While we talk plenty about being “back to normal”, our souls are still recovering from having the earth move under our feet in 2020 – recently.

The Global pandemic brought fear, isolation, scarcity, division, and disconnection to our lives that shook our cores. We saw people digging in, resisting, and getting vocal.

At work, many organizations had drastic shifts to keep meeting the demands of their customers or clients. Many went fully remote, childcare was absent, and working situations were not ideal.

And yet, most organizations survived.

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As the health emergency was dropped, it was time to get “back to normal” and yet, some of us got used to the “new way”.

All of a sudden employees were being called back to the office, safety precautions were loosened, and commutes resumed.

But what DIDN’T HAPPEN was a restoration. We didn’t reset, we didn’t make time to heal, and we didn’t address the fears and feelings many employees had.

What that did was cause real damage. A sense of mis-trust, a lack of individualized approach left many feeling “unseen”, and a distaste for traditional organizational approaches arose.

The good news is it’s not too late for us as leaders to correct this.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. Check in with each of your employees individually. Yes, I know this is going to take up a lot of your time if you have many. Do it anyway. Ask them how they are feeling. How is their productivity – is there any barrier in the way for them that you can help remove? What would make things easier for them? What support do they need. Asking your employees about how they’re doing shows you care.
  2. Take an individualized approach. Any form of resistance is a request un-met. When you see resistance, what value, fear, or concern is underneath it? Find out what’s at the root of the push back and as much as you can, make accommodations. Give your employees flexibility, options, freedom, or whatever it is they yearn for with the balance of accountability. As long as they are meeting or exceeding expectations, give them some options that make them feel valued.
  3. Take time to heal. This may feel like it’s outside of your job as a leader but healing doesn’t need to mean therapy. If your organization does provide mental health supports – great. Model what it looks like to protect your own mental wellbeing and encourage others to do the same. Don’t be a hero. If you don’t have formal support, take time to ask everyone what their biggest challenge is and offer group support on addressing it. One tip I like to give leaders is to ask their team each day “how full is your cup”. Meaning, who has capacity today, who needs a bit of a break. Of course if someone’s cup is always empty, you may have different resourcing concerns to address but as long as it is mostly balanced, you can both let employees know it’s ok to not be ok some days AND allow others to step in and support when they have more to give.

If you want to dive into Trauma informed leadership even further, I highly recommend my colleague Carolyn Swora’s book Evolve: The Path To Trauma Informed Leadership”.

If you want help facilitating a group reset, contact me. I’d be happy to work with you on this! It’s never too late to get back on track.

Yours in courageous leadership,