Hello, everyone. Welcome to how to your staff cope with change and uncertainty. This topic is part of the 2021 Supervisor Excellence webinar series brought to you by Deer Oaks. I'm Greg Brannan of Deer Oaks, great to be with you today. The subtitle of our series this year supporting your team during difficult times and certainly during the ongoing pandemic. Things are certainly more challenging and difficult for many of us, and many of the folks that we lead.

This is the second in a four part series. Back in February we presented how to effectively supervise a remote work team. We've got this topic today. And coming up in August, we have helping your team find Work/Life balance during stressful times. And then last but not least in November, we'll come back with building a culture of respect, the key to creating a collaborative and engaged work team.

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I've got three objectives for our brief time together today. Number one I want us to remain sensitive, or to resentisize to the impact, that all of the stress and change that we've all experienced in our world in this past 15 months, has had on us as individuals, has had on our families, and has had on our staff. I mean there's just been a lot I know we know this. But sometimes of course, when things go on and on and on, we start to get comfortable with it, we do our best to adjust and we move forward. And that's good those are great coping skill.

But I do want us to recognize and remember from day to day, that our staff are still struggling. I mean, they're still dealing with a lot of higher our stress level than usual. There's been a lot of research around stress levels being a remarkably high throughout the pandemic. Even in February as recently as February of 2021, the American Psychological Association did a nationwide survey on levels of stress among Americans. And they were found to be just as high in February 2021, than they were at the very beginning of the pandemic when people were first dealing with the stress of this.

And so things are still really stressful for folks. And of course, there's still a lot of change folks. And any time there's change, stress levels are higher and people have to make adjustments. And it's a challenge for people. And so let's remember there's just a lot of moving parts right now in the world, as the pandemic evolves, there's new adjustments that we have to make. New changes that happen to us personally and professionally that we have to adjust to. And so let's just stay aware of that and be more sensitive to what our staff members are going through.

Supportive leaders, when leaders are really supportive of empathetic and supportive to their teams, employees tend to feel they tend to be, not only do they feel better about coming to work every day, but they really tend to be a lot more motivated. One of the primary motivators for an employee to be fully motivated and engaged in their work, is when they have an ongoing feeling that my boss cares about me. And my supervisor supports me and cares about me and has my back.

And so during this difficult time, the more we can demonstrate to our staff members that we are sensitive to what they're going through, the more supportive they're going to feel, and the more motivated they're going to feel to do their best work. Now of course, I also want to share some proven strategies to help us to better support the individuals we lead, as they work through the different stress and changes that everyone's dealing with nowadays, personally and professionally. And then last but not least, I want to talk about approaches to help all of us more proactively manage the changes that we're experiencing in our departments and our organization, so that we can be as supportive as possible for staff.

Now as a reminder, I know I'm preaching to the choir about this. I know you are really acutely up to speed on this. But I want to remind us again to resensitize us that, the pandemic has brought about so much change in our world. It's necessitated it's created a need for us to do things differently on a continual basis. And those changes continue to evolve as the pandemic continues. For a lot of people last spring, they had to adjust to working from home. And I many of us are still probably working remotely. Or have started to do kind of a combination of maybe coming back to the physical work space at times, and working at home at times.

But of course, when you think about this, so you had people a lot of people millions of American employees transition to working from home last March, and April, and May, out of necessity for safety purposes. For social distancing and to stay safe during COVID. And now this year people are starting to come back into the physical workspace again. And some organizations are bringing everyone back, other organizations are bringing some people back, or have a hybrid kind of a process where people again, might be working remotely some of the time, and on site other parts of the time.

And so as these things continue to evolve, and these circumstances continue to change, it just again, puts stress and pressure on people. Folks, when people go through change, stress levels are higher. Change is one of the any significant change, is one of the most stressful things that people have to deal with. People are creatures of habit. We get into these habit patterns to allow us to cope with all of the many things that are happening in our lives.

And when we have a lot of different changes happening at once, and a lot of us during the pandemic, there probably experience more changes in both our personal and professional lives in a short period of time than maybe ever before. It really, increases the stress levels and puts pressure on people's ability to hang in there. And our ability to cope with, and adapt to change, really is an important part of mental wellness. But I think all of us, because the amount of change has been so much, and so frequent, this past 15 months. I think a lot of us have really felt the pressure of that. And it has made things really hard, it's made things really challenging.

And so, and let's not forget the social part folks I mean, the social part of our world. People everybody, whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, we're also social beings we need each other. And as we've gone through first, we needed to socially distance. Then we needed to start to come back into the workplace for some of us. Those are different and how we in our personal lives, how we interact with others, how we socialize, how we even celebrated the holidays, how we take vacations. So many things have changed, and continues to evolve.

