COVID Advice Syndrome

by Bill Swift on April 20, 2020

in Leadership,Reflection

Covid-19 text with marker, concept background

Company Values at the Forefront As We All Adjust

I don’t know about you, but in the past few weeks I have received about a ton and a half of advice about how to cope with all the change and stressors that have hit us recently. To be honest, I am also guilty of adding to the advice pile. Convinced that humans can absorb only so much advice on coping and balancing, I am experiencing for myself and witnessing in others a point where, like a saturated sponge, people just stop absorbing.

All of this advice is, of course, well-intentioned. I suppose in a crisis we naturally jump to some kind of support-the-team mode.

  • We are encouraged to adapt to the “new normal,” although what we are experiencing is neither.
  • We are encouraged to keep regular schedules.
  • We are encouraged to keep up on our sleep and exercise (I have a co-worker waiting for delivery of her storable stationary bike).
  • We are encouraged to reconnect with our family members.
  • We are encouraged to “Balance Work and Family” as if each has had some equal weighting in our social-emotional worlds. Somehow we are virtually in each other’s homes on a daily basis though ZOOM meetings, virtual happy hours, Facetime. I now know the distinct bark of my co-workers’ dogs and the rhythms of their children’s learning schedules.

To be sure, we all need to take care of our physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual selves. Not sure we need a bombardment of advice on how to do it.

And what about the teams we are part of?

In the last month what we have witnessed in our Association Membership is a revealing of what strong companies are all about. Whatever individual adjustments we all make, the good, bad and ugly of the culture that we have developed is shining through. Not my job to judge these, although I am pretty good at it. We are now observing that many organizations are finding their “Best Selves.”

As we temper the therapizing, perhaps we will get back to what makes great workplaces great. Borrowing from Lencioni’s The Advantage, here are some of the more important organizational questions for any day, perhaps especially for times of challenge and transition:

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we behave?
  • What do we do (what business are we in)?
  • How will we succeed?
  • What is the most important thing right now?
  • Who on the team must do what and by when?

This massive work-from-home experiment may be a blip, just a temporary thing. Maybe not. But, in this truly personal and invitation-to-reflection time, I am leaning toward turning off my email advice stream a couple of times a week. I may not need therapy right now. Perhaps just being quiet and reflecting upon what is important for my teams might do.

I have a hunch that those workplaces that have given voice in the past to self-care, balance, and wellness will reconnect well with their employees throughout these COVID-19 changes. I also have a hunch that those workplaces that have neglected self-care, balance and wellness may try to address these concerns and, perhaps, wish they had started a bit sooner.

Please continue to let us know what is working for you to keep your team going. We have been witnessing Cascade Employers Association members being their absolute best selves.

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