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COVID-19 Resilience Tips: Leading your Best in the Worst of Times

Guest contributor Alyson VanAhn, PhD, Associated Clinic of Psychology

The COVID-19 era has made life exponentially more challenging for all of us. This may be particularly true for those of you who are charged with keeping others at their best in a workplace that brings chronic stress. Today’s focus is on resilience-building/stress-reducing strategies for leaders who want to build up their teams and themselves—even when not feeling at their best. This is the first in a series of articles that will focus on resilience strategies leaders can share with their teams to improve quality of work life despite the ongoing pandemic and the stressors that come with it.

People and teams can perform better, sustain stress for longer, and be more productive as well as more satisfied when they have positive relationships—especially with their managers and leaders.

So how do you enhance relationships to build resilience when you are also feeling stress? The following are a few ways to gently support team members even when you are struggling yourself. This week, our focus is on the first step—acknowledging these are difficult times and communicating this for validation as well as team cohesion during this crisis.

  1. Get some immediate stress relief for yourself: walk, stretch, breathe deeply, smile even if it’s difficult, etc.
  2. Identify your own, appropriate consultant/peer to go to for support during this time.
  3. Acknowledge to yourself and the team that this is a trying time, you are aware everyone is making sacrifices and having their own stressors—even outside of work.
  4. Encourage team members to communicate with you about anything they feel makes it more difficult to complete their roles.
  5. Prompt communication about what is going well.
  6. Praise people for “looking out for each other” and set up team members to feel comfortable coming to each other and to you if they see someone is struggling (with stress, their tasks/roles, etc.)
  7. Acknowledge that even leaders have moments that are difficult (e.g., on the job, in work/life balance, etc.) and share your hope that “we are in this together” against COVID versus each other.
  8. Start constructive criticisms or corrections with validating the difficulty of this time and reiterating the value of the team member.

For further information and evidence-based tips on teambuilding during crisis click here.

In addition, LeadingAge Minnesota’s COVID-19 Staff Coping & Support Line number is 612-445-8656 or email covidsupport@acp-mn.com. This free service is open to any staff or leader to schedule a 20-minute coaching call. A professionally trained coach from the Associated Clinic of Psychology will listen to a caller’s concerns and help them create a coping roadmap for stress relief. There is no cost for this program thanks to the support of the LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation and DHS grant funding.

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