So there was a time when we had most people working from home for a lot of organizations. And now that may look more hybrid for some organizations. And for still others we may be bringing a lot of people back into the workplace. And that's challenging for people because, folks are still concerned about COVID, and about staying safe, and about social distancing, and so as these changes have occurred, and how and where we're doing our work. And how and where we're interacting with each other again, that's brought a lot of stress and pressure on all of us as we try to figure it out and stay safe.

Now I want to remind us folks again, just to underscore how challenging it is to go through a lot of changes particularly, a lot of challenges in a short period of time is that, people can really struggle. I mean, as I mentioned people are creatures of habit. But people can experience real discomfort when they're trying to make changes. Like some people will just resist it. They're just not comfortable with it. They don't like it, they get angry about it, or they get anxious about whether or not they'll be able to handle it.

And so we need to be patient with people as we're asking them to do different things, and to make changes, and to change where they're working, or change their schedule, or how they're working, and so let's just recognize and be empathetic for people that some people don't easily change. I'm one that does not easily change my wife is on the call today she tell you I'm not one that easily changes. I will get with the program, and I will like remember that old Oreo Speedwagon song and I'm dating myself roll with the changes. I will get with the program and move with the changes eventually. But I resist at first I know that about myself.

And for me sometimes the things I do like can I handle this, will I be able to do it well, because I like the old way of doing things. And I don't if I'm going to like the new way of doing things. And so but let's be patient with people not everyone just will snap their fingers and start doing things the new way we need them to do just the very next day. People need to be able to work through changes, and to make adjustments and to process how they feel about changes, because changes can feel overwhelming for people. Some people can feel disoriented, they can feel really anxious, and so I just want us to have more empathy for all of the changes people have had to deal with.

And so let me remind us folks, both personally and professionally, about just how much we've been through and how much we're still going through. As a world, as an organization, as an area. And so of course with the need for personal protective equipment PPE, those were things we didn't probably had to have an acronym for 15 months ago. But when those things were happening, when that became on our radar screen, and now as people are evolving to come back into the physical workspace, what they remember from before the pandemic may be different. Where they used to be able to sit next to people they were comfortable with maybe, because of personal maintaining social distancing. Maybe where that were desks and cubicles or station has changed in some organizations. And maybe the kind of personal protective equipment that people have to wear has changed, and might be uncomfortable for some, and they may have a difficult time adjusting to certain safety procedures and protocols have been put in place.

So we've got to be patient again with people. And then still other people have had their job responsibilities either modified, or changed a little bit. And so people will have a little bit of anxiety around that. And so, and as the pandemic continues, and schedules change, and the way we deliver services in different organizations has evolved, or needs to evolve. I know there's a lot more things being done online nowadays. And of course, doing business online and servicing organizations, and customers and citizens online, has been something we've all been doing now for quite a while.

But the amount of things and the speed with which we do things nowadays, may have really shifted over there. And the types of things we're doing virtually, may have shifted over the course of the pandemic. And so and that can be uncomfortable for people who have to adjust to those things, as they have an impact on their work responsibilities. And then let's not forget folks, some people who are working remotely have not loved working remotely. They've missed being on site with their friends for a lot of people.

There's been a lot of research around this. Many of their social needs get met at work and so, you're going to have some people that have been working from home, that have been asked to continue working from home for the time being, that are itching to get back to work. To the physical workplace. Then you'll have other people that are transitioning to come back into the physical workplace that are not comfortable. There they're still fearful that they could contract COVID, or maybe they live with people who are at risk and they don't want to be infected and bring that home. And so there's a lot of challenges in this.

And then there's a lot of people that are transitioning back to the physical workplace that are having a difficult time with that. For a lot of us, we've been away from the physical workplace for going on right going on 15 months. That's a long time. People change. And so people are wondering, will I still have my buddies I used to go to lunch with? Will we still have the same kind of relationship we had before the pandemic? I mean, maybe there's new people that have joined the team during the pandemic that I've never gotten a chance to really get to know, am I going to be comfortable working with these new people? Is this where my workstation going to be going to be comfortable for me? That's important for people. They need and be comfortable with their workstation. Is the schedule that I'm being that I'm responsible for my job responsibilities is going to be comfortable for me moving forward?

So let's be sensitive to the fact that, there's a lot going on right now and it's causing people stress. And oftentimes forks, individual employees won't necessarily come to their supervisor and complain, but they'll just be uncomfortable. And so in that can have an impact on morale and motivation. And so we want to be proactively reaching out to people and showing support.

