Article by Sally Foley-Lewis
When you get startled or a crisis kicks in do you hold your breath, gasp, or gulp in some air? I know I gasp. It’s reactionary and challenging to change such a habit.
Since 2020 change has been all consuming: lock downs, work from home (WFH) and drastic work arounds in workplaces were being worked out and implemented on the go, it’d be fair to say many people would be in a state of amygdala hijack. In simplest terms, a lot of gasping! Or, more specifically, immediate, overwhelming emotions in response to the situation. A simple way to see it is: Emotion high = Logic low.
Very few people could say they’ve not had an ‘emotion high and logic low moment’.
Prolonged periods of being in stress leads to depleted energy, increasing decision fatigue, costly mistakes, low staff morale and high turnover.
When facing change in combination with uncertainty of how long a complex situation will last, it’s critical for leaders to find ways to sustain their mental, emotional and physical health. While a leader cannot interfere with an employee’s personal life, every leader can facilitate a dialogue and activities that, as a team, can ensure the team are also mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy to sustain themselves through good times and the bad.
Looking at William Bridge’s Transition Model, this applies to how people move through change. Amidst uncertainty in the world correlates to the neutral zone. This zone is characterized by feelings, such as:
It’s the neutral phase it’s about letting go of the past (or wishing things didn’t change) to accepting the opportunities that change is presenting. As indicated in the model, the neutral zone can span some time (time on the model is the x axis along the bottom.)
Five ways to support yourself and others through sustained uncertainty:
Self: Reach out to people and check in on them. who could you make a connection or link with to strengthen your relationships and networks?
We created a private Facebook group for our street and we check in on each other regularly.
Team: Ask your team members what they are doing to stay connected with their most important people?
Self: Do something for someone. Lend a hand. When we can focus on others or on a purpose we tend to ‘get out of our own heads’ and feel good about ourselves. Who can you lend a hand to. Even do something as small as making someone a cup of tea!
In our street’s private Facebook group we shout out when we’re going to Costco, farmers markets, etc., asking if anyone needs anything.
Team: Ask the team what team activity they could do to lend a hand to those in need.
Self: Find ways to maintain your physical wellbeing.
You may know I’m planning to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in January 2021, I’m still training as if I’m going.
Team: Ask your team members to share their favourite sport and activity.
Self: Take time (even just a few minutes) to pay attention to the world around you. Aside from the news of the day, what’s happening in your local area, can you hear birds singing, neighbourhood noises. Be a little more observant to the environment.
I’ve loved watching the kids in our street write letters to each other: riding their bikes up and down the street popping notes into letter boxes!
Team: Create a treasure hunt with the team and have some fun taking time to observe and notice what’s around you every day but may take for granted.
Self: Leaders are learners! Keep learning. Now, more than ever, there will be skills worth learning to prepare you for how the world of work will look in our future. The World Economic Forum puts: complex problem solving, critical thinking and people management amongst the top 10 skills for 2020 and beyond.
I run an online book club for professional development and our current situation has made this program even more valuable for me to focus on learning.
Team: Ask your team what they would like to learn about that would make their work easier. Hand the opportunity to your team to set up and run a lunchtime book club.
While these five ways are very practical and helpful to sustain yourself and others through change, uncertainty and ambiguity, these apply any time and would go a long way to support yourself and your team to boost productivity, focus and future ready.
This article is copyrighted and authorized by: Sally Foley-Lewis
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