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Supporting Your Team in Crisis

"Crisis management refers to the identification of a threat to an organization and its stakeholders in order to mount an effective response to it." Investopedia

I like this definition of crisis because it is written from the perspective of those desiring to protect an investment. The greatest investment you can make in your company is the one you make in your team's mental health.

While it appears we are moving away from the organizational and disruptive crises created by COVID19, there are still concerns that impact your team members around the clock. Here are some things that could be on the minds of the team member across the hall or at home as they are working on priorities for your organization:

  • How is the auto workers' strike going to affect me/us when we have to buy a car next year?

  • Rent is expensive but I don't know when I will be able to afford a house because interest rates are so high.

  • Am I going to lose my job?

  • I am anxious about the state of war and/or my own safety or those of my family.

  • Am I liked or respected here? I feel disconnected.

  • AND, whatever is going on in the workplace team.

In his book, Brain Rules, John Medina gives twelve insights about how the brain works and strategies for maximizing mental performance. I draw your attention to Rule Number 8: "Stressed brains do not learn the same way as non-stressed brains." That your team members are stressed is not the question. The question is as a leader, how can you support them as they mentally and emotionally navigate today's world? His or her stress will impact their ability to learn and adapt to the needs of your organization.

I talked with Therapist Christine Madden about how leaders and organizations can support their team members' mental and emotional well-being, and here are some of her suggestions:

  • Partner with a local counseling agency to provide employees with three to five counseling sessions that are free to employee and offered at a discounted rate to the business. This benefits all. The employee receives counseling by a licensed therapist and the business has a mentally healthier employee.

  • Include a certain number of mental health days as a part of the PTO package.

  • Re-think your staff break policy by providing more frequent, shorter breaks and encouraging employees to step away from their workspace and reset. This could also include providing a break space that is comfortable.

  • Educate leaders and managers in healthy communication skills.

  • Institute mental health workshop days on company time and property. This should not just be someone presenting or talking, but an experiential activity or a guided group discussion.

As you think about the potential costs in dollars or time, I invite you to consider your response if you had advance knowledge of a coming threat that would drastically impact your company's financial bottom line. Which response would be most prudent: to stave off the threat before it becomes a crisis, or to do damage control after?

Michele Aikens is CEO & Lead Coach at Clearsight Coaching & Consulting, Inc. We help teams navigate change with courage, compassion and clarity. Contact us if you could use a partner in your team's growth.

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