And the last thing I want to just sort of remind, this I know again, I'm preaching to the choir. I know we've been living this. But still let's remember folks, family schedules are still tough. And so I at the beginning of the pandemic, it was really hard, especially for working parents and children that were coming home from schools. For social distancing reasons to stay safe during the pandemic. And I talked to literally dozens and dozens and dozens of parents that were really stressed out about having their kids on top of them 24/7. They weren't getting some of their work done during the day when they were working remotely, because they were trying to provide supervision for the kids, and to make sure the kids were doing their remote or distance learning. And so it became very challenging.

And now, with a lot of school districts in the country going hybrid, I one of my colleagues is a teacher he's a high school teacher, when I was asking him the other day, what's going on at your school right now? I said are you are you all back to on site classes? He says no we're hybrid. And I said, what's that like for you as a teacher? And he was trying to explain to me that, they had three categories of students that he's trying to juggle. There's people that are back on site full time, people that are back on site hybrid, and people that are still remote where their parents in this particular school district said, I don't want my kids back in school right now I don't think it's safe. And so there are three different milieus that he's working with. Tell me how complicated that is.

And so let's remember, there's parents like trying to figure out daycare solutions around changing and evolving schedules with their with their children's school districts, and the need to be on site sometimes, home sometimes doing remote learning. And while parents are still trying to manage their own work schedules. Let's just be sensitive that there's a lot of things going on right now that are making things hard for people.

And it's not just for parents of children. Employees that are parents of children, but also you've got some employees that have older adults that they're caring for, and they have additional concerns of not wanting to be exposed to COVID. Like I have an 81-year-old mother that's got health complications. She wouldn't mind my sharing. And I have not gone to see her since the pandemic started just because I'm out and around, and so I do my job with Deer Oaks. But then I'm also an ice hockey coach on the weekends. And so I'm out and around a lot of people. And I do I do not want to expose my mother to COVID if I'm ever exposed to it.

And so we need to remember that people are dealing with different anxieties, and hopefully certainly as the vaccines get more widely distributed, that things are going to get better get better sooner than later. And get back to more of a normal schedule. But right now, let's remember that things are still in flux and people are still dealing with stress. Same thing with people trying to figure out, is it safe to travel, to do a vacation this year, a lot of people canceled their vacations last year, people celebrate the holidays differently, and some people social activities and habits of change just to try to stay safe during this ongoing difficult time.

And then you've got other people that are struggling financially. And even if here Deer Oaks, we've been touched by that my wife and I. Even though our situation in Deer Oaks is really stable, my adult daughter was furloughed from her company because of the pandemic. And her company shut down and she came had to come move in with us. And of course, she came with financial obligations that we were helping her to pay. And so it's been challenging for us. And so I a lot of families have been touched by financial stressors during this time.

So again, just to resentisize us, or keep us sensitive to some of the things that our employees are dealing with even before they come to work every day. All right. Next I want to sensitize you to the transition process that people go through to adjust to changes. And this is something we might not commonly think about as supervisors because, I work in the mental health field and I'm a supervisor, I do think of these kinds of things.

But whenever an individual goes through a significant change whether it means changing how and where they work, or taking on new job responsibilities, or having a change in their social schedule, having to learn a new software system. Anything significant that a change the people go through. I want to share these seven steps. I'm going to break them down into three steps.

The first substep that most people go through is called shock and denial. It's basically wrapping our head around that this is really happening. It's grasping that yes this is really happening, Yes I have to actually go back into the physical workspace the first of the month that's been announced. I was told I have to go back to first of the month and I'm nervous about this. I'm not comfortable with it at all because COVID still out there. And I'm just being hypothetical about that. But people could be thinking those kinds of things. And so initially they might experience some shock or deny like, I can't believe this is happening, or they haven't accepted it yet.

The second stage that's probably the most important stage. And processing change is the emotional part. We have to process how we feel emotionally and express how we feel. We've got to get it out. So that can be anger, depression, sadness, frustration, and so for a lot of people when they get the news that they've got to go back into physical work workspace, I'll stay with that hypothetical example, they might not be happy with that. And so they're complaining about us saying, I don't like this. I don't like the idea of being around too many people. I don't feel like yes I'm getting vaccinated, but I still don't feel there's some uncertainties there. And I and I'm still not comfortable being around a lot of others in tight quarters. And you could have people really angry and upset about that, or feeling kind of discouraged or down about it.

