Katie Wilde on supporting your team's mental health

Lead Time Chats: Season 1, Episode 9 Takeaways

In Episode 9 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Katie Wilde, VP of Engineering at Buffer and co-author of "The Holloway Guide to Remote Work," about supporting your team's mental health — and your own — in what feels like this final pandemic stretch.

Jean and Katie discuss:

  • The difficulty of sitting with a sense of hope, and how this last stretch can actually seem more intolerable than the last year in a pandemic
  • Debugging when you’re feeling out of whack at work with the BICEPS framework
  • Zoom fatigue and why Kate suggests you might consider lying down on a couch for your next 1:1!
  • Work-appropriate ways to start conversations about mental health, including stoplight (red/yellow/green) check-ins
  • How managers can ensure they have emotional support through external or internal peer or professional support.
  • Unconventional ways to find social connection in a pandemic — i.e. internet friends!

Takeaways from Katie

For some, stoicism has been a necessary survival tool this past year

“I watched a Star Trek episode where somebody had been trapped on a planet for seven years and the quote was, well "hope is the enemy." Once you give up all hope and just embrace your situation, it's easier to deal with. It's a very stoic philosophy idea. And for a lot of us that might've been how we've been getting through the pandemic.

Like this is the new normal, let's just get through this. And now that the end is in sight, every additional day can feel really intolerable.”

Return to pre-pandemic norms can be anxiety-inducing

“The other interesting thing which I've experienced myself and I've heard from a couple other people is almost... I don't know if this is the right way to phrase it, but almost a bit of a Stockholm syndrome with the pandemic where there's an anxiety or a fear around the pandemic ending and what that means, or whether it's going back into an office, going back to a faster pace of life, going back to travel. 2019 I spent about a third of jet lagged and there's a part of me that has a real anxiety around having to make choices now, where I had a year where so many choices were removed. And for some people, a lack of choice is really challenging, whereas I found it quite soothing in a lot of ways. So it's really interesting how different people are being affected in these different ways.”

Use the BICEPS framework to debug yourself

“One of the things that I always quite enjoy with any kind of messy human emotions, mental health conversations is the BICEPS framework. So Paloma Medina has this workable framework of the core human needs that we have. And what I would really recommend for managers to do for yourselves first is go through and figure out, of those core needs... belonging, improvement or progress, choice, equality and fairness, predictability, and significance or status. Of those needs, which is the one that right now is feeling out of whack for you? Is it a sense of improvement or progress? In that case, what can you do about that? Can you sign up to run a half marathon and make some improvement there? Is it a sense of predictability?”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

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S1 E9: Katie Wilde on supporting your team's mental health
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