Crisis Mode or Crisis Management: Which Do You Choose?
At about 8 weeks into the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States, we are nowhere near the end. At this point, we’re hopefully somewhere near the middle of the virus scare itself. Of course, the economic, social, educational, and emotional impact will surely be felt for years to come.
This event has been like no other – it’s been said many times most people alive have never experienced a pandemic of this level. How we respond could set the trajectory of how we recover in the months and years ahead.
Will we choose crisis mode? Crisis management? Something in between? Let’s start by taking a look at what we’ve learned so far.
COVID-19 Has Shown Us:
- Nothing is guaranteed. Well, except death and taxes, right?! I know, I know, not funny when people are dying and taxes aren’t being collected, but I couldn’t resist. But seriously, we are all grieving the simple things like walking aimlessly through a store or not being afraid to see our parents (yes, even our in-laws).
- Communications require grace. We started this social distancing journey talking about how things weren’t much different for us. “We’ve always worked from home,” we said. “We’re a group of introverts who prefer it this way.” That’s not entirely true.
Okay, yes, we are (mostly) a group of introverts that likes to work from home, but this is not working from home like we’ve ever known it. You see, working remotely doesn’t mean working in a vacuum. We’re still impacted by everything coming at us and so is every other person, but now there’s no one to share it with at the water cooler, so it builds up and comes out in tense emails and messages.
- Social Media is essential. Remember the days when people were cursing Facebook and jumping ship? That all changed in 2020. For better or worse, scrolling and video views are higher than ever, plus now our kids have joined us. If you haven’t given in to Kids Messenger yet, bravo! You’re stronger than the rest of us who could find no better way to give our school aged children peer connections.
This list of learning will change and hopefully grow (in a positive way) as we continue to establish some sort of “new” normal.
What’s Already Changed in the Short Term
- What happened to the luxury of time?! – I know, you might be thinking that we have all kinds of time (unless your kids are now home 24/7), right? Yet it seems that almost overnight, we lost our ability to be proactive and to think before we speak (or type). Instead, we all wait impatiently at our keyboards for instant replies as we wonder what’s taking so long. And every anxious minute seems to increase the likelihood of responding in a way we wouldn’t have 3 months ago. We probably feel the impact of this new reality the hardest as we continue to support smart people that are trying to do more with less.
- Sense of stability, where are you? Our economy is based on consumer confidence – and that confidence has been swept out from under us. The only thing that feels certain right now is that we have no idea what next week or next month (or even tomorrow) holds. Most of us are facing job, income, and/or health insecurities, just to name a few.
- The luxury of resources – People everywhere, from all walks of life, are pinching their pennies, and with good reason. Even essentials (such as bread, milk, and toilet paper) are in high demand and short supply, and for the first time, many of us are still getting used to the fact that we can no longer buy what we want, when we want it.
A new era of high insecurities and widespread stay-at-home orders coupled with massive layoffs and closures has combined into a perfect storm that has brought discretionary spending to a screeching halt worldwide. It is a painful time.
Yet, the reality is that even when we focus on our failures, we still have so much more to be grateful for.
It Isn’t All About Loss. Here’s What We’ve Gained So Far:
- Talent Abounds! If you’re hiring right now, there are people looking for work! And if you’re looking for work right now, now is a great time to leverage and to improve upon your talents and skillset! Plus, many of us are learning torecognize the tremendous importance of all the people who are tirelessly (and selflessly) putting themselves out there to work on the front lines.
- Tech savvy. If you didn’t know how to video conference before March 2020, you probably do now. Zoom, once a tool for business meetings & collaboration, has rapidly become a household name. This has had a wide-ranging, substantial impact on our everything from how education is delivered to the ways we do business (and even, how we interact with others).
- Hello, Family Time. So have your kids expressed their sheer delight at the opportunity to spend an extended period of time locked down at home with you? I know mine sure have (NOT!). But what we are seeing is the return of family dinners and game nights as we spend more time at home. Many of us are interacting with our kids in new ways, and for a lot of us, this has been a chance to get to know our kids a little better (just a little ;-)).
Here’s What Makes Us Thankful. What Are You Grateful For?
- Faith. Granted, this is not usually a topic you see included in a business blog, but these are not ‘business as usual’ times. For many of us, it’s our faith that is holding us together as a team and as individuals. We hope that everyone can experience the same in some form.
- Technology. Like most people, we’re praising the technology that we hold near and dear right now as our means of communication, income, and information. Imagine how very different things would be if this event had occurred even 20 years ago…
- Experience. As we reflect, we are grateful to be a seasoned business that has experienced both failure and success. We’ve been able to build truly great relationships that stand the test of time, and to have developed a supportive team that brings it all together. We are small but mighty!
10 Tips to Navigating Stressful, Uncertain Times
This environment of tight turnarounds and ever-changing policies can send us all spinning, wondering when it will stop, and where we will land.
It may feel like we’re completely powerless, and even hearing the phrase that we “have a choice” can feel cliché. Yet, we can choose how we respond. Here are some tips that we hope you’ll find helpful:
- Be grateful for what you have. Practicing gratitude isn’t just feel-good stuff – it’s proven to have positive effects.
- Think before you speak (or write, or text, or message).
- Be kind and extend an extra helping of grace to those around you (physically or digitally), with the assumption that they are under at least as much stress as you are.
- Before judging other’s views or decisions, try having a conversation and learning about another viewpoint.
- Don’t have anything nice to say? Don’t say anything at all. At times, no response can speak for itself and may give you less to regret in the long run.
- Show some respect – to everyone. You may be feeling very burdened & stressed right now – but so is everyone else.
- Check in on neighbors, friends, and family. Especially in the new era of social distancing, sending a thoughtful note or making a quick call can have a positive impact on someone else’s day.
- Disengage from unproductive and/or negative conversations. No one needs any more negativity right now. Sometimes, it really is best to simply walk away or keep scrolling.
- Practice self-care. This is another topic many people are tired of hearing. Think about it this way: when you’re depleted, you can’t give from an empty cup. Even sneaking a few minutes out for yourself several times a day can make a difference.
- Treat others how you wish to be treated – it’s the golden rule for a reason!
- If you’re a small business in trouble, take the time to look into the assistance that is designed to help
Stress and anxiety can have a negative or positive spiral. When we act or speak out of stress or fear, the outcomes are not usually positive…or intended. Before you simply react next time, think about the lasting impacts your behavior might have upon that other person, your relationship, and yes, even on you.
Looking Ahead, We Hope That…
- 2020 will come in like a lion and out like a lamb
- We will find a way to settle into a new social and emotional equilibrium sooner rather than later, for all of our sanity
- Like other disasters throughout history, this will unite us and spur amazing new innovation
‘We’re all in this together’ is a sentiment uttered often these days. Whether you agree with that or not, there’s no arguing it’s certainly not business (or life) as usual. There’s nothing usual or normal about what we have been facing for the past eight (or more) weeks. Actually, who’s even counting anymore? All the homeschooling parents out there, that’s who!
We’ve all heard that you get what you give and you reap what you sow. So today, think about what you aspire to give (and reap) when times are tough – and it matters most?
What do you choose? Stuck in crisis mode? Or are you so ready to be a boss and shift to crisis management as you think about a path forward? Share how you’re coping in these times & what advice you have to rise above.