The events going on in the world today are hard to ignore. In the U.S. it's difficult to watch the news or open social media without hearing about the devastation from recent natural disasters, debates about the way people protest, or rants about how a number of important political issues are unfolding.
Whether you engage in the conversations on your personal time or just watch from the periphery, it is hard not to feel something as a result of it all.
Even though much of these events don't have a direct impact on your business, your team is no doubt experiencing the effects of them. That's because your company is run by people.
And no matter how hard they may try to keep events of the world from impacting them emotionally at work, the reality is, it isn't always the easiest thing to compartmentalize so they can stay focused on their professional duties. It trickles through.
Here are seven ways to lead your team so they can continue to perform, despite all the chaos that is happening in the world.
1. Reconnect with your customers.
Your business exists to serve your customers. And every person on your team has a role to play in making life better for the people you serve.
So when it seems like everything has their focus but the task at hand, a great way to turn their attention back to their work is to remind them of why they are working in the first place.
Consider organizing a live customer visit, share the story of a customer the team has helped in some way,
By reminding your team of the greater purpose, why their work is important, and the positive impact it makes in the lives of others, the easier it becomes to shut out distractions.
2. Give to others in need.
It is a challenge to stay distracted with the headlines and dismal reports in the news when you are in the trenches focused on meeting an immediate need of someone who could use your help.
Organize an activity where everyone can play a part. Your team could feed the hungry at a local food kitchen, tutor kids to help them improve their reading, or collect hygiene kits for people who've been displaced in the aftermath of recent hurricanes.
3. Celebrate recent team wins.
An instant way to get your mind out of a rut of focusing on all that is wrong is taking the time to highlight what is going well.
You could publicly highlight wins within the group both collectively and individually, as a way to underscore the great work the team has been doing.
4. Express gratitude for small gestures that made a big impact.
Have your team spend some time giving thanks for their fellow team members. People don't always have to achieve a major accomplishment for them to make a big impact.
By having your team share instances of when their teammates did something that brightened their day, it enables them to focus on the positive. It also serves as a reminder that there are things that are within their control that can inject goodness into the world.
5. Have fun.
Sometimes you just need a distraction from what troubles you. Don't underestimate how much a team lunch with no agenda, an impromptu bowling team building event, or even a competitive game of taboo or ping pong can do to get your team's mind off of challenging circumstances that weigh heavily on them.
6. Set a new goal the team can rally around.
Directing your team's energy toward a new, common, and worthwhile goal can inspire them to work together to accomplish a new task.
Even a short-term goal where there's a desirable reward on the line can get your team excited about digging back into their work.
7. Talk it out.
Don't ignore the elephant in the room. Acknowledge challenging circumstances and their impact. Get your team in the habit of sharing what is troubling them.
The objective isn't to solve any particular issue that isn't related to work. It is to keep them from bottling it up inside. By getting people to articulate what is weighing heavily on their hearts, it is an opportunity for empathy to occur within the team.
You can't control everything that goes on in the world, or how it will impact your team. But you can control how you lead them through it, so they feel like they're in a safe space when they come to work, and can still be productive.
Try one of the suggestions above, or brainstorm a few of your own. Just take the opportunity to lead your team in a way that makes them stronger in the midst of the chaos.