While many leaders and managers are still trying to make sense of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, the emotional toll on certain employees is almost impossible to calculate.
I was recently conducting a series of team building workshops for a hospital in the Jersey shore area, and it became immediately clear that the managers and leaders in this organization were consumed by a variety of challenges that some of us in other parts of the state haven’t faced.
In this one hospital, while over 40 employees lost their homes, others’ homes are uninhabitable. The economy of the Jersey shore area has been severely affected, which in turn impacts the ability of an organization to communicate and conduct business in a “normal” fashion with customers, clients and prospects.
Further, many employees in certain organizations in the hardest hit areas still have family members living with them, or themselves are living in homes not their own. Simply put, there are a whole range of unique leadership and communication challenges that will remain for months, if not years, to come as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Yet, there is an opportunity for enterprising and engaged leaders to facilitate a meaningful conversation with key team members hardest hit by the storm in an effort to allow the airing out of emotions, feelings and frustration. Further, such dialogue is also a chance to recognize amazing acts of kindness, support, collegiality and sacrifice on the part of team members and colleagues. If as a team leader you are so-inclined to gather the troops and hold such a meeting, the following questions should help you facilitate this important and timely discussion.
--What impact has Hurricane Sandy had on your approach to leading and managing your team? How is this different from your approach pre-Sandy?
--What has been the greatest affect of the storm on you, both as an individual and as a member of our team?
--What has been the most difficult part of Hurricane Sandy that has adversely influenced your ability to be at your best here on the job? What can we do as an organization to help you in the near future?
--What are some of the most positive or inspiring acts of compassion, support and kindness that you have seen on the part of a team member or our organization as a whole?
--As a leader or manager, what do you think the most significant personal and emotional toll has been for your people on the front lines? How can YOU make a difference in the lives of those folks?
--(If you are part of a sales team.) Given that we need to go back into the marketplace and “sell” at some point, what specifically can our organization do to help you as sales reps deal with clients and prospects whose lives have been disrupted and potentially turned upside down?
--As team members, what specifically do you feel we need to do as an organization to help our co-workers whose lives were most severely affected by the storm?
--Finally, since very few of us anticipated such extreme devastation as a result of this storm, what could or should we have done differently as an organization—what’s the biggest lesson YOU feel we should take away from Hurricane Sandy in case we ever have to face something this devastating in the future?
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with how your organization has dealt with these challenging leadership questions post-Sandy.