active participation from employees to better manage their physical and mental health, as well as practice and grow their emotional mastery.
Online peer to peer group coaching programs: Consider a series of regular 60 to 90 minute webinars during which small groups of leaders (5 to 6 max) and their coach practice how to bounce back and rebuild their response-abilities to the crises they face.
Cascading of “Reflection Dynamics:” A top-down process of monthly 1 hour in-person or online team meetings on well-structured reflections. Managers can discuss challenges with their team and ways to practice effective mindsets and behaviors that will help them, and the company, overcome concrete pain points. Then, each team member cascades it down to their own teams.
Create virtual spaces to connect: Organize a weekly virtual café (via Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, etc.) to encourage people to reconnect personally, beyond work issues.
Take advantage of this opportunity to gather information and act
This crisis is not only about trauma and disruption, it is also a fantastic opportunity to grow for people and businesses. In the past 3 to 4 months, we have seen extraordinary demonstrations of resilience, agility, creativity, speed in decision and action, collaboration, empathy, and solidarity in our organizations, cities, communities, and families. Leveraging these bright spots in your organization is a very effective way to help your employees and managers get back to their best with inspiring examples of “what we can accomplish together.” You can do this by gathering facts and data with structured tools and processes. The same tools and processes also apply to identify and measure what did not work, what should we do differently and what we must do to fix the roots of the current organizational trauma or difficulties.
Beyond any of these examples, my number one point about managing organizational trauma is that inviting your people to express and discuss their vulnerability is the best way of making them stronger and better.
First, a bit of context… 12 years ago, we went through a global financial crisis. I remember how we discussed at Axialent the impact of the crisis in organizations, people’s emotions and their effectiveness to give their best at work. At the time, one of my most brilliant mentors, Axialent founder Fred Kofman, said something that stayed with me: People will suffer Survivor Syndrome. He then developed this idea into a short article, and I think now is the time to bring back the “Survival Syndrome” issue to raise our consciousness on what people might be going through these days. Not only might people have lost someone due to the virus, but there is also a feeling of loss whenever we need to let go of the past, of what we were used to. And also when our organization goes through restructuring and we have to let go of colleagues and friends who are part of our community or business family. I call this organizational trauma in times of crisis.
My business partner, Thierry de Beyssac, and I, invite you to read the following article to raise awareness and build effective actions to deal with people’s struggles now. Everyone wants to be at their best, but often unconscious emotional stress gets in the way. We want to help everyone understand some of the hidden and unspoken dynamics we might be facing today and what is it that you can do to dissolve this. Fran Cherny
The Survivor Syndrome (in times of coronavirus)
Many war veterans realize that their psychological scars are much deeper than any physical pains, and that these will take much longer to heal. The joy and relief of returning home is sooner or later impacted by the things they remember; things they saw, experienced, felt, or feared come home with them. Stories from this past might invade their nightmares for years—perhaps even the rest of their lives. Beyond the happiness of feeling free and back home, the horror and the loss stays.
Psychological studies have found one thing in common in all these great stories of liberations and family reunions: survivor syndrome. One of the biggest emotional weights that those who made it through alive must bear is the guilt of surviving. “Why me and not my friend?” “Why am I alive when so many of my loved ones didn’t make it?” “Do I have the right to live when so many more worthy than me are dead?” Depression and other mental illness, and a great number of suicides are an outcome of not finding a way to deal with these questions.
Organizational trauma in times of crisis
Although organizational circumstances are not comparable with any of these extreme life or death situations, at a subconscious level there are some things that our mind starts thinking in a very similar way. For one’s self‐image and ego, the loss of a job has a deep impact in our self-esteem and how we are perceived by others.
When downsizing, many companies invest in psychological and outplacement counseling for those who have been let go. This occurred after the 2008 financial crisis, and we now see this as a common practice in most large organizations. But what about the “survivors”? What about those who now have to carry more responsibilities in a “leaner and meaner” organization? Who helps these people cope with some of the guilt and stress of remaining when some of their colleagues and friends have gone? People are asking: Why did I “survive”?
Some real situations
It is easy to think that those who still have a job should feel reassured, consider themselves lucky, and be ready to give the best of themselves. This might be very true for some, but also a bit more complicated for many others. Not facing a possible organizational trauma could prove to be gross negligence for your business.
In the past several weeks we have seen many people in coaching sessions, leadership meetings and virtual training sessions trying to talk about this and finding it hard to find the right words. We have seen a case of a company who decided to cut 40% of their workforce as their industry has been deeply affected. We heard from some of the people still there, who are working double the hours, and still investing a lot of time in connecting with their colleagues who are gone now, checking on them. We know of one employee even offering to give up 50% of their salary so they can offer a 50% job to someone else, as a way to take care of a colleague they valued a lot, which is an amazing gesture of generosity, but that has much more implications when the company does not know how to respond to these initiatives. All this takes time, energy and emotional resilience, and people don’t know how to deal with this.
