The world is currently literally holding its breath waiting to see the outcome of the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic and with this comes the impact on both global markets and trade as well as the massive reduction in travel both for business and pleasure. When major events, whether for an individual, community or nation take place so often it’s the small stories, small acts of kindness in response, support and care that are missed only to be recounted long after. In a world where “bad news is news” it’s important to remember the human side of everything.
While there is no shortage of reportage, comment, speculation, and facts, we should all pause to remember what it is like for those friends, colleagues and business associates who live and work in Asia. So, while global challenges and/or trends come and go, life seems to go on and the simple act of remembering to reach out, stay in contact and offer help and support surely is at the heart of truly trusting and long-term relationships.
Bringing it closer to home, this fact is personified in our own workplaces where the absence of mindfulness and the lack of mindfulness for others, sadly manifests itself as wanting more than ever when times are tough. A few examples I remember include a hospital where I worked that had major financial challenges, so bad the pressures were not just within, but came externally and were threatening, and that’s how it seemed at the time, to everyone. Fear of job losses, fear of frozen recruitment and removal of posts. I so remember the faces of colleagues who, while always committed to their vocation, carried a heavy heart while performing their care of patients. Yet, the pain they carried seemed at source to be out of the individuals’ control to resolve.
As a recently appointed General Manager, my challenge at the time, stated in no uncertain terms by the CEO, was to deliver savings of £100,000 through cuts in manpower. My return to the departments was met by avoidance, mistrust, and silence. Glum faces all pointed away from me and it was clear everyone knew my role in events yet to unfold.
While it was easier to hide, to mull over the what, how and who, something in the human soul was shouting there had to be a better way. A way to be mindful of all the obvious fear and pain and more mindful still of the collateral damage to families and relatives of those now ‘in the firing line’. Instead of hiding taking time to meet, talk and listen made it very clear to me why action was required and fast. People expected action, but once resolved to act, it seemed they were not expecting the actions that ensued.
A meeting was called for all staff, a venue found that was large enough to accommodate and we began. To avoid silence, further tension and pain the conversation began:
“Why are we here?” I asked.
The immediate response from a porter at the back of the room was, “so you can tell us who you’re going to sack”.
“Is that what you think I should do?”
“I don’t think I want to do this and in truth, you don’t. What I know is sitting in this room are hundreds of ideas about how we can get out of this ‘crisis’, solutions to savings we can make, improvements in systems and processes and most of all better working practices for the good of all of us.”
That one open statement rolled forward over the next 6 months not only delivered what was required but exceeded expectations. But you might ask, “when did you know it was possible?”
A senior sister who ran her own specialty like a little fiefdom, preciously guarding all that was her unit, her team and their resources, popped into my room a couple of weeks later stating that not only had she drilled down into volumes, deliveries, usage, and pricing comparisons but had chosen to do it for the whole service and calculated a saving that made a marked impression on our collective efforts. For someone perceived as inward-focused and protective, she had singlehandedly come up with something for the benefit of the whole. “We are all in this and this is something I’m doing for the whole service, I don’t want anyone to lose their job”. That was the day I knew it was possible!
Her mindfulness and as it turned out everyone in that services’ mindfulness of others, not just in the task we all owned, but also in how people talked, supported and encouraged each other on that journey made for a morale boost and atmosphere that was infectious, productive, positive and joyous. We all had a great time and it continued long after.
Returning to the coronavirus epidemic I was truly moved by a recent post Roger Sharp placed on LinkedIn which summed up far better than I ever could how each of us should respond and behave in these uncertain times. His theme was mindfulness and the key points were:
- It’ll pass. Whatever it is, it’ll pass.
- If you’re a foreigner, stay the course.
- Have faith.
- Make no assumptions, and be nice.
Wise words and lessons for each of us in these difficult times.
Mindfulness is a trait each of us has, each of us is a leader too, and being cognisant of these facts and acting upon them in the good and bad times is the key.
At Entrusted Consulting, we identify and enhance levels of TRUST in organisations to optimise corporate performance. This is achieved through a range of services from Trust diagnostic tools, coaching, mediation, board assessment, governance reviews and leadership development at all levels. You can learn more about how Entrusted can help you benchmark and improve the TRUST within your organisation, thus enabling greater results. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org