I was recently having lunch with my friend Susan, who also happens to be the director of a nonprofit organization. She was feeling quite stressed (as so many other clients are), as we discussed some of the biggest challenges leaders are facing now as a result of COVID-19 and the last 15 months. We came up with a very long list.
Then she asked me, “What are the recurring themes you notice in dealing with other leaders who are feeling the same way?” It was a great question, and as you might expect – it’s a very long list. But there are some areas of concern that seem to be standing out a little more than others right now. I’ve mentioned four of them below, and included some additional resources. I’d love to hear what you think.
Take a Vacation
I asked Susan about her summer vacation plans, and she looked at me a little sheepishly and said, “I don’t have any.” She went on to explain that she’s had significant changes in employee roles, with many leaving and other new-hires needing onboarding, etc. Clearly, she was carrying the entire future of the organization on her very tired shoulders. And to that I say, take a vacation!
As this article from Harvard Business Review by Art Markman, PhD explains, “After a year of so much disruption, grief, and anxiety, taking time away from work and your responsibilities is especially important. Rest and time away increases resilience, which makes people better able to deal with the inevitable setbacks at work.” Yes, what he said.
Put Your People First
If you’re trying to jump back in and “get back to normal,” you will not succeed. It is imperative now more than ever to create and/or maintain a people-first organization. What does that look like? Employees are engaged and genuinely embrace their work because they understand the purpose for doing what they do. People-first executives, managers and decision-makers create places where employees actually want to work with them, and attract workers who can’t wait to be a part of their teams.
Additionally, by choosing to make people the top priority, organizations experience significant benefits. Take a look at this blog, 4 Big Reasons Why People-First Leaders & Organizations Are Winning, to find out more.
Embrace Change & Redirection
Have you noticed an increase in friends and colleagues who are thinking about changing careers, reevaluating goals, or just desperately looking for something … different? Maybe you’re the one going through a do-I-even-want-to-do-this type of crisis. Turns out, it’s a trend, according to this Forbes article written by Amy Blaschka, Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Post-Pandemic Career Check-In.
According to Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker survey, half of all workers say that the pandemic has made them reevaluate their career goals. Nearly the same number (48%) are rethinking the type of job they want post-pandemic, while 53% say they’d switch to an entirely new industry if they could retrain.
If you’re feeling stressed out, stir-crazy and antsy to make changes, it’s important to gain clarity. Blaschka suggests some solid steps you can take to get there – check them out.
Develop a Re-Entry Plan
Re-entry into the world after having dealt with isolation, anxiety and uncertainty for so many months can be a major shock, both culturally and individually. I’ve been working with clients who are feeling increased anxiety and physical exhaustion as a result of peak “busyness” and filled-to-the-brim schedules – an abrupt change for most of us.
It’s important to realize just how different things are and will be for you, your teams and colleagues. Even if you’ve done an amazing job keeping remote workers connected, you must make team building a priority now and in the coming months.
As I mentioned in Top 3 Tips to Manage Workforce Re-Entry:
Thoughtful, intentional and goal-focused team building events help relationships strengthen and grow while promoting unity and building trust. And believe me, trust is the foundation from which to start. It takes a lot of work to empower team members and ensure they feel valued and appreciated.
Help Is Here
If you’re feeling stressed and need a plan for team building, post-pandemic re-entry, or being an effective and strong leader in this time of weirdness, contact us now to get started – we’re ready to help.