Amidst the juggle, and not knowing, and the worry, I came together with a group of Clore Social leaders on the Emerging Leader Women & Girls Programme to think about resilience – what boosts and what hinders our resilience in this very strange new reality we are now getting to grips with. I shared several models that help us think about how we can approach this new way of being and boost our wellbeing during this stressful time. Thinking about the Clore Social values of ‘know yourself’ and ‘look after yourself’ here are five things to consider when thinking about your own resilience and that of your team:
1. Everyone is in panic or stretch mode at the moment.
When at work we are almost always operating in one of three zones:
- Our comfort zone – jobs we know well, things we’ve done before, relationships which are easy and well established;
- Our stretch zone – this is where the learning happens, we are learning new things, stretching and challenging ourselves a bit, making new connections, achieving new things;
- And then there’s the panic zone - this is where we are in fight or flight mode, it’s all quite overwhelming, and our performance starts to dip as we are stressed. Right now everyone is probably oscillating between stretch and panic. And that is not sustainable.
Do what you can to find space to sit in your comfort zone every day. Even if it’s checking in with a trusted colleague for a chat, or ticking off something straightforward on your list. Step out of the panic zone when you can. See point 3 for one way of doing this.
2. Everyone is dealing with this change at a different pace.
You’ll have heard of the change curve – the journey we all go on when there is change in our home or work. It’s often talked about when departments go through restructures or when we may experience bereavement. Right now, we are going through change on a very grand scale and the change is happening very quickly. Every day there are new guidelines, guidelines which often it is us who stayed up through the night to write!
Everyone goes through change at a different rate, and crucially not in a linear fashion. You may feel you’ve assimilated the new way of being quite well, and then another set of guidelines comes up and suddenly you feel angry or depressed again. This is normal. And everyone is going through it. Be kind to those who finding today difficult. Don’t expect everyone in your team to get with the programme straight away. For team members who are struggling – buddy them up with someone they can talk to. Signpost to other support available (employee assistance programme?).
3. Focus on what you can influence or control.
Stephen Covey, in ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ talks about the circles of influence. He talks of three concentric circles:
- The smallest is our circle of control – the stuff in there we can do something about.
- Slightly bigger and around the first circle is our circle of influence – things go in there which are not directly within our control but certainly something we could influence if we worked out how.
- The final circle represents that which we can as individuals neither directly control nor influence, like a global pandemic for example. It’s called the circle of concern. The more time we spend in that circle of concern, thinking about things which we cannot control or influence the more stressful it is, and the less agency we feel we have.
However, the good news is that the more time we spend on what we can influence or control the more resourceful we feel. And, crucially, the more our circle of influence expands. (Fraud angle – focus on tightening up processes in YOUR area, don’t worry about what other teams are doing over there. Be in your sphere of influence by making sure everyone in your team are aware of what to look out for to mitigate fraud, etc.)
4. Find moments for wellbeing amid the high performance.
Some definitions of resilience talk about it being a balance between high performance and wellbeing. However, if we think about elite athletes, they have moments of very high performance and long stretches where they are focusing on wellbeing. That focus on wellbeing gives them the resources to be able to perform when they need to. You cannot consistently expect high performance from yourself without putting something back into your tank.
What can you do each day to focus on your wellbeing? Whether it’s a chat with a friend over Zoom, a nice food delivery, cuddles with your kids, a yoga workout, don’t expect you can run on empty.
Just because now we are all connected via Zoom, Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, Slack etc., etc., doesn’t mean we should be 24/7. Create boundaries for you that work for you. Talk to your team about who is able to cover what and when, and when it’s not your turn, put your work phone away, shut your laptop and do something else. No one has their most creative ideas staring at a blank Word document. You’ll feel better and be more creative for getting away from your inbox. And creativity is what we all need right now!
What could you to do get out of your circle of concern and into your circle of influence, so you can have impact in the world? (Interestingly, spending time in our circle of concern is very likely to tip us into our panic zone.) What boundaries can you put in place to safeguard your wellbeing? What conversations do you need to have to check in on those you work with?
Stay safe and well and be the change you want to see.
You can follow Jen on Linkedin (Jennifer McCanna PCC), Twitter @jenthecoach and on Facebook at McCanna Coaching. Visit Jen's website for more information and useful articles: https://mccannacoaching.co.uk/