And I'm sharing this with you folks as leaders and supervisors, so you can again be sensitive to what people might be struggling with. So you can be more supportive. And a lot of times if when an individual's feeling pressured or stressed about a change, just knowing that their boss cares about them and touches base with them. How are you doing with this transition, anything I can do to help you can make all the difference in the world. I just want us to be sensitive to that. And then folks people need to express that they need to tell people other people how they're feeling. And that everyone's going to be comfortable expressing to their boss but some will. Some will say if you say how's it going? some Will tell you this is what's going on.

I one of my colleagues at Deer Oaks, beginning of last year had to become a home school teacher for her six-year-old. And it was hard for her and her husband. I mean they're both busy professionals, and they had to do more than just help their daughter do distance learning. They had to actually become home school teachers, and lead her on a day to day basis with lessons. And so it was really challenging to private school that they go to. And she would share with me how hard that was, and I would ask her for from time to time how that was going if there's anything I could do to support.

And I think she really appreciated that. And really seemed to make a difference in her motivation knowing that I was here for her. And if there were times when maybe she couldn't respond or attend a meeting during the day, because of a responsibility with her daughter's schooling, that she would that she and I would be on the same page, that she would make that time up and it would be fine it would be OK we'd be flexible with her. And I know not everyone's in an environment where you can do that. But when we can obviously, at least be sensitive and provide that emotional support. If not the functional support to the employee makes a big difference to an employee when they feel their boss really is really there for them.

And then as people can process how they feel, then they can start to move forward and explore, that may be the new way of doing things won't be so bad after all and start to accept that OK I can move forward. The other piece I want us to think about is, people have to go through kind of an attitude adjustment. And during the ongoing pandemic, I think it's important for us to just regularly be touching base with people about the fact that changes are continuing, and because no one knows exactly how the pandemic is going to continue, and how it's going to how it's going to evolve and what are the changes might be necessitated both personally and professionally as a result.

I think it's important for us to have a good attitude about that. And expect that there may be more changes. And also to expect that it could be uncomfortable changes is hard. And just be real with each other about that. And then for us the supervisors to be patient with people. Give them time to adjust to the different changes that are coming down.

All right. Next is helping our staff deal with the stress and anxiety of uncertainty. Most of us probably remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from back in school. And so, Albert Maslow had a wonderful kind of, he came up with this like diagram that just talked about the internal workings of an individual. And what different needs we have in order to be motivated. So for example, if we didn't feel safe and secure, we'd have a hard time getting outside of ourselves, and start to be altruistic and giving back to the world, because we'd be stuck and trying to meet our basic needs like paying our rent, taking care of our needs day to day, you those kinds of things.

And so we need to recognize when there's uncertainty out there, because people need a sense of security and predictability. And right now with the pandemic no one is truly certain of what the future looks like OK. And no one knows exactly how the pandemic or the economy as a result of the pandemic, or our personal circumstances either in our personal lives, or in our work lives, are going to continue to evolve. No one knows for sure. And so it's perfectly normal to have people experience stress and anxiety.

When you don't exactly what's going to happen six months from now or three months from now, it can be uncomfortable for people. And they can have anxiety about like coming back into the physical workplace, because they're not sure what that's going to look like, or what other changes might be coming down the pike.

So again, let's just be sensitive and supportive of people. And then let's encourage them to work on their coping skills. And this a lot of times, when a supervisor encourages employees to work on their coping skills, that kind of it sort of gives people permission to take better care of themselves. So that can go a long way. And we can do it through modeling. We can show them we're taking care of ourselves.

But we can also encourage them verbally. We can encourage positive self talk with people. A lot of times how people think about the challenges are going through as has a lot to do with how well they'll cope with it. Like if someone gets really negative like, this is terrible. This things I don't like it, I hate this, I'm really uncomfortable. And they're doing that day in, day out. Now naturally it's fine for people to express how they feel as they're making an adjustment of course.

But some people get stuck in that. And they complain and get really negative day in, day out and/or they just that's their usual demeanor is to just be negative and to focus on the negative. And when you get someone that's really negative who complains a lot, of can pull the team down. And so you can encourage people to see the bright side and say, yeah, I know this is hard right now, I know we're all going through an adjustment, but you know what guys will get through this together. That's the kind of support that a leader can give to individual employees or to the team, that can keep people moving forward.

So encourage people to look at the bright side. Remind them that things are starting to get better, that the vaccines are being distributed. And our organizations made some very positive changes to keep us safe. And remind people of the good. That can help encourage people to keep going day in, day out. Also encourage resilience folks. Encourage people to take care of themselves. Resilience is our inner strength, the core of our resilience comes from health. Our health, our health and energy.

