Do you feel like you’ve gone backwards?

4th August 2020

Now that we move into a different phase of CV-19, are you noticing a different vibe in the team?

Lots of the managers I’ve spoken to recently describe a definite dip in morale and motivation in their teams.

In this brilliant article Corporate psychologist Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, describes the three key phases that we experience when we’re living through a crisis like CV-19.

She describes the stages as Emergency, Regression and Recovery. Perhaps at the start of lockdown you noticed an upsurge in energy and focus as people in your team pulled together. The initial crisis galvanised people into action, there was a shared sense of purpose and productivity was high. That’s typical of the Emergency stage.

Cut to a couple of months down the line and there’s a distinct change of vibe. People seem battle weary. There’s backbiting and conflict. Even straightforward day-to-day business challenges can seem insurmountable. This is typical of the Regression stage and whilst it can feel like a backward step, it’s considered as the stepping stone to the final Recovery stage of a crisis.

Getting through the regression phase – opening up about emotions.

With everything that has happened in the intervening months, it’s important for you to be able to provide a time and place for people to talk about what’s happening for them. Even the most resilient team members probably need some time to be honest about their state of mind and how they’re doing REALLY.

One way of doing that is to use a a template like the one below. The word ‘arousal’ is a way of describing the levels of emotional heat that people might be feeling right now.

Hyper arousal (the amber zone) is a level of high alert and and we feel anxious, stressed, panicked and under pressure. We can’t think straight and we’re probably not acting rationally and deliberately.

On the other end of the scale, Hypo arousal (the red zone) is feeling low energy, low mood and perhaps drained and exhausted. Too far into this arena and we’re feeling helpless, hopeless and most likely completely overwhelmed by whatever is going on around us.

The Window of tolerance (the green zone) is when we’re feeling safe, social, switched on and able to perform at our optimum. There may be a sense of pressure or stress here, but it feels manageable and drives us to be the best version of ourselves.

Using this idea in practice

There are a number of different ways that you could use this. However, here’s some suggestions if you need some inspiration;

  • Invite each team member to describe where they are currently i.e. green, yellow or red and what’s prompting or triggering that.
  • Revisit the idea as part of each team meeting to gauge the ‘mood in room.’ You could then discuss the what is impacting energy levels. This will help the team to recognise the actions they can take to stay within the green zone.
  • Done individually and tracked over time this can help people to understand the triggers that impact energy levels. Knowing the factors that drag us into amber or red, helps us to identify what can be done do to get back into the green zone.

There’s just so much that you can do with this. If you take the time to open up the conversation, you need to be able to listen well; seek to understand and empathise with what’s being said. But more on that another day!!

I hope that’s useful and that it enables you and your team to talk about what’s happening. More importantly understanding energy levels will enable the team to identify what needs to be done to maintain the optimal level of energy that’s needed to get the job done.

If you would like an A4 version of this to use this for yourself or your team, please drop me a message.

Of course, it goes without saying – if you’d like any help with this for yourself or your team, you know where I am!!