Due, at least in part, to the convergence of a huge change in responsibly management with increased ‘survival stress’ brought on by the pandemic, employees are suffering record levels of mental distress. Whether it is a feeling of being overwhelmed with conflicting demands from work and home, or cascading toward the verge of full-blown burnout due to an inability to ‘turn-off’ at what should be the end of the day, some people are reaching their ‘stress saturation’ point.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I believe in coaching! It leverages external knowledge and resources to significantly contribute to a thriving and positively evolving work environment. But if using external coaches is as far as you go, you’re probably missing essential components that will help ensure a healthy and inspiring atmosphere – where everyone feels included, understood, and supported… and therefore, better able to take steps to manage their stress levels.
Structured Peer-to-Peer Dialogue & Support
Structured conversations provide an outlet for team mates to release their anxiety in a healthy and incremental manner. It allows even the most introverted on the team to connect with a buddy safely. During a Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) on this topic, one of my clients commented, “If you have to say, ‘this is a safe space’, it probably isn’t”.
Especially in a time when both physical and mental isolation is taking a massive toll, applying a structures approach to encouraging individual employees to connect with each other offers everyone the chance, no matter their position or level in the organisation, to feel effectively supported. Structured peer-to-peer dialogue can go far to making sure that no one falls through the cracks.
There is a widely held belief that if we approach peer-to-peer programs with good intentions… if we outline the purpose and define the goals clearly, the rest will take care of itself. This could not be farther from reality. As well as 1) setting up guidelines for the program, we must 2) create a structure that includes the whole population, 3) set acceptable behavioural norms, 4) model the required interaction, and finally, 4) we must ensure that staff have the tools & knowledge they need to succeed.
An easy starting point is to provide a list of topics for the structured interaction (much like we do during training programs) and a guide that outlines the type of behaviour required to ensure success.
Structured conversations, whether attached to external or internal mentoring, coaching, accountability partnerships, or peer support programs, can be a refreshing source of energy. They are another vehicle for uniting your team, enlivening empathy, and invigorating meaningful exchange.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about structured conversations or the methodology.