And so and you get health and energy from exercise, encourage people to exercise regularly. Get up and move around, exercise regularly. And encourage people to get a good night's sleep, take care of themselves. Provide a really supportive environment there in the office where people can talk about what they're dealing with. Having team meetings from time to time, where you give people a chance to process how they're feeling about different changes, or things that are happening as people are coming back into the physical workplace, or other things that are going on in your organization. That can be very healthy.

They certainly don't want to let it digress into a complaining session, because that can pull everybody down. But a good supervisor that has good facilitation skills, can encourage constructive conversation about how we do it how we feel about this? I know it's been hard for us to make these changes. How are you dealing with this right now? How are you feeling about it? What additional support can I provide? Having those kinds of conversations and one on one with employees and in team meetings can be very, very helpful.

All right. Proactively managing change. Now this is you as the supervisor kind of keeping you're keeping your eye on how much change is going on in your environment, because if too much change is happening too quickly either to an individual and their responsibilities, or to the team as a whole. It can be overwhelming for people. And that's what happened early on in the pandemic. And that's continuing to happen on and off. And so just recognize that if your team is already going through a big change, like they're there half the teams coming back into the physical workplace for example.

And so maybe this isn't the right time to implement a new policy. Or to implement a new software system, would be an example of that. I was talking to one of my colleagues at the ice rink right that where I teach where I coach. And she was telling me about she's going through a bunch of changes right now, in her personal job responsibilities. And she said, she's actually verbalize to me on Saturday when I saw her she said, I am so glad we put off implementing our new software system, because that was just going to put me over the top. I just I couldn't handle one more thing right now.

And I thought that was so well verbalized. That so you as a supervisor, if you have some input into how things are being rolled out or what changes are occurring, just be mindful that we don't want too many changes happening too fast for people, because it can be overwhelming. People need to process one change at a time if possible.

And give feedback to upper management. A lot of times upper management of course being well-meaning, they roll out all these new initiatives or new programs. You might if there's too much going on and people are already adjusting to a lot with the pandemic, you might give feedback to upper management like, maybe we could space out some of these changes right now, even though I they're all necessary, just to give people a chance to adjust to coming back into the workplace again using that example.

And again as I mentioned, provide opportunities for individuals during your one on one meetings. If you're not doing a regular one on one meetings with people, especially if they're going through a lot of changes, you might start doing those. So a lot of research to talk about the efficacy, or how individuals who have regularly scheduled one on one meetings with their boss, tend to be three times more engaged than those that aren't. There's something about having regular schedule time with your boss. Where your supervisor can communicate. So that they care about you, they can take an interest in you, you can get on the same page together with priorities, you feel supported, that goes a long way.

And if you're not doing it now, you might consider implementing some of that, because people right now probably need more support during the ongoing pandemic than ever before. And so that would give you an opportunity to regularly one on one, meet with people and then during your regular team meetings, do some of what I suggested a few moments ago. And have some conversations with the team as a group. To talk about how we deal with these new things. What additional support do you need? How are you feeling about all these things? What are your thoughts? And give people a chance to process and feel that support from you.

All right. Last but not least, some open up for questions folks. Is help people to try to stay open to positive possibilities as I mentioned earlier. Encouraging positive self talk, having a positive attitude, setting a positive tone for your team is an important part of positive leadership. And people need that. It's interesting there's a book out there called The Leadership Challenge by khuzestan Painter so wonderful leadership book. They talked about, there was a great study in there that said, one of the top things that people want from their supervisor is they want to be inspired, they want positivity, they want to know that we're going to get through whatever's causing us frustration right now, and tomorrow is going to be better than today. There's hope for the future.

And a supervisor communicates encouragement and positivity. And reminds people to look at the positive. Is inspirational. It encourages people to keep moving forward. And so let's remember that's part of our role as a leader. So for example, as part of that remind staff of the importance of having an open mind. That as we go through continued changes here through the pandemic, that just to stay open. Remind them that some good can come from that. Maybe there's new opportunities, new skills people can learn.

I have to share one of my favorite success stories about eight years ago. And I'm a baby boomer, so I've been in the workforce going on for 40 years. And so, and I didn't grow up with technology and so, about eight years ago Deer Oaks came to me and said, and I'm a teacher and a trainer as some of you know. And I love to teach, and I love it. But I was a traditional face to face classroom teacher. I didn't do online training until about eight years ago.

And Deer Oaks came to me and said, we see that the future of training is going to include online training, and would you be willing to learn how to facilitate webinars? Like the one we're doing today. And folks, just like I mentioned earlier, I was uncomfortable with that. Number one I didn't think I could do it. Number two I didn't think I'd like to do it. because I enjoy being in a room with people. I'm an extrovert and that energizes me.

