Tuesday 1 April 2008

Member Care--Help from Leaders: 1

Helping Staff Deal with Difficult Experiences
Part one of four parts
Note--with a music link at the end.

Death, discord, disillusionment, depression, danger. What helps our staff grow through such difficult experiences? How can people move from being “stuck in the mire of work/life” towards having a greater sense of contentment, healthy attitudes, and good relationships?
To begin, everyone benefits from having a safe place and a safe person with whom to talk. Particularly helpful are special times that we have to talk with a trusted leader in our organisation. We call such times “AV2 encounters”.
Mission/aid life can thrash even the most robust of us. Notworthy are the chronic exposure to misery and relationship struggles on field projects or in headquarter offices (e.g., the two main stressors in Carter’s 1999 study: “seeing needs I am unable to meet” and “confronting others when necessary”). How do we help ourselves and others navigate such difficult experiences?
We Need Quality Leaders.
Group and individual debriefings can really help of course, including support from external consultants or in-house resources like colleagues with counselling/debriefing training or counsellors in an Employee Assistance Programme. In addition, there is something reassuring about connecting with an organisational leader, especially a “busy” albeit trusted person, who really takes the time to listen and understand. Talking with such leaders can be very valuable even if the leader does not always agree with the perspectives shared, or even if the leader can do little in response to the person’s concerns. In my experience most staff usually appreciate sharing their difficult experiences with such a leader, provided that the leader is indeed “safe” (low risk)—that is, keeps complete confidence, is genuinely concerned, and does not use staff concerns against them.
Reflection and Discussion
1. List some safe people and places for you.
2. What makes them safe?
3. Are there leaders you trust enough to confide in?
Listen to this song by Ringo Starr and George Harrsison, 1971.
It Don't Come Easy
How might this relate to your life and relationships of trust?

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