Presentation on theme: "Leading During Dark Times"— Presentation transcript:
1Leading During Dark Times Cheryl Seybold, ITS/AISHR Mini-Conference, April 9, 2013
2The Calm Before the Storm I have a bit of experience in a couple of unit-based crisis situations, and I know that I was never trained on how one would handle the crisis, or even really thought about it until it was upon me – you pretty much go with gut feelings, cultural protocol, the help of others, and policy. There are so many things that you can (and will) do wrong, but so many that you can do right as well. It’s almost a “taboo” subject, because people do not like to think about such events.While this is a tough and dark topic, I’m hoping to help frame up the audience mindset, and maybe provide some tools available to apply in the event (hopefully unlikely) that it happened to them while they were leaders. It would be a very personal approach and response will be varied, depending upon your decisions as influenced within your own personal space. I’ll predicate the topic with “I’m not an expert in HR, but… ”
3Session Goals Dark Times Can … Share Management Experience Be PersonalBe InstitutionalAffect Your Staff and TeamShare Management ExperienceWhat Would You Do?Know Your Resources
4Dark Times Are… Real Requires Action In Your Management Role As a PersonIn Your Management RoleLogicReasoningPolicyEmotionCompassionEmpathy
5Shared Experience 3 minute individual “I” time, plus discussion Pass Out Post-it Notes. Set timer: Share experience with staff member “Marie” who asks to go to her former department office to console her best friend, who’s very close PSU co-worker has gone missing this morning – word from her friend is that her friend’s co-worker might be suicidal. “Marie” informs you that she will plan to take vacation time to do this, and is requesting to leave immediately.What 1-2 questions do you ask the staff member?Why do you ask those questions – what information are you gathering for your decision?What’s your answer (yes, go OR no, do not go) and why?Do you have any follow-up actions?DiscussionWhat did Cheryl do??Background assessment on “Marie” – quality staff member, has always done good work, known close ties to former office, ** shows good judgmentPersonal Question – Is this a close enough friend that you think your presence will help to calm – can you actually provide help? (Assume adult making this decision).Professional Question - Does anyone else in the office know about the situation, and would “Marie” be willing to stop by and talk to her friend’s supervisor, if she felt the situation warranted?YesFollow-up action – pick up phone and called the supervisor.
6Exercise What 1-2 questions do you ask the staff member? Why do you ask those questions – what information are you gathering for your decision?What’s your answer to the staff member (yes / no) and why?Pass Out Post-it Notes. Set timer: Share experience with staff member “Marie” who asks to go to her former department office to console her best friend, who’s very close PSU co-worker has gone missing this morning – word from her friend is that her friend’s co-worker might be suicidal. “Marie” informs you that she will plan to take vacation time to do this, and is requesting to leave immediately.What 1-2 questions do you ask the staff member?Why do you ask those questions – what information are you gathering for your decision?What’s your answer (yes, go OR no, do not go) and why?Do you have any follow-up actions?DiscussionWhat did Cheryl do??Background assessment on “Marie” – quality staff member, has always done good work, known close ties to former office, ** shows good judgmentPersonal Question – Is this a close enough friend that you think your presence will help to calm – can you actually provide help? (Assume adult making this decision).Professional Question - Does anyone else in the office know about the situation, and would “Marie” be willing to stop by and talk to her friend’s supervisor, if she felt the situation warranted?YesFollow-up action – pick up phone and called the supervisor.
7Learnings You may have limited time to make a decision Your staff members are adults and make adult decisionsThink about other players in the situationThink about safety issuesWhat is your follow-up?
9Shared ExperienceThe timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it. Mary Catherine BatesonPenn State News from State College, PA State College, PA - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University ... Xiaoping "Helen" He, 47, was killed in a car accident along U.S. Route3 minute all-group discussion – What Would You Do?Set timer: Share experience with staff member HelenHelen was a longtime staff member, who was part of a newly formed larger SWD groupShe battled breast cancer a year earlier, and came out in remissionThe cancer came back and ravaged her – but her attitude and approach to the disease was admirableShe supported recent organizational changeShe worked and contributed to production releases from homeWhen she was in the office, she would struggle – but would take brief walks when the sickness from treatment became unbearableShe was being treated at MSHMC shortly before her death.A staff member stopped by to let me know Helen had passed.Newspapers indicated suicide story – what was the story?DiscussionWhat would you be feeling emotionally?What actions would you need to undertake?What did Cheryl do??Personally lost an admired contributorProfessionallyMet with supervisor every day for a week, assisted with tasking transitionsMet with team – and talkedTook advice of a colleague and brought in grief counselingActed as liaison to her husbandCoordinated with other departments who had staff who worked with herAny staff member could attend her memorial (and I also went)Researched the cultural difference possibilityCollected gift funding and gave it to the familyCleaned out her personal belongings from her cubicleSupported Pink Zone fund organized by her team
10Staff and Team Distress Shock, horror, and disbeliefAnger at how this could happenMistrust in leadershipGuilt by associationNational scrutinyLoss of identityUnrelenting media attentionThreats and fears for safetyGossip and rumorsUncertainty about the futureJob insecurityHit to morale(Reference/reprinted with permission from : ITS Resilience Workshop, Oct 9, 2012, Dr. Kavita Avula)Kavita Avula, Psy.D.Kavita is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in suicidology, crisis and critical incident response, trauma, and group dynamics. She is committed to delivering services that promote effective cross-cultural adjustment and adaptation for humanitarian aid workers and study abroad students and faculty before, during and after going abroad. She conducts pre-departure and re-entry programming that is designed to bolster resiliency, prevent psychological deterioration, compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout while on assignment and facilitate successful re-integration upon returning home. Kavita currently serves as a consultant for KonTerra partner Greenleaf Integrative Strategies and trains USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan currently and the Civilian Response Corps foreign service officers previously in operational stress control for demanding environments. She has worked with individuals who are about to deploy to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, and Haiti, and provides in-mission support to these individuals via phone and Skype video.She currently works at The World Bank Personal & Work Stress Counseling Unit and is a consultant for the KonTerra Group and Greenleaf Integrative Strategies, firms that provide organizational and individual support to international aid organizations, and workers who are at risk for compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.Her most recent international field experience includes brief interventions in Kabul, Afghanistan and Ramallah, Palestine. Dr. Avula is a regular guest lecturer on cultural competence and suicide. She is currently co-authoring a book chapter on acculturation.
