We’ve been at this for months now. The lockdown juggle. Performing our role in sub-optimal conditions, whilst attempting to manage the situations in our respective households.
What I’m hearing in my coaching work is that the initial understanding and compassion for the challenges people are facing in this situation are dissipating fast. That stance implies “this is our new normal, get on with it”.
But, this is far from “normal”
I have clients who:
- Have 4 working adults in the household, all fighting for the optimal workspace, the Wi-Fi bandwidth, some quiet for calls and think time, and just generally getting on top of each other in ways they wouldn’t have before.
- Have pre-school children hanging off them all day whilst attempting to manage their full-time job, feeling guilty that their children aren’t getting what they need, and feeling incompetent about the day’s work they are putting in.
- Have school-age children at home, attempting to be a full time teacher and caregiver, whilst also carrying out their role.
- Have been on furlough for months and live alone – everyone around them saying “lucky you” – when actually they are feeling lost, lonely, dis-connected, and their confidence is taking a nose-dive.
- Have been going into a largely empty office because their role is needed on-site, and are feeling pressured to do so, and guilty about what they may be taking back home with them.
- Have had their hours reduced, have been told their job is at risk, have been made redundant.
- Have seen their sector come to a grinding halt and are fearful of what the future holds, trying to keep their heads held high whilst they consider re-training or looking for alternatives.
And the list goes on.
You see, this isn’t a normal situation by anyone’s standards. The additional pressures and stressors that have been instantly layered into our lives are significant, constant, and here for the foreseeable.
We are incredibly adaptable and resilient
Haven’t we seen amazing levels of creativity and innovation during this period? Call centre technology now in people’s homes, an explosion in the use of video calling, people finding ways to make it possible to keep businesses running and people in jobs.
I’ve found it astonishing and uplifting to see how quickly we can adapt to the most challenging of situations.
Everyone should get the gold medal for the resilience they have demonstrated!
However … as time marches on, and businesses strive to get back on their feet and make up for lost revenue, the empathy for all of those situations listed may no longer be coming through just as strongly.
The need for compassion is even greater
I’m hearing phrases along the lines of:
- “It’s like they’ve forgotten everything I’m juggling and are just expecting more and more.”
- “All of the understanding that was demonstrated early on has completely disappeared, it’s back to business as usual, except it’s not.”
- “They started off with the best intention of communicating well, but I haven’t had an update for weeks now.”
Crisis mode requires laser focus, we all know that. But that focus must have at its centre the needs and challenges of the people who are delivering for you. Without them, any business is pretty much screwed.
So, let’s not forget the need for overt compassion and understanding, the need to check-in, and the need to enable people to perform through more than just providing the tools and the tech.
Compassion is not soft, it’s not weakness, it’s a critical leadership skill that contributes to great performance.
I’m helping leaders to get this balance right
This is a hard balance to get right, there’s no doubt. After all, leaders have all the same juggling challenges too.
I am partnering with leaders in businesses to support their team in the right way. An independent ear, an experienced leader myself, and a whole load of coaching and workplace wellbeing expertise, means I can ‘do’ as well as ‘advise’.
If you want to explore how I can help you to help your team, then it’s just an email or phone call away. You don’t have to do this alone.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org