But I was willing to try. As part of my job, to do so, I needed to figure it out. And so even though it was uncomfortable for me, I tried. And what after about a dozen, I did about a dozen back then in like 2013 somewhere around there. I started to get some decent feedback and I thought, hey, maybe I can do this. And then over the next few years, I started to do it quite often. And then I started to enjoy it. And then and I started to educate myself, and get additional training, and best practices, and then webinar facilitation. And so, and nowadays, I honestly really enjoy it.

And last year during the pandemic as most of you know outside training virtually shut down. I mean it's weird. It's weird to say that virtually shut down. But it pretty much shut down completely because of social distancing. It wasn't safe to go on site and do seminars and do trainings anymore. And so I did over 200 webinars last year. And because I had an open mind, and that's what I wanted us to see, because I had an up and open mind, it actually gave me the opportunity to take on new responsibilities for Deer Oaks and to increase my value to my organization and to our clients.

And so I just want to encourage you, I mean, during this difficult times you may be asked to try different things. Many of you probably have already been asked to try different things. And yes it may be uncomfortable first, and that's part of the transition process we've talked about. But hang in there, recognize there are positive possibilities that can come from it. And so and an organizational psychologist just recently said, he basically said the most successful employees in the next few years, because of all of the changes that have come down during the pandemic are going to be those that are open minded and flexible to change.

And so let's do our best. Let's do our best to be open to changes, open to new possibilities to trying different things, to learning new skills because as we do, we may see greater opportunity in our careers and again be more of an asset to our organizations and our clients. And so all right, folks, I covered a lot in a very short period of time, we've had a great turnout today. We've got a couple of people on the line today. And so I would I'd love to open it up for questions.

And so if you have any questions, please type your questions into the question box in the GoToWebinar software in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Now as you're thinking of questions folks, I do want to remind you because everyone on the call today has Deer Oaks as your Employee Assistance Program provider your IRP program. So remember if you're going through stressful times, as you're making different changes, or you're feeling overwhelmed with different things that are going on in your world, remember you've got free counseling sessions through your Deer Oaks EAP. If you don't know how to reach Deer Oaks we are available 24 hours a day we a tall free number. And just reach out to your human resources team, and just send them a quick email and say, can I please have the toll free number for Deer Oaks. They'd be happy to send it to you.

And remember, Deer Oaks services are confidential and so, you won't need to tell HR or anybody else you why you're calling Deer Oaks. But you're just asking for the contact information for your EAP benefit. So and they'd be happy to provide it for you. All right, folks again if you have any questions, please type your questions into the question box in the GoToWebinar software in the upper right hand corner of your screen. We've got time for questions.

Here's one request for the name and title of that book again. So the book that I mentioned is one of my favorite leadership books. It's called The Leadership Challenge. And it's written by Kouzes Posner so a wonderful book. It's well researched. It actually follows it's been doing research over four different decades, as generations evolve and people's needs change. It's very current, I love the book. And it real I mean it just can pull out a lot of great best practices and how to lead and manage teams through that book.

I had one individual asking if some of their colleagues around there are on this call. I actually won't answer that question, I hope you understand just in case, people want to maintain confidentiality. But I appreciate you asking the question. We do have quite a great turnout today. We have a lot of different organizations represented.

We're getting some great questions coming in now folks. All right. What if I personally am stressed about returning to work, and I'm having trouble demonstrating a positive attitude towards my step? That's a great question. Thank you for being so human. We all are going to have those times folks when we're not going to be at our best. Will either be feeling the stress the same stress our team our team is feeling, especially during these difficult times, or we're human beings we might have something going on in our personal lives that's weighing on us, that's caused us to feel down and discouraged. So we're having a hard time being as positive as we normally would be.

And so but let's recognize though, let's recognize that I great advice by a longtime manager from a local municipality that I got to very well a few years ago. She said to me that she realized that being positive and putting her personal needs aside, and being positive for her team, was part of her responsibility as a supervisor. She said it comes with the territory, she said I realize that even though I'm human and I'm going to have my good days and my bad days, my team depends on me to set a positive tone.

So she said when I walk into city hall every day, she says I check my baggage at the door, she says she looks literally looks at the door. Welcome to city hall and she visualizes checking her baggage. And she walks in that building and she says to herself in her mind It's showtime. And she puts a smile on her face, and she does her best to stay positive for her team even when she's not feeling positive. And I admire that, and I do the same thing. And I think most leaders recognize that.

