People all around us are slowly but positively coming around to terms that COVID 19 a pandemic spreading across. The news on TV is full of the analysis of the pandemic with everyone wondering when this would get over.
Hotels, Malls, Cinema theatres are yet to open their doors to Customers. In some cities where the COVID cases are under control, the Malls and Hotels have partially opened and seem to have taken adequate care for hygiene and safety of all.
The unemployment statistics gave everyone a sense of worry and the families had to support extensively in dealing with anxiety and disturbed state of mind. Everyone seemed to give a different opinion in general but nothing specific with most of it was left to “Let’s See, What’s next”.
The learning curve of the young Indian shot up with everyone investing time in reskilling in one way or the other with everyone giving suggestions to enroll for one or another program.
Behind all this was an underlying worry of getting back to work or a new job once lockdown is lifted. Some said the COVID 19 period is not for saving but for survival and we all need to be humane in approach.
Last year, I received a call from my ex-colleague and he asked me how do I deal with co-employees crying and is it ok to cry at the workplace.
I remember tears rolling down my eyes when I used to be emotionally choked with a lot of things happening around me and inside me which were sometimes beyond my control and post that emotions passing my thoughts used to jump back to positivity and I could think clear.
However, the corporate environment often directly or indirectly influences a thought process that only weak cry and it is not good to cry in the office.
Had met a senior professional sometime back and for the first time in my career I had heard someone saying it is ok to cry and it could be a result of feedback conversation that is hard, Performance Management session going not as per your expectations, the career planning going awry, or simply the argument overwork with a colleague.
However, the reactions that I have observed are that no one comes and speaks to you as the boss is around or does not want to indulge in something which would get the person into trouble. However, I feel like a leader or a manager, one needs to be sensitive to the fact that helping someone who is crying at work takes emotional intelligence and rational thinking on our part not to be sympathetic but be empathetic.
An analysis of what triggered the event and the consequent outburst of emotions naturally would change our perception to look at things that matter to our colleagues and work environment in general.
I have always followed a simple mantra to console co-employees who broke down by saying:
Think you need a small break, let's have a cup of coffee, if it is ok with you.
I'm going to stop talking and want to hear from you and can you please tell me what’s bothering you.
Let’s pause for a few minutes as soon as you are comfortable, we will continue with our discussion.
In most of the cases, it has worked wonders with me connecting with the colleague emotionally. Talking to them neutrally helps them to evaluate what course of action they should opt-in for.
Emotional intelligence matters twice as much as technical and analytic skill combined for star performances,' 'And the higher people move up in the company, the more crucial emotional intelligence becomes.' Bosses and leaders, in particular, need high EQ because they represent the organization to the public, they interact with the highest number of people within and outside the organization and they set the tone for employee morale, says Goleman.
It is ok to vent out your emotions however one must be able to control and direct the emotions in a more assertive manner than being aggressive. It is seen sometimes that people shout, speak in a higher tone which could trigger unnecessary conflicts leading to other complications that are uncalled for.
Currently, more than 75% of the workforce is working from home and getting connected over the emails or phone or similar mode of communication. Lot of anxieties, uncertainties, unfound fears, Pay-cut communication from the employers is not making it easy .In addition to this, the family does sometime fail to connect or support due to various reasons that are beyond circle of influence. The thinking ability goes in for test with family members adding to the woes. The mere lip service is not going to help anymore.
In this scenario we have suggested our clients to engage with their teams on more frequent basis apart from their regular meetings and have a conversation apart from the normal work related issues. Some of our clients have engaged mental health professionals to guide.
Thinking rationally, emoting assertively is a therapy which is the need of the hour. Being mindful of the situation around and accepting that that everyone is sailing in the same or similar boat, we need to be cautious.
In addition to the above, the ever-increasing work pressures add to the stress levels of employees. The concept of WFH though has reduced the travel time, has added other woes. The performance expectations are huge with business houses wanting to recover the losses made as a result of the pandemic.
Leaders with empathy can understand their employee’s needs and provide them with constructive feedback.
No one knows how to deal with the situation in specific. Everyone is experimenting and trying out what best suits the business. It is not the time to point fingers at or blame but it is an opportunity for all of us to Introspect and be future-ready.