30. How to Support Your Team Post Election

About this Podcast

Biden won the race but the election-related anxiety and the stress won’t dissipate as political conversations, disputes, and POTUS tweets will continue to dominate the news cycles.

Plus, for many people, their attention is partially moving away from work and into social media and news outlets to try to stay up-to-date.

As leaders, this is a time when thoughtful communication is key.

In this episode, I’m sharing 5 specific suggestions for how to best support and communicate with your team as emotions continue to run high and tension might be felt between people with opposing political views.

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  1. How to Support Your Team Post-Election

Welcome to another episode of The Manager Track podcast. I’m excited and thrilled that you’re here. Now a quick note up front, I was planning on releasing an episode about how to navigate conflict at work on November 10th in 2020.

[00:00:32]But as I woke up this morning, I thought that for those people in the audience, in the US I want to actually talk about how to support your team members during this post-election time. And as I was sitting down and I was putting my thoughts onto paper, It was about nine o’clock Pacific time. And all of a sudden I hear my neighbors howling.

[00:00:56] Now I’m out in California, a democratic state. And, I thought, Oh my God, I got to check the news. And here we go, we saw, an initial, at least in this initial result of Biden winning, which was interesting because I was literally just writing down my thoughts and, sort of an outline for this podcast episode.

[00:01:16] So that was where I’m at right now. And this is what I’m recording by the way. If you’re listening to this on a podcast platform, know that I record this video and I’m also posting this on my YouTube channel, which is Ramona Shaw Leadership Coaching, which you can find over there if you ever want to actually see me in my office record the episodes and head on over and subscribe to the channel to get future posts as well.

[00:01:41] But so here I am. And I’m also processing sort of my reaction and my emotions about all of this. And it actually emphasizes even more of why I think this episode is so important and why I want to share this with you. Because when I think of you as the audience here and any leader in an organization, whether they have a leader, title, or someone who sees and perceives themselves as a leader in the community and in the environment that they’re in, this is a time like any other sort of crisis or stressful time where leadership has to be your focus, like a key, be your to-do list. It can’t be any other project or task. It is showing up as a leader right now. That’s going to matter most. This is your biggest priority right now has to be top of your list. And there are different ways to go about it.

[00:02:37] And if you’re unintentional and reactive, you might be listening to this, and you’re sort of just reacting to the people and the conversations that you find yourself in. But what I want to encourage you to is to be intentional in how you are going to communicate with your team and how you’re addressing any challenging situation, but for right now, and for the purpose of this episode, we’re gonna talk about the political divide and, sort of distress and anxiety that the election has brought to people.

[00:03:07] So going deeper into this topic of stress and anxiety actually want to cite research from the American Psychological Association, which States that about in an average, two thirds of adults say that the 2020 election is a significant source of stress. And if I have to break it down 76% of the respondents who were Democrats said that it is a significant source of stress, 67% of the Republicans and 64% of independents, for my analytical minded, politically curious people.

[00:03:40] Now. this is also compounded by the pandemic, right, that has been going on for months now and there’s no clear end in sight, the racial injustice that we have witnessed, especially here in the US, but also worldwide, in California for us it’s wildfires, and so it is in other States and other countries and hurricanes and other natural disasters that have occurred in 2020 that added to the stress in people’s lives.

[00:04:10] So now we’re having on top of all that, we’re also dealing with this political situation and the election stress, which is really important is not ending, regardless of the results of how it looks like on Monday the ninth or the Tuesday to 10th, when this podcast gets released.

[00:04:30] This anxiety, this stress will continue and will last for weeks as this dispute will continue, the conversations will continue, anxinity is high so people’s attention is now moving away from, a part of that, is moving away from work and into social media and news outlets. And just trying to be up-to-date but also involved in any of that fuels any of what we’re seeing there in and hearing and what we’re thinking about it all fuels our emotions and our emotions are what fuels our actions and how we show up and feel at work.

[00:05:07] And so we cannot ignore the fact that we’re all human beings and the fact that the workplace is one of those places where human beings with hopefully a diverse background, and diverse set of perspectives and viewpoints come together and communicate and collaborate.

[00:05:27] The workplace is one of those places where really we’re not, we’re not dividing. It’s not a community. It’s not the state, necessarily, or the location or the religion. It’s not the family, it is where we all come together and we want to foster that diversity equity, and inclusion that is so important, especially, our always has been, but especially right now.

[00:05:50] So this is a pivotal moment in time, and we need to be aware of it as leaders and we have to be really intentional. So my goal for this episode is to provide you with a few clear suggestions and how to address the current situation with your team and then how to show up as the weeks go on and as the conversations continue.

[00:06:08]So one of the questions that you might have is Ramona, hold on a second. I thought we’re not supposed to talk politics at work. And yes, I do get that. And yes, for some people, this is an absolute no-go. This might be you. And it might be, it might not be you, but it might be someone on your team who says like, nope, we’re not talking about politics.

[00:06:26] I have a clear boundary here. I’m not participating in it and I don’t want to particularly hear it or be involved in it. And that is one part that we need to acknowledge; be this for ourselves or for others.

