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Crisis Management Is An Opportunity To Build Your Culture

Do you consider yourself to be a good leader in a crisis?

In my last article, I talked about the 4 T’s of a workplace culture: toxic, tense, treated, and thriving.

How would you characterize your work environment in a crisis? Are you thriving or simply surviving?

We’re going to talk about crisis management and the ways you can thrive…

Crisis Response: the tilting point

Think of your response as the fulcrum of crisis management…tipping between healthy and unhealthy results.

Unhealthy workplace

A workplace and culture where crisis reactions and well-being are not actively promoted, and injuries consistently occur.

Signs & signals

  • Gossip, backbiting, political, cynical, bullying
  • Heated conflicts, low morale, management by crisis
  • Wrong behaviours get ‘bonuses’

Healthy workplace

A safe workplace and culture where crisis response and well-being are being promoted. Aligned and on purpose despite differences, disagreements, or crises.

Signs & signals

  • Trust, leadership, and culture foundation of engagement
  • Walk and talk are aligned, and people want to be at work
  • Personnel crisis support is offered because it’s the right thing to do

Crisis in an unhealthy workplace

When a critical incident or a significant event or change happens in an unhealthy workplace and culture, there’s a normal progression…

1. The event

Reactions impacting the workplace knock the norm out of alignment, and your personnel’s engagement is negatively impacted.

Leadership response:

  • You know you need to do something, you want to support people, but you are not sure what the best approach is.
  • You have a job that needs to get done and want to get back to the norm ASAP!
  • You catch yourself blaming people for their reactions or thinking life happens, and life goes on.
  • You’re unable to focus on your work and experience your own stress reactions.

2. The Intervention

There’s immediate on scene support – a mad flurry, suggestions that someone on the scene do something, that you call the Employee Assistance Program.

Engagement seems to plateau for a little bit as people feel cared for, but then it resumes its decline and culture is not improving if not getting worse.

Leadership response:

  • EAP has been called, now it’s been checked off the list…now get back to work.
  • I’m not a parent or babysitter – here’s the 800 number to call if you want.
  • The experts in the stands are telling you that stress leaves and sick time are your responsibilities.
  • You start to feel isolated and misunderstood.
  • You had to meet with clinician for help – who just did not get it.
  • You feel cared for at first, but it’s feeling more like you’re being patronized in the days that follow.

3. Transfer of Information

Here comes that never-ending amount of education with courses, programs, experts, and even certifications to learn about what the personnel are dealing with.

There is such a proliferation of different training, courses, workshops, keynote speakers, seminars…the list goes on forever.

There seems to be a disconnect between leadership and personnel. The perception is growing that the organization is just checking a box for support but not actually being supportive.

Leadership response:

Engagement is still diminishing, and culture is not improving if not getting worse.

  • There is a consistent financial drain of new training or new programs without a real sense of a measurable ROI.
  • You want the best for your people, but who do you trust? Who do you listen to without getting sold on something else? Who do you send for the training and education, never mind the selection and qualification of those personnel?
  • You feel like you are being trained in something that doesn’t fit the current workplace.

4. Dissension

This is the phase where things start to boil over as raised expectations don’t align with workplace practices.

There is a sense of all talk and no walk – easiest to be seen through quarreling, grievances, complaints, cynicism, and things become political to a point of almost antagonism combined with bullying or harassment comments.

There’s a significant erosion of trust and respect so that the crisis is not addressed, impacting their own families, health.

Leadership response:

  • Frustration with the dysfunction is increasing so another course may be on Team Building, Conflict Resolution…also known as “Transfer of Information”.
  • Perhaps distancing yourself from people because you’re tired of feeling beaten up and judged.
  • You know in your gut or intuition there’s got to be a better way instead of just doing the same things over.
  • You have less time or interest to build relationships at work.
  • You are constantly exhausted or stressed but can never do enough, yet you’re never allowed to do anything differently.
  • Maybe some of your home lives are now at the breaking point as there is nothing left for the ones you love who are there.

Are you juggling chainsaws…?

During my sessions with leaders, they tell me it feels like they are juggling running chainsaws…

…chainsaws like engagement, performance, grievances, medical leave, turnover, costs…

But here’s what we know about the cost of poor crisis management:

  • PH&S costs the Canadian economy $51 billion per year.
  • Any given week, 500,000 employed Canadians unable to work due to MH issues.
  • The most common mental health issues – depression and anxiety – cost business $49 billion/year.
  • Employee Assistance Plan and private insurance premiums cost upwards of $19.8 billion.

These figures don’t even consider sick days, presenteeism, workplace accidents caused by mental health issues…

To create a healthy workplace, you must leverage the crisis response. This means…

  • A crisis intervention plan in which people are cared for because it is the right thing to do, which results in people caring for the workplace and lowered costs
  • The right people are in the right places – for the right reasons
  • The motivation and focus is about trust, leadership, and culture, which results in increased engagement, lowered workplace, and sick-care costs
  • Crisis reactions are cared for – ironically moving people to a deeper level of engagement and energy
  • Strengthened “encouragability approach” through leaders that people want to follow

The key is to adjust your TCR – Traditional Crisis Response.

You need something I call SHIFTRAP, an acronym that describes a series of chess pieces that absolutely have to be in place to make the state of “thriving” sustainable.

If you want to learn about those chess pieces, contact me. With my help, you can…

  • Transform your traditional crisis response so that a crisis is leveraged into an opportunity to get you into a state of thriving
  • Implement this SHIFTRAP framework company-wide to keep everyone in a state of thriving

As the leader, the process has to begin with you…so let’s get started!

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