Monday, April 13, 2020

3 Ways You Can Make a Difference During the Pandemic

Right now, everyone has to step up.

That's my mantra -- I've got to step up. Whether it's in my community, in my own family or in my job, I've got to do more. I can't be sitting by, working puzzles, watching "Tiger King" and and thinking someone else will do what needs to be done.

I don't think this has to be huge. Maybe you check on a neighbor regularly and re-learn algebra so you can help your kid with math assignments. But it also means that we're all leaders now -- and that especially includes on the job.

For example, there are a lot of books and articles about how to manage during a crisis and how to be a better leader. But you know what? We all need to be leaders now. No one gets to stand by and wait on those "who get paid to do it."

Here's what I'm suggesting, based on some research from crisis leadership experts:

1. Check in. Just as you say "Are you OK?" to your friends and family members during this time, make sure you're checking in with colleagues -- and even your boss. Just asking "How are things going?" can make a huge difference when a colleague is struggling to get work done from home or figure out how to solve a work problem. Ask questions and then listen. It could be that a co-worker or your manager just need a sounding board to work through an issue. Remember: These are things you might have done without thinking in an office setting, but isn't being done as we all stay home. This can also be an advantage for you, as we all search for a way to do something to help someone else. Just being a friendly ear can reduce a lot of anxiety for someone else and help you feel better, too.

2. Be straightforward. Have you ever tried to work with three kids underfoot or after being alone in your home for more than two weeks with no one to talk to? It's tough. It can be depressing and stressful. Now is the time to make sure you're not adding to those issues by not communicating clearly. Before you fire off that email or IM, make sure you're expressing yourself concisely and clearly. If you exchange more than a couple of messages about an issue, jump on the phone with the other person. Not only will this reduce stressful, confusing messages, but it can be good for your emotional state to connect with another voice.

3. Look to the future. Eventually, this pandemic will pass. Don't stay in panic mode by only thinking about how you're going to get through the day or week. If there's a project you've been thinking about, something that will be sort of fun or exciting, then it's OK to think about it and even start planning for it. Your colleagues may appreciate talking about something that isn't geared completely around COVID-19.

As I said earlier, I think we all have to step up. We may not be fighting the disease in a hospital alongside our brave healthcare workers, but we can make a difference in how we deal with one another in the workplace. That can go a long way to helping us all heal.

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