And not that we have to be superhuman no. And you can be honest with people when you're not at your best or you're struggling with different things. Certainly, employees like to see that we're human too. But we do owe it to our staff. And it does come with the territory to set a positive tone. So let's do our best to day to day put our own stressors aside and be there for the team.

If the situation you're supporting the team with is also causing you stress. If you feel appropriate and I tend to be transparent about those kinds of things. I say to people I'm struggling with this too. I mean this is hard for me too. But you what guys, will get through it together. And then I always turn it into a positive look. We'll get through this together. I mean, it is what it is we have to deal with it. Let's get through it together. And so hope that helps.

All right now we've got a lot of questions coming in. Thank you folks. OK here's another really good one. Do you have do you have a suggestion on how to help staff when the company wants you to continue to make significant changes? Thank you for asking that question. Remember that old saying folks that the only thing constant is change. I think that's saying is so true to life. And it's even it's even changes are even more frequent now during the pandemic.

And I think even pre pandemic 15 months ago, I thought then coming into 2020 I thought, wow the world is evolving so quickly nowadays because of technology, and things are changing so much more rapidly than ever before. And then the pandemic hit. And then we were forced for safety reasons, to make a large number of additional changes both personally and professionally.

And so if your organization is continuing to roll out a lot of changes when the world is continuing to change, just be that voice of support respectfully, to the powers that be to say can we please just take a step back and kind of look at the bigger picture in terms of all of the different changes our staff are having to deal with. Is there any way to stagger some of this?

I recognize that a lot of the changes that we're making, are helpful and important for our business or our organization, or help us meet the needs of citizens, whatever environment you're working in. But right now there's so much going on in people's lives. And I think too many too many changes happening too quickly at this point in time could be really overwhelming for people. And it could really hurt their morale and hurt their productivity. That having that conversation respectfully with people above in the organization, can be a healthy conversation. It can help people stop and think and be more planful about how they implement these changes.

Here's another really good question. How do you sensitively bring up the topic with an employee when you see them struggling with change, but they haven't expressed it? That's a great question. And so and of course, we want to respect people's comfort level. Now as a supervisor, we do have the responsibility to be supportive. That's part of just like setting a positive tone should be part of every supervisors that we take ownership around. I need to set a positive tone for my team. We also need to be a support.

And so if you see someone that's obviously struggling, and not to put someone on the spot. So you don't want to have that conversation in front of other people obviously. But to pull someone aside and say, since we rolled out XYZ I've noticed that you seem to be struggling a little bit. Am I right about that? Is there anything I can do to help?

And as long as you do it in a tactful way, insensitive to the needs of each person because, everyone's different. Some people would be uncomfortable having you be direct about something. And so maybe you have a softer conversation about it. Other people you've known a long time and they wouldn't have a problem with that, they know you and you know them you just ask them right out. But it is our responsibility If you see someone that's troubled, if you see someone that's struggling it is part of our responsibility.

And I'm not saying become their counselor no. That's not our role. That's why you have an EAP. If you find out someone needs counseling when you do ask what's going on, and anything you do to help then of course, you want to refer them to the EAP for that. But just think about this, on the continuum of support, they're showing compassion and then there's offering practical assistance, like is there anything I can do to help you during this difficult time. Sometimes people need help with their workload, sometimes they just need a listening ear.

Now, if they start getting down into really intense things that need counseling, that obviously is outside of our responsibility as a supervisor. That's when you might make the referral to the EAP. But there's many ways we can provide support. And I do think it's great to be proactive about that. Thank you for that. Someone else is asking if we'll receive the PowerPoint. If you would like the PowerPoint, we can definitely send it to you. We don't automatically send them out. But all you have to do is hit reply to your GoToWebinar invitation for day today and request a copy of the PowerPoint and the staff of our team would be happy to send it to you.

All right. We've got more questions, folks got time for a couple more. Oh here's a great question. Are there ideas for virtual team building activities? Absolutely. I'm so glad you asked that question. So with so many of us working virtually, and continuing to work virtually. And here at Deer Oaks, I've been working virtually now for a long time. Our whole team is virtual nowadays. And I personally I've been working virtually since 2009. And so I know a lot of people are newer to it. For our virtual team meetings. I mean we do ice breakers. And go online and just google ice breakers for meetings.

And we go around the virtual room. And everyone has a chance to do the icebreaker. Like we've done some great icebreakers. Recently, we did one on what's the best concert you've ever been to and tell us why? Another time we said if you were giving advice to your 18-year-old self, with what you know now as an adult, what would that advice be? And why? Recently, we did one of my colleagues at an icebreaker at the beginning of the meetings. Icebreakers by the way folks help people get to each other better. And bond a little bit better. And they're fun. And it's a really great way to do team building.

