For years, Family Friendly New Mexico (FFNM) has been supporting businesses that adopt and implement family friendly policies, like paid leave, flexible scheduling (including working from home!). Now, while we are all navigating this health pandemic, these tools and policies are more important than ever.
There is something else FFNM has been doing — cultivating leadership. We see the champions out there, fighting for their employees. We see HR managers being creative in how they manage profit expectations and productivity with employee success and well-being. We support peer education for managers and leaders so they can learn from one another.
Now, we are doubling down on our effort to support managers and leaders of family friendly businesses as stress levels reach new highs and the reality of the long term effects of Covid-19 are realized. If our managers and leaders are not healthy and supported, they will not be able to maintain the level of energy and focus needed for the long-term. As the lines between personal and professional are blurred, it’s important to incorporate new ways of being in our professional lives. Consider these four quick tips to manage stress: develop empathy, be realistic about what you can control, identify opportunities, and look forward.
(1) Develop Empathy
You may already practice empathy, but it is something worth reviewing and recommitting to. It’s important to develop the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, empathizing with others. Learn as much as possible about them and their situation. Ask yourself, what if that was me? How would I want to be supported? Let them know you understand their situation. You may not be able to fix all the problems but you can let people know you understand their particular problem and let them know what you are doing or can do to help.
(2) Be realistic about what you can control
Divide all your challenges into two columns — what you can control and what you can’t. If you have no influence over the outcome of the particular challenge, then it goes in the “can’t control” column. For example, you can do everything possible to keep your employees healthy, such as providing masks and hand sanitizer, but you cannot control if or when they end up getting sick and how many may need to stay home from work. Another example is applying for financial assistance. You can educate yourself, apply for various loans and grants by the deadlines, but you cannot control whether you receive the funds. Knowing and accepting where to let go of the outcome will help reduce your anxiety. You can plan for each scenario but you may not be able to predict or influence the results.
(3) Identify Opportunity
In any challenging situation, there is always an opportunity. What is the opportunity for you? And what can you learn? Maybe your business has been needing to work on building an online presence, this is the perfect time to do that. You may be managing a moving target and this is exactly when to ask yourself — how can this become an opportunity for growth? What can I learn? Or your business may be closed and you are trying to figure out how to keep your staff. These are difficult decisions that require a growth mindset, not a fixed one.
(4) Look forward
On a personal level, identifying one thing you are looking forward to can really help in times of crisis. For example, I look forward to our family walk every evening at sunset. You can also apply this to your business. If you are pivoting and offering new services, or if you are navigating new stay-at-home orders in multiple states, what is one thing you and your staff can look forward to? Set small, achievable goals and celebrate them.
Leadership is not one size fits all. It is something you develop and cultivate based on your experience and expertise. Being open to learning and growing is the sign of a great leader. Our Family Friendly New Mexico community is filled with great leaders who are stepping up during these challenging times and we are here to support you.
About the author:
Giovanna is a leadership consultant and results coach with 20+ years working with entrepreneurs, government and non-profits to improve the lives of women and families. She holds a Master of Science degree in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and is the founder of the Family Friendly Business Award® and host of The Well Woman Show on KUNM and NPR.