How To Be A Manager During A Time Of Grief

Managers need to use times of grief to find ways to strengthen their teams
Managers need to use times of grief to find ways to strengthen their teams
Image Credit: Riccardo Cuppini

There is no question about it: we are currently living in a time of almost unimaginable grief. There are always things that are making the members of your team feel sad and down. However, with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and the death and destruction that has come along with it, we are all feeling even more emotionally battered than ever before. As a manager who is responsible for a team of workers, you need to use your manager skills to understand what your team is currently going through. It is going to be up to you to help the members of your team deal with the grief that they are currently experiencing and help them to find a way to move forward.

Managers Need To Understand That Grief Is In More Places Than We Realize

As managers, we need to realize that because of the pandemic, many of our teammates have been suffering from some form of loss. Their loss may be the loss of a loved one, a business or job, even the loss of simple pleasures such as dining out. To make matters worse, nobody knows what is gone temporarily and what is gone forever. Every team member who shows up for work is managing some level of this heavy emotion. While it may be tempting for a manager to ignore this and keep a semblance of normalcy at work, in the long run, this will likely hurt your organization and team member’s daily experience. As a manager, it’s up to you to set the stage for how grief is accepted and managed within your company even if you don’t have any manager training in how to do this. Here are three ways that have been found to not only grieve yourself but also use this human experience as a way to strengthen your team.

Make Sure That You Lead With Authenticity

Managers need to know that at the root of powerful leadership lies vulnerability. Most managers think that they need to hide their grief, pain, or sadness. But it turns out that grief and the feelings of grief are a beautiful chance for you to be authentic and vulnerable with your team. We need to give up the idea of looking like a flawless manager. Being a vulnerable manager also means stepping up to ask for help. It means showing up at work and saying, “I’m going to do my best despite what is happening, but I need to lean on you for support.” The hardest thing for most managers to do is give away power, show tears or emotion. But the truth is, that is the strongest thing we can do.

Find Ways To Create A Culture Of Humanness

During the current pandemic, it is entirely possible that you may have family members who end up passing away. If this happens, it will undoubtedly be tough on you. You will find yourself grieving not only the loss of them but also the future moments you would have had together. It is at times like this that as a manager you can remind your team that life isn’t perfect, and that is OK. Often we tend to forget that we are humans, especially in business where so much emphasis is placed on building the brand, serving our audience, adjusting our product offerings, and increasing revenue. As a result, it can be too easy to lose sight of who we really are: people with needs and emotions.

Use Your Own Grief To Strengthen Your Team

Managers need to realize that grief can be used as an opportunity for team building, whether it be your internal staff or your company at large. We are all grieving, and when you, as a manager, are able to acknowledge this, it creates a sense of vulnerability within your team. People on your team can pick up tasks they haven’t done before when someone needs support. Team members can come together to work on a project to give another team member a little reprieve. This not only breeds stronger team members but it also instills a sense of comradery, and a “no soldier left behind” sort of mentality. What managers should be striving to do is to build a team atmosphere, not a “me” atmosphere.

What All Of This Means For You

During this time of pandemic, managers need to be aware of how things are going for the members of our team. With so many deaths around us, it is only natural that members of our team will be experiencing some sort of loss. When we realize this, we need to understand that things are not normal. We cannot continue on the way that things have been. Instead, we need to make adjustments. We need to acknowledge the world that everyone is now living in.

Loss can take on many different forms. Of course there is the loss of someone that we love, but there is also the loss of a job, a routine, or even simple pleasures. As managers we need to understand that it is ok to show vulnerability to the people that we work with. Our teams will respect us more when we do this. Don’t allow the loss you are experiencing to be lost within yourself. If you experience loss, feel free to open up with your team about how you are feeling. Grief exists. Because of this, as a manager you can use it to bring your team even closer together.

While the loss you are going through is painful, it can be used for good. You can share your story to inspire others to not give up, to connect with your team so they feel less alone, or to show others that you can persevere through anything.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When a team member experiences a loss, what should you as a manager do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So the big question that I have for you is what kind of boss are you currently working for? Right now it is very trendy to be a disruptive leader. These types of bosses have a take-no-prisoners management style that can both ignite new trends within the company while at the same time crushing the competition. However, it turns out that there is also a darker side to these types of bosses. If this describes your boss, do you know how to work with them?