Paying attention to the hidden dynamics
In the midst of the current global crisis, we are seeing a deep impact not only at a health and an economic level, but also at a mental health level. With so many companies of all sizes impacted by the coronavirus confinement and restrictions, and with the high level of uncertainty of the future, it is important to also take these work‐force survivors into consideration and help them to be at their best. Yes, many people have lost their jobs and we should definitely connect with them and support them emotionally and financially. But let’s also be aware that many others have kept their jobs and in a different way, they are struggling to. Yes, people are being supported by their employers to deal with technology issues, how to effectively work from home and many other things that are definitely needed, but we are seeing very little attention being given to the emotional issue created by survivor syndrome.
Why do we need to also focus on this when we have so many others issues? Because these are the employees that will carry us through the crisis, and their needs must be met as they face difficult situations, many times expressing symptoms of guilt, stress and fear. And many worry they could be next as there’s no guarantee that layoffs will not continue.
Our invitation is to at least consider it, because this might be a hidden issue affecting your employees’ state of mind and their capacity to be at their best. It is always better to check, to connect with people’s real concerns and fears, than to pretend that nothing is there, creating an “undiscussable” (something we all know exists, but no one really talks about openly, which creates even more tension).
Leadership responses will make the difference
We are raising this because with the current context and level of challenge everyone is facing on all levels, we perceive a risk that many managers might use “passive aggressive” or “passive defensive” behaviors, based on how our primal brain works when we are stressed and in really challenging circumstances: the flight or fight response. This could be expressed in various ways, for example by saying “Come on, let’s focus on the future, let’s move on” when others are not ready, or by just not talking to and connecting with colleagues as a way to avoid “rocking the boat”, or by feeling the need to connect emotionally with our own vulnerability and fears.
If these dynamics are happening today, we believe things will get much more difficult soon when we face the expected next phase of “people and business rightsizing“ that many are already calling, maybe too quickly, the “new normal”.
Responding to the challenge in a constructive way
So how can we break this vicious circle? How can you help your employees get back to their best and grow the power of adaptability and resilience they, and your organization, need now more than ever? Axialent has been working with organizational culture change, executive learning and team effectiveness for a long time now. During difficult times and crisis, people usually do not respond as they normally would. There is a layer of emotional challenges that blocks many people’s ability to face reality and to embrace new ways with agility and joy. And unless worked on, it is hard for many people to connect with the opportunity and explore how they can grow, bringing the best of themselves for them, their colleagues and even, for those who are not around in the team anymore.
As a way to start helping you, and leaders in your organization, support your employees to be at their best, we offer below some specific actions. These will help people move on, with resilience, integrating their feelings and refocusing on what they can do to make the situation better for everyone:
1. Put things “on the table”. What remains “under the carpet” or hidden, exists anyway and becomes a source of tension that will add unconscious “weight in people shoulders”. It is critical to create a safe space where people can talk about their feelings, engage in a constructive dialogue and build a collective emotional intelligence.
2. Meet people where they are. With empathy, compassion and non‐judgement, let’s allow everyone to be where they are before we invite them to move on. Don’t ask them to follow and meet you where you are, but walk towards them and let them know you are in it together. Show people it’s ok to feel what they feel. And recognizing our own vulnerability first is a strength that will allow people to move on faster and from a good place. 3. Ask people what they need to be at their best, inviting them to be players and gain control. People are often trapped in their own victimhood and find it hard to connect with what is in their control to make things better. We can gently invite them to connect with that part of themselves. It is always impressive to see how improving self-confidence and self-esteem is one of the most powerful ways to gain the resilience you need to face any crisis.
4. Create a future together. In the current uncertain times, it is critical to create a vision for what we can create together, in a way that strengthens our capacity to adapt. Building scenarios together, and adjusting them based on new information, is an exercise that helps people share possibilities and start working based on them. This helps everyone feel that they are contributing to solving things in each of the three dimensions of sustainable success: business KPIs, the way we work together building trust, and how each of us feel as individuals are aligned to our core values.
5. Gather information about how all this evolves and then act fast. The number one need that both employees and managers have been expressing is to be actively listened to. In today’s world you can leverage technology to gather data (even every day) about what your employees think and feel, and what their general mood is (always using it in a responsible and open way with the people from whom you are collecting the data from). Don’t miss this opportunity to know how your people are doing, and design actions that can meet their emotional needs.
Only from a place of awareness, we can choose how to best respond to each situation. This is the time to help everyone be at their best and each of us can play a key role in making this happen.
First published by Thierry de Beyssac and Fran Cherny in LinkedIn