What We Need to Know About Human Disaster Response

Getting Ahead of the Next Curve as a Leader and Team: What We Need to Know About Human Disaster Response

There is no doubt that we are going through a season of much higher fear, anxiety, and trauma with the COVID-19 crisis.  Our stressors are also multi-faceted and connected with concerns related to health, economics, and isolation… and now an uncertain and non-uniform re-opening. 

Even as we begin to work through the “peaks” medically and in terms of concern over our organization’s near-term financial health (due to the securing of a loan or the implementation of cost-reductions), the fact is that we will not just return to “normal”. 

Life as we knew it just a few months ago is likely at least a year away once we have an effective and widely available vaccine. 


“Life as we knew it just a few months ago is likely at least a year away once we have an effective and widely available vaccine.”

–Peter C. Atherton, PE 


Between then and now, however, there are things we need to know and steps we need to take to help ease concerns and come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient. 

What we need to know 

There will be a dip. 

No matter how well we have responded to this crisis as an individual, team, or organization to date, we will see a dip.  The fear, anxiety, and trauma we are experiencing is similar to that of a disaster. 

 

 

As shown in the graphic above, there is a natural human response to a disaster. 

It just makes sense too.  If we switch out the word “disaster” and adjust the timing, we experience a similar curve with adrenaline and mindset in response to a “major presentation” or “major project deliverable”.  

In this analogy, we have a “warning” that a deadline is coming, we ramp up focus and production and have “impact” as we make sacrifices with our normal day-to-day activities in order to deliver what’s needed and achieve “honeymoon” status once we’ve successfully done what we needed to do. 

There is then a dip the next day or over the next several days in both physical energy and our outlook.  Even when we’re confident that we performed well, we may question some things or wish we could have done better. In those instances, we can quickly return to “normal” with an enhanced feeling of accomplishment, and even more ready for the next presentation or project.  In cases where we didn’t perform well or know we could have done more, the dip may be greater and last longer until we are more resilient as a result.   

In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders and leadership teams have heeded the “warning” and taken “impact” and may soon be at a peak.  We also need to understand that we could have multiple peaks. 

The issue we must be aware of for COVID-19, however, is not short-term physical adrenaline – it’s longer-term psychological stress and strain, and even burnout.


What we need to do now 

First, we need to better understand what is happening and what’s likely to come next. 

Here is a link to a World Economic Forum Article that presents data and perspectives on what we’re up against in terms of a secondary epidemic of burnout and stress-related absenteeism in the workplace and includes the graphic presented above. 

My recommendation is to review this information openly with your leadership team and talk about how it applies. 

You should also: 

  • Talk about what you did right, what you wish you could do over, and what you would do differently if there’s a second or third wave.
  • Share about where you are individually and as a team.
  • Determine how you can best share and discuss this information with – and get feedback from – your managers and organization as a whole. 

 

If we want to be in position to effectively respond and even get ahead of the curve while avoiding a possible “second disaster” and period of disillusionment, we all need to know what’s likely to come next. 


“If we want to be in position to effectively respond and even get ahead of the curve while avoiding a possible ‘second disaster’ and period of disillusionment, we all need to know what’s likely to come next.”

–Peter C. Atherton, PE 


No matter how you’ve responded to date, taking the lead now as leaders and leadership teams gives us the best opportunity to connect with and walk-though the final phases of this crisis better, faster, stronger, and more resilient.  It is also our best path to enjoy the benefits of higher levels of employee engagement, loyalty, and retention long after we return to “normal”. 

Please reach out to me if you’d like to discuss more about this and outline strategies that can work best for you, your organization, and your clients during this critical period of change.

To your winning,

PS – Are you or your team feeling overwhelmed, or are you burning out? There is a big difference and each requires a different approach. Take this FREE quiz to find out where you stand and learn exactly how you can get back on track by clicking HERE.

PSS – Do you want to learn how to excel and prevent burnout in you and your organization?  Check out relevant and important chapters of my book “Reversing Burnout” for FREE by clicking HERE.  

Check out too the AEC Leadership Today Podcast designed exclusively for leaders who want to stay relevant and effective and help their firms grow and prosper during all times >>  HERE!

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with leaders and organizations to create greater growth and profits through better strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in the 21st century. Pete is also host of the AEC Leadership Today podcast.

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quiz are you overwhelmed 001

Are you feeling overwhelmed, or are you burning out?

There is a big difference and each requires a different approach. Take this FREE quiz to find out where you stand and learn exactly how you (and your team!) can get back on track.

quiz are you overwhelmed 001

Are you feeling overwhelmed, or are you burning out?

There is a big difference and each requires a different approach. Take this FREE quiz to find out where you stand and learn exactly how you (and your team!) can get back on track.

Getting Ahead of the Next Curve as a Leader and Team: What We Need to Know About Human Disaster Response