11Tools for Talking Communications in Times of Grief - Do’s: I think it will be important to take one day at a time.It is OK to feel upset or worried.I can relate to your anxiety about not knowing what the future holds.I’m also frustrated that I can’t give you more reassurance.This is a very stressful situation and if you can think of anything I can do to support you, do let me know.(Reference/reprinted with permission from : ITS Resilience Workshop, Oct 9, 2012, Dr. Kavita Avula)
12Tools for Approach Approaching the Distressed Employee Facilitate access to resourcesAsk “Are you talking to someone about this?”Express your concerns directly to the employee and focus on objective (indisputable) behaviors versus personality characteristicsLet the employee know that the issues they are discussing with you are not your area of expertiseEncourage the employee to call and make his or her own appointment(Reference/reprinted with permission from : ITS Resilience Workshop, Oct 9, 2012, Dr. Kavita Avula)Suggestion from a participant:
13Tools to Keep in Mind Communications in Times of Grief – Don’ts: Say “You need counseling” or “You really shouldn’t be able to work with your issues”Assume that the person cannot be treated for the mental health concern while continuing at workIgnore the issue or behaviorPromise privacy or to keep something secretAvoid talking directly to the employee about your observationsAssume that the employee is aware of your concernsBe intrusive and disrespect privacyOffer more help than you are willing to provideGossip or discuss any employee’s personal health with others(Reference/reprinted with permission from : ITS Resilience Workshop, Oct 9, 2012, Dr. Kavita Avula)
14Tools to Indicate When to Encourage Help-Seeking Behavior When you feel like you are doing more personal counseling than managingThe problems or requests made are outside the scope of your role with the employeeAfter some time and effort, you feel like you are not making progress in helping this employeeWhen you wonder if the employee is struggling psychologically(Reference/reprinted with permission from : ITS Resilience Workshop, Oct 9, 2012, Dr. Kavita Avula)
15Learnings You do not need to be a counselor Keep up with the news Listen to your staffGrant and Provide ResourcesFuneral flex timeArrange for counseling sessionAccept Help from Your PeersSupport Remembrance Efforts
16Shared Experience Safety situation with staff member Safety Situation – employee with anger issues reaches the end of normal reasoning, patience and process. It was time to take action because of threatening behavior.What’s your first Action?
17Learnings Address anger concerns early Listen to your staff Think about safety issuesUtilize your HR RepresentativeWhen would you make the call to act?Maintain Confidentiality
18Penn State Resources Your Manager or Supervisor Your Human Resources RepresentativePolicies: HR34 , HR16 and HR78University Police and Public Safety (911)University hotlines (includes Ethics Hotline)Employee Assistance Program ( )Counseling and Psychological Services ( )Employee Relations or Affirmative Action OfficeITS – April upcoming “HR Mini Conference” for managersPolicy HR34 EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS FOR STAFF EMPLOYEESPolicy HR16 LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITHOUT SALARY (OTHER THAN FOR ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE OR TRAINING)Policy HR78 STAFF EMPLOYEE FAILURE TO MEET ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCEHR Mini Conference topics:Hire Power- how to run a search committee and keeping Hiring legal Managing Employees with Personal problems Navigating HR-78 and employee performance issues Legal issues the supervisory staff should be aware of
20Shared Group Response Personal Question to Staff Member Assess – is this person over-reacting?Assess – will this make the situation worse if the staff member goes to the friend’s office?Assess – is this a repeating pattern from this staff member?Have you talked to your HR Rep? Let’s go talk to him/her now, I’ll go with you.How are you feeling, are you ok enough to go?You’re a good friend
21Shared Group Response Supervisory Question Follow-up Do you know if anything has been done to find the person?Have the police been notified? (What about the family?)Can I contact the concerned person?Please call me if you need anything at all. Is there anything I can do for you?Do you have any immediate tasks or loose ends here at the office?Where can I reach you in case of emergency here?Would you be willing to involve the person’s HR Department?When can I expect that you’ll return to the office? How much time do you need?Would you mind if I contacted the person’s supervisor?When will you return to work?Follow-upPlease check back in with me every “X” of hours, I’d like to know if you’re ok, and how the situation is.Keep me informedAnswer to the Staff Member = “Yes” and “No”
22Shared Group Response - Death Sadness, disbelief, grief, loss, happiness that suffering is over, anger, confusionRemember that people grieve differently/different timeframesGive yourself “space and time" for your own emotional controlIdentify close office "friends“Official confirmation of eventsConsider where and how to informConsider organizational communication of information (per family preference, memorial service info, etc.)Contact EAP or grief counseling servicesKeep abreast of the newsAfter initial shock, establish POC for family - funeral - department support (flowers/cards)Make accommodations for staff to attend services/memorialsIdentify staff that may not be dealing with the loss as well as others
23Shared Group Response - Threat Notify Police Services/HRDocument verbal reportsEnsure you are aware of policyDeal with safety concerns of othersAddress access to PSU resourcesRevisit policies to improve safety