As leaders and teammates, we spend a lot of time with our coworkers. And as the stress heats up from the election (and the pandemic, storms, and wildfires), it’s up to us to support one another.
Here are a few simple tips for helping your team cope during the ups and downs of the election news cycle.
1. Acknowledge what’s happening
For many of us, work can be a welcome distraction — a place where we aren’t doom scrolling or pondering the end of democracy. But that doesn’t mean the news isn’t on our minds. It’s natural to worry that bringing up bad news might make it worse, but in reality, your team is already thinking about it. By openly discussing what’s going on and the impact it has on you, your team will feel more comfortable being open themselves.
Expressing emotions is often a powerful step towards processing and moving on. Whether it’s in 1:1s or meetings, try to encourage open sharing of how people are experiencing the election. Don’t force anyone to speak, but rather role model vulnerability and sharing yourself. Consider opening meetings with opening rounds or even a space for people to share their worst fears about what’s going on.
Expressing the emotions helps remove them as a distraction—at least temporarily. And so it might seem counterintuitive, but by giving people time and space to express how they’re doing, the team will likely be more effective at their work too.
2. Embrace flexibility
Everyone reacts to stress differently. Some folks want to work more, distracting themselves with projects and extra hours. Other people have trouble focusing, making work more difficult.
As a leader, you can normalize both of these reactions and encourage teammates to do what works for them. For some, you might suggest taking time off or making sure to take breaks during the day. For others, you might find extra projects that they can pour themselves into without burning out.
If you’re not sure what someone needs, observe them, ask questions in 1:1s, and sense and react. Each person’s needs may also change — shifting from wanting a distraction to needing a break within the same week. Try to avoid shaming or saying things like “but we really need to...” Instead, listen to what the team needs and try to provide it.
It may seem like a sacrifice of team productivity, but this level of support is what leads to loyalty and true engagement, creating a more effective team over time.
3. Create joy
One of the most powerful things you can do for your team is to create space for positivity and joy. While the world around us may be tumultuous, work can be a place for stability and even humor.
Find ways to encourage silliness and play. Organize virtual game times—our team loves Scribbl.io and Sporcle. It’s October, so take advantage of Halloween and the excuse for costumes and candy. Create moments for movement with virtual yoga classes or group workout pacts.
It may sound trivial, but play is one of the most powerful tools in combating the long term effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Finally, make a plan for election week
In advance of election week, make a plan. At Range, we’re...
- Taking Election Day off so teammates can vote, help get out the vote, or take other actions.
- Scheduling Wednesday as a no meeting day — we expect that to be an intense day for the news, so we know folks will be distracted.
- Scheduling an all-hands on Thursday to help us get back in sync and process anything going on together.
In addition, we’ve asked each teammate to make their own plan—do they want to take the whole week off to campaign for candidates? Do they want to work like normal? Do they want to play it by ear? Either way, we’ve asked them to let their teammates know and scope their projects accordingly.
Many things are outside of our control in 2020, but how we show up for one another at work isn’t. If you’re not sure where to get started, consider simply asking a teammate how they’re dealing with the stress of the election in your next 1:1.