By Nicole Dhanraj, Ph.D, SHRM-SCP, PMP, CRA, R.T (R)(CT)(MR)
Employees from every industry were significantly overwhelmed and panicked as a result of the recent COVID-19 crisis. Leaders within many imaging departments tweeted, posted and called for help in trying to ensure their employees’ well-being. Their employees were under significant strain, some lashing out, others unable to work due to stress and familial obligations. Some leaders even lamented they felt their ethics and values were compromised because of the situation their employees had to work in and thought it very difficult to maintain employee motivation and calmness in the chaos that laid before them.
So, what should be done to keep an employee’s mental health in a crisis? Though there is no one size fits all approach, there is a common element to getting through any crisis; you, as the leader and your actions. Yes, though there are specific strategies to improve employees’ mental health, the catalyst for preventing mental health decline in a crisis and building resilience, is you and your actions as a leader.
Here are a few thoughts for imaging leaders to consider to better support employees.
A crisis reveals what’s inside. People will often blame others for what’s happening. As such, you have to be prepared that your employees will throw blame at you, spew, withdraw, and think the worse of you as a leader. You should not take this personally, this is a natural reaction to fear, and uncertainty. When their world becomes disrupted, people blame others. So, if you find your staff blaming you, remember, it’s a natural process. Acknowledge their fears and allow a safe space for expression. This may be all an employee needs to move forward.
No need to fix it. Leaders do not have to have all the answers and therefore fix everything. Some people are born to lead in a crisis, but others learn, usually by experience. As a leader, though your employees may seem like they think you may have all the answers, they know you are human, and as such not perfect and will make mistakes or be short of an answer occasionally. A display of vulnerability supports an authentic relationship with them. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns but do so with judgment. Don’t feed your fears, acknowledge your feelings before they overtake your behavior. Sharing your concerns can bring your team together, tightening their relationships. Together as a team, you can brainstorm possible answers to how some of the critical questions; how do we staff, how do we sustain our PPE, what is the next step we should take in this crisis, or what is my future at this organization? Remember, the collective thoughts of a group are much more useful than one perspective. Including your team and hearing from that what would work for them, versus you enforcing plans without input would foster confidence and a sense of ownership, and not to mention, the understanding, this too shall pass. Your words become your team’s reality. In a crisis, you are already somewhat worse off, so shift the mindset to think about what is the best outcome in the given situation?
For more tips read the unabridged article at tinyurl.com/RadIdeaJuly.