A Personal 8-Point Manager Manifesto During Economic Mayhem
Here is a brief manifesto for managers during the current state of economic mayhem.
Expect disengagement. People are concerned for their finances, their jobs, their work and their organizations. You should expect temporary acute spells of disengagement as people experience fears, worry, and uncertainty. As you see or hear people disengage from work stop and connect with them. Talk about what is going on and most of all: LISTEN.
Include yourself in the points made above. You are human first and a manager second. You will experience your own uncertainties and possible disengagement. You are not Superman or Superwoman and things are not super right now anyway. Be mindful or your own reactions and emotions and stay connected to your own sources of support: peers, friends, coach, etc.
Look for loss and give it voice. This is a significant economic change with a wide variety of personal, social, and economic impacts. Think through what people are losing or possibly losing and ensure that you attend to those loses. William Bridges, the quintessential author on change, once stated that the biggest failure of organizations to manage change was the failure to acknowledge who was losing what because of the change. We move through losses by acknowledgment, acceptance, and authentic actions not by pretending it is business as usual.
Engage fully in your work as a powerful antidote to fear. Engagement in work, even when we don’t feel like it, can give you focus and a feeling of contribution. You and your organization need full engagement right now and chronic disengagement will only exacerbate the current challenges. We can control our level of engagement and our responses to uncertainty…we cannot control the economy!
Eliminate Pollyanna positive thinking now. I never cared for statements such as, “when life throws you a lemon make lemonade.” When life throws me a lemon I duck. Then I get back up and figure out what to do. This is a time for authentic, and heartfelt leadership that is constructive not naive or blind. There may be a need for tough actions and behaviors that require a lot of courage and gumption on your part.
Practice authentic optimism. Martin Seligman, the former president of the American Psychological Association, taught us that optimists see the glass as half empty. Optimists believe there are bad events. Real optimists are careful when they see a bad event in not believing it will be permanent, pervasive and personal. Yes, there are probably actions you could have taken sooner but you are hardly personally responsible for the economic downturn. The impact may not be as pervasive as you think and if we know one thing about economics is that whether it is going up or going down it is never permanent. When an optimist assess a bad event they tend to see it as temporary, specific, and not their fault. If you are sinking into a financial funk, I recommend you study Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism.
Upturn your resilience to balance the economic downturn. Resiliency is your ability to adaptat to challenging or threatening circumstances. Refine and enhance your problem solving, communication, leadership, self awareness, creativity, interpersonal, social, and emotional skills. As Micheal Jordan said, Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall (or Wall Street) , don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
Laugh to last. Don’t lose your sense of humor and ensure when you engage in humor that it is respectful. If you can laugh, you can last. Charlie Chaplin once said, “life is a tragedy in close up and a comedy in long shot.” Don’t take too long to get a long shot or to see the humor of the situation while still acknowledging the challenges, problems, and obstacles ahead. The gravity of the situation can bring you down but levity can bring you back up.
Adversity has the potential to isolate or create connections. Stay composed and connected, and remember: If it is to be, it is up to we.
Photo Credit: Mayhem by http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianscott/127156608/