We care about our employees. And from that place, we regularly offer advice on what they can do to deal with the difficulty of this moment.
Here are some things I have heard lately:
- Tough through it. Tough times won’t last.
- Find a way to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
- Just be happy because it could be worse.
- Change your attitude; stop being so negative.
- You have to have stamina and grit or every tough situation will take you down.
- Just get back up and keep going. That’s what successful people do.
To be honest, these are incredibly unhelpful.
In most cases, your employees are aware of all of this “wisdom.” They know WHAT they should do, the challenge is they don’t know HOW to do it, especially in today’s world. That is really what they want and need from you: guidance to navigate the challenging situation we’re all in that no one could have predicted.
So instead of telling them what to do, help them learn how to do it. Here are three ways to shift from the WHAT to the HOW.
- Be present. Most of us don’t know how to be in this moment because we don’t really know our abilities – the things that are part of us to help us in this exact moment. To help employees learn to tune in to themselves, offer some self-awareness training. Engage a coach to lead them through developing an inventory of abilities or use an online assessment. Make time to debrief the results and help employees see HOW to use their abilities to deal with today’s tough times. Someone who is organized, for example, can use that ability to calmly stay in control of daily activities. Someone who is empathetic can help others talk through their challenges and feelings. Someone who is more direct can use that ability to cut through the fluff and get the answers and guidance the company needs. We are all more talented and capable than we know. Your employees can’t use what they don’t know, so give them the tools to help them fill in the blanks about who they are.
- Understand the moment. The real issue is that we are in challenging times that make us feel that we have little or no control. This activates our limbic brain, the part of the brain that reverts to safety and caution, so we are routinely in fight, flight or freeze reactions. Everything seems amplified and more difficult from that mindset. So, the shift in mindset is HOW to deal with this moment. This first starts with understanding. Share with employees why they are feeling this way, that this is normal in a period of extended stress and that most others are in this same situation. This prepares them for HOW to take action in our next step.
- Develop a toolbox of success habits. This is where you can help your employees develop tangible actions that help them actually develop stamina and grit, how to improve their attitude and how to be grateful for what they have.
Here are some options of HOW to rally in tough times that I share with my clients, as well as a few ideas they’ve shared with me:
- Develop a gratitude practice by starting and ending each day with a list of 5 things you are grateful for, including your abilities; share this with a family member or friend.
- Develop a practice to breathe deeply when you encounter a challenge (breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4; do as often as is needed).
- Develop a network of people (phone a friend) to check in on (they need your help to help them out of feeling sorry for themselves; you need their help to help you stop feeling sorry for yourself). Do this as often as needed.
- Develop a connection to nature (nature delivers a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week distraction to shift out of challenge and on to beauty).
- Exercise or do yoga to shift your mind off the stresses of the day and onto your health and wellbeing (invite a friend).
- Journal or write about your thoughts, feelings and emotions to better understand them and to gain context.
- Focus on a celebration or great time that has recently happened. Dream of how to do something like it again.
Gather and share more ideas so all employees have a start in HOW to change their attitude about what is happening to show up more energized and excited, even when they face tough and challenging times.
Most of us don’t know how strong, resilient and adaptable we are until we go head-to-head with tough times. Then, with some tools and some guidance, we find that we are able to rally – to dig deeper and find that we are, as A.A. Milne shares in his famous quote, “braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.”
Your employees don’t need you to remind them WHAT they should be doing; they really need you to help them with HOW to do it. Consider developing a company initiative to address HOW to help employees stay upbeat, focused and energized, even when the world around them is tough. This is one of the greatest values you can create for an employee – a value they will actively take and use everywhere in life.
By Jay Forte