[00:06:38] But it also is not everyone. There’s no one size fits all. In fact, I’ve read research that stated that 57%. of employees said that they have engaged in political conversations, which means that more than half of people have, and this research was taking place way before the election. So in the current situation, there’s going to be a vast majority of people who are engaging in political conversations.

[00:07:04] So pretending like we’re not supposed to, or that it isn’t happening isn’t actually facing reality. And I’m all about eyes wide open. We are dealing with reality and not the should be, or could be. It also would mean that if you’re not addressing it, it really would mean that we’re having a big elephant in the room and we’re not looking at it.

[00:07:23] And that’s one of the things that is not what we want to do as leaders, as people who care for others as human beings would equal needs and not as object to just come to work clock in and clock out to deliver a task. That is no longer what works for leaders.

[00:07:43] We have to take the whole human being into account and their needs and their emotional state is all part of that.

[00:07:52] And as leaders, we want to bring our full selves to work as well. So speaking of bringing our full selves to work and dealing with the human beings and navigating and leading a group of human beings, the first and the most important point here is to lead with empathy and with vulnerability right now.

[00:08:15] And that starts off with you sharing your personal experience. And I’m not talking about your personal political view. I am talking about how you have felt through this process. You can share “Hey, look, this has been stressful for me. Something that I had anxiety and I had fear.” And this can be completely neutral of your own political opinion because the way the anxiety, the fear, the stress that spans across all political views, right?

[00:08:44] So you want to share from a vulnerable place and then be empathic with others and their experiences. And we all experienced this different dependent on our past experience, our own situation. For someone who is an immigrant, this may look very different than someone who has been in the US for generations.

[00:09:06] For someone who’s a minority group and has felt discriminated, for example. Over the past years, they may feel very different than someone who has not had that experience. For someone who has kids or girls, for example, for me, I have two girls and a boy, and for me to imagine that a woman becomes a VP is something that I want to highlight to my kids, regardless of the political view.

[00:09:30] Right? This is something that is meaningful to me. It’s part of how I experienced the current situation. And those are the things that you want to share from a vulnerable place of how you’ve experienced all this and what you’re dealing with and it’s been possibly a difficult time. Or that you care or worry, and that you want to provide support to people on your team.

[00:09:51] And then leading with this is the vulnerability part. Then leading with empathy is to really encourage for others who to feel that there’s a safe place. To share their emotional reaction. Again, I’m not talking about having a political conversation about facts or not facts and stories and all that, but I’m talking about the in the inner world and how that they have experienced that the recent weeks leading up to the election or the recent months, but now also how they’re going through this experience post-election.

[00:10:23] The second suggestion is to acknowledge it. So there’s one thing to share and then the second is really to acknowledge it and to speak it out loud, to make it explicit.

[00:10:33] When we speak to people’s fears and anxieties, we make them feel heard. So you don’t want to make an assumption to say like you are feeling stressed right now. And then some of the people on your team feel like no, I’m actually completely like not feeling stressed at all. And then you would start, we’d sort of exclude them.

[00:10:52] So you want to have inclusive communication, you use inclusive words to say you may feel fearful about the future. You may feel disappointed. You may feel excited. You may feel hopeful. You may feel like weight coming off your shoulder. You may feel more burdened. Like all of these experiences are what you’re possibly going through and by you vocalizing it and making it explicit in your communication, that is what acknowledges the experience that the people on your team have and makes them feel heard and understood.

[00:11:28] So you’re acknowledging and you’re validating and all this stuff. Part of being human and those emotions are all good and are all okay to feel and acknowledging that this is impacting how they show up at work and how they may be focused or productive at work during this time.

[00:11:44] It is acknowledging reality, and that is what’s so important. So that was the suggestion number two.

[00:11:52] Suggestion number three is to emphasize again that what mental health resources that your organization is offering. If you’re not sure, check in with your HR representative or HR team, where people should go. If they’re looking for some additional support in terms of mental health and dealing with stress, there’s tons of resources out there. But I want to really encourage you to leverage what your organization has already provided and is offering in terms of mental health. Don’t presume that because you feel happy or you feel okay with what’s going on right now that others are too. Regardless of other people feel about the results, whether this is in their favor, or it is not, simply having gone through the stressful experience was heightening the burdens than the loads that there were carrying in a time that we’re already seeing record high burnout rates, especially for women, but also for, for man, for parents non-parents, during this time. So this is just one other layer on top of it and emphasizing the resources in terms of mental health, really important.

[00:12:56] And then we’re moving to suggestion number four, which is probably the most important, which is to emphasize what you all have in common, especially if you’re dealing with a team where, you know, there is a big discrepancy on perspectives and viewpoints and that what people have hoped for to see in this election.

[00:13:17]You want to span across the diversity here and bring people back together of what is it that you have in common. This is where you want to pay close attention, to ground people on the common values, the common goals and objectives that you all have as a team. And you want to emphasize what unites you all, and saying it once is not going to be enough. This is something that you want to reiterate over and over and over again as this continues. This could be things such as, in honoring our value of being respectful in honoring our value for diversity, and in honoring our value vulnerability and creating a safe space, whatever those words are that you’ve seen, that you relate to, that your team will relate to because you know, these are shared values. That is what you want to really nurture and hone in with your team, because the workplace is a place where we want to bring those different perspectives together.