And so one of my colleagues did one on, I'm trying to remember the exact but it was really good. It was about Oh if you had a time machine, where would you go back in time and why? We had a lot of fun with that one we learned a lot about each other. And so those are great. Those are really, really wonderful to utilize. Thank you for that question.

I got a couple more quick a time for a couple more. I'm trying to find and I got a whole bunch of questions folks. I'm going to try to pick a couple more that a lot of people could relate to. All right. Here's another good one I think we can all relate to this. Is it's hard to a step or to relay positivity when you're stressed out? I agree with you absolutely. I do it but I don't how much that my team is believing me I'm paraphrasing. I don't want them to think I'm lying to them. I work hard to support them.

And it would be nice to feel supported as well absolutely. This is a very stressful time in our agency, and in the world with the pandemic. You're absolutely right. Thank you so much I mean for being real with that question. So many of us have had that exact same feeling. So thank you for asking that question. Yes and so this is what, to me let's be as real as we can with people OK. I mean, let's just be honest with people that, hey, I'm struggling too we're in this together, this pandemic is hard. I mean I shared with people how hard it is.

And just but I don't get stuck in the muck of it. Like to just start complaining about this is terrible, this is awful no. But I'll say, hey, I'm struggling with that too, this is hard for me too. You seem to be struggling a little bit. Am I sensing that correctly? Anything I can do to help? And let's say the person starts saying, well I'm struggling with this and this and if you can relate to some of that to say, hey, I've been struggling with some of that too during the pandemic. And I can relate. And what we'll get through this together. What can I do to support you?

That's the kind of sincerity and transparency I think that people resonate with. It's just to be real with people as comfortable as you are with that. And we're all a little different I'm more of an extrovert. So I'm sort of more out there, with self-disclosure and some people aren't as comfortable with that. And I respect that. But in whatever way you're comfortable try to share with others. And so all right. Thank you see this time for one more question. I'm trying to find another one that would be something we could all relate to.

OK here's a really good question. And so this be the last one we'll cover for today folks. Is that how do you interact with an employee that is really scared or timid to return to work? It's like they're in denial and they're dealing with a lot of fear. And I'm paraphrasing of course. And so I hope I captured the gist of your question.

And so certainly you certainly talk to your boss, talk to HR. And just make sure you're real clear about what resources your organization is making available for people, to be able to transition back into the physical workplace. So you want to know what the options are right for helping people. And so and every organization is going to be a little bit different along those lines. And just because a lot of times, they can give you some talking points and ask them for some advice how have other supervisors talked to their employees who might have been a little reluctant to come back, or have expressed fear about coming back into the physical workspace?

So a lot of times getting some support from HR and your boss or other supervisors that are going through the same thing, can give you some talking points. But more than anything else, just be real empathetic with people. Say I understand that we're still in a pandemic and things are still a little bit scary, I understand that. And then, try to assure them with whatever is real in your environment, about safety measures that have been put in place. And let them know that I'm here for you, and we'll get through this together. I mean that kind of support a lot of times can help someone start to move forward.

And let's just be real folks. It's going to be uncomfortable for some people to come back into the physical workplace. We're still in the middle of a pandemic. And we talked about all the different life situations that people are in, that can cause them a lot of fear with the ongoing pandemic. And the fear of contracting COVID and all those kinds of things. So let's just be real sensitive and do our best with the resources we have in our organization to help support people through that process.

All right folks, thank you for your time today. We had a wonderful turnout today. And I truly appreciate everyone staying on. Almost everyone stayed on all the way through all of the questions. And to remind you again, this was the first in the 2021 Deer Oaks Supervisor Excellence Webinar Series. I'm sorry this was the second topic. How to help your staff cope with what change and uncertainty. We have two more topics coming up later in the year, helping your team find Work/Life balance during stressful times is the next one coming up in August, and then building a culture of respect is coming up in November.

Again if you need any information about the future sessions, please hit reply to your GoToWebinar invitation for today, and ask our staff to send you the registration information for future sessions. We'd be happy to do that. And in closing, I just want to say that it's such a privilege for us here at Deer Oaks to provide EAP services for you, and your family members in your organization. We love the opportunity, and we're here for you. Remember, our services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need the toll free number to reach Deer Oaks reach out to your respective human resources office, and ask for the toll free number for Deer Oaks. They'd be happy to send it to you.

And last but not least folks as we continue on during these difficult times. I want to remind you all to stay safe and healthy. And I'm looking forward to being with you on another one of these educational programs in the near future. Thank you everyone so much. Have a wonderful rest of the day.