Leading Through Uncertainty
Leading by example is a powerful tool for demonstrating the values that a company upholds. When leadership prioritizes their own mental health goals, employees feel empowered to follow suit, and this can cultivate a healthy working environment in and of itself. Being the leader a team needs in times of uncertainty is a heavy responsibility, but the benefits provide clear and open communication channels about struggles employees are experiencing in their workplace, as well as mitigating uncomfortable feelings of stigma and othering.
Workplace stressors are very rarely solely on the minds of managers, especially in times of global flux. Employees are just as worried about retention, for example, as team leaders. Less people involved in production means more pressure on each individual that remains. Interest rates and the rising cost of goods don’t exclusively affect materials needed to run a business. Groceries, cost of living and transportation all rise when there is a significant change in the economy.
Heads of departments are likely struggling with the same challenging thought processes as their teams, and understanding these similarities in mental capacity can help an organization come together in ways that benefit overall workplace mental health.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Addressing stress literacy in upper management can take many forms. Some teams find that dedicated training works well to inform leadership of how to handle times of uncertainty. Seasoned leaders, however, might benefit more from one on one discussions about more detailed aspects of the business. Since they work so closely with employees, management can have some interesting insights about specific support avenues they can take that are unique to their teams.
Asking leadership how they themselves deal with stress can be a great starting off point. It can be difficult to assist others with their wellness if we don’t feel secure in our own, so communicating, encouraging and practicing good mental wellness among department heads is an important step in overall workplace wellness. Oftentimes, leaders set the tone for how mental wellness is handled company wide. When leaders make time for their own mental health, take appropriate breaks, and set healthy boundaries, employees are encouraged to follow suit and set healthy parameters for themselves during their own work days. This mindset can translate as far up the ladder as a company can reach!
How to Expect the Unexpected
Times of uncertainty make morale even more important. Unaddressed issues can feel overwhelming when trying to work around project deliveries or everyday assignments. Focus can become frequently affected and conversations may turn short and unproductive. During this time, making it known that support is easily accessible and available can be an important beginning to any conversation about mental wellness.
Going above and beyond the expectation that problems should be “left at the door” and addressing that some challenges have a lasting effect shows a great deal of humanity and empathy when coming from employers. Making resources like peer support available to team members ensures that they have somewhere to go outside of the company to vent and process life’s challenges. When these safety nets are in place, team leaders can rest assured that, should their teams begin showing signs of stress, immediate resolutions are available. This reduces downtime while managers search for solutions and ensures quick workplace recovery!
Live. Laugh. Above.
Being cognizant of the similarities in struggles between management and employees, supporting team leaders in their own mental health journeys and ensuring that support is in place are all effective ways to lead a team during times of uncertainty. While many challenges are unavoidable, having effective plans in place to handle them can give an entire workplace piece of mind!
Read Other Related Blog Post
Peer Support: An Employer’s Solution for Employee Stress
Over the years, my conversations with corporate leaders, managers, and anyone who leads people often ends with a similar conclusion, “Dr. Jada, we have the same mental health challenges as our employees!” And herein lies an interesting dichotomy for many employers who are tasked with leading their teams while silently managing their own personal workplace stressors.