[00:14:17] And right now to focus on the common values is critical.

[00:14:21] And then the fifth suggestion is to model the behavior. When I say model behavior, I really mean that you are showing that you’re taking care of yourself and you make that explicit. You’re not hiding it. So if you are going for a walk during the day, because you feel like you need to clear out your head, or because you need a break, don’t hide that.

[00:14:42] Don’t pretend like you’re not doing it. You want to actually sort of demonstrate, hey, it’s okay to do this. And we say like, hey, I’m gonna check out for an hour. I need a break or I need some fresh air. I’ll be back and let people know it’s okay to do this or to say, hey, you know, I’m having, just a lot of thoughts and emotions going through my head and this is what I’m feeling today, and it’s going to influence how I show up just wanted to share. So you can share things that are going on for you model that behavior. And then most importantly model the values that you and your team have in common. So the suggestion number four was to emphasize those values and you want to model them. So if it is being respectful and it is being inclusive, and if it is to lead with empathy and compassion, or to have teamwork is a big value to really, really, demonstrate and role model this and make it as explicit as possible because you might think it’s obvious for others but they might not, especially working remotely, the things that you see and experience day in and day out, might not be what other people pick up on in a time like this.

[00:15:50] These are my five suggestions. I’m going to quickly repeat. Number one is to lead with vulnerability, and empathy, and to have a lead engage in the conversations that comes from a place of vulnerability and empathy.

[00:16:01] Number two is to acknowledge how other people feel and to express it, make it explicit, not as like factual, you are feeling a certain way, but to say you may feel, and then you address different emotions that people could be feeling on your team.

[00:16:16]Share resources in terms of mental health, for people who feel really stressed out who feel impact in terms of like their physical and their mental wellbeing. Emphasize your common values and the things that bring you together, that includes the goals and the vision and the mission that your organization or your team is pursuing.

[00:16:35] And then number five is to model the behavior. And I want to expand on this last thing before we conclude this episode. Which is for those of you who have kids right now, or young adults, other people who are influenced by your behaviors right now, they are looking at how you’re behaving even if you’re on the phone with a friend, if you’re having a conversation with the neighbor, the little ones, or not so little ones, are watching every move that you make right now. So I personally was making a statement last week that in retrospect, I regret, I made a statement sort of out of a real emotional reaction to a piece of news that I saw and my daughter was inquiring about it two days later in the car. And I realized that I set an example of how to respond to opposition, or to contradicting views. And I did this a little bit unconsciously and her asking me about it was a big reminder to be very, very careful right now because we’re teaching them right now, how to respond to people with different beliefs and different opinions and perspectives. So you watch yourself really carefully because what you’re doing right now and how you’re responding to it is setting the tone for that next generation that you are raising and that you are influencing.

[00:17:57] We can go into defense, we can go into judgment, we can go into I am right and your wrong, and I’m smart and you’re stupid. And I get it and you don’t. Or we can come from a place of here’s how I feel and I’m curious, and I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from and I’m asking questions and I’m showing like, hey, let’s inquire.

[00:18:18] Why would someone have a different opinion? Let’s address this? Why do you think someone like, if it’s 50-50 though, we’re almost at 50-50, if you look at the numbers, why would you think that 50% of the United States has a different opinion than what I feel or what my opinion is? Let’s inquire. Let’s be curious about it.

[00:18:37] And I don’t have to let go of my own beliefs, but I want to demonstrate curiosity and empathy with other people and then bring people together and really emphasize like, hey, we all really want the best for the United States. We all want to look at the bright future. We all want humanity here to be thriving.

[00:18:55] We want society to be thriving and to emphasize the common grounds. Not just in your workplace, but also at home as a mom of three kids. this is something that I’m currently really intentional about that I haven’t been intentional about in the past, cause my kids were too little to really understand what’s going on, but it’s coming to light for me.

[00:19:15] And I’ve definitely made mistakes over the past weeks that I learned from in the past. And at this moment, this is something that I think we all need to pay really close attention, to be very intentional about how we’re showing up during this time.

[00:19:28] Because people around us are watching us and as leaders at home and in the workplace, we sort of have that megaphone, right, that amplifies. Our words and amplifies our actions probably even more so. And the way we make others feel is how we influenced them most and how we will impact them most and how they remember us the most.

[00:19:49] So I hope this somewhat unplanned episode was I was helpful to you. And if you found this interesting and valuable, I would so appreciate if you shared it along, share the link to the video or share the link to the podcast episode with anyone else that you think should hear this and get the message and to spend some time in their day to prepare ahead and be ready for the conversations and the emotions that will continue post-election and want to know how to best support their team members. Also, if you like it, please give it a thumbs up, give it a five star review on iTunes. This is how I can spread this message further and to a larger group. I’m really here to serve and to, create a generation of leaders who lead with their hearts and their minds.

[00:20:35]And with that have a wonderful week. And I’ll see you next week in another episode of The Manager Track podcast.

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