Executive Extra

Monthly content focused on leadership exclusively for the Executive members of NAA.

Leading During Traumatic and Triggering Events

Tragic events that occur in the world around us, such as murders, violence, serious injustice, or cultural breaches can have an intense impact on us at work.

Those events are especially likely to be traumatic when they are intense, multiple, occurring to someone we can personally relate to or targeting members of a social identity group that we are a member of. Current events that repeat or remind us of past traumas can trigger us back into old, unresolved, or ongoing trauma and stress. Examples can include: police killing Black and Brown people or allowing them to die in police custody, violence against women and LGBTQ individuals, school shootings, or church bombings or fires, especially if any of these are socially or legally sanctioned.

When these things happen, we can expect some of our colleagues to be hurting, and to bring that hurt with them to work. We can also expect other colleagues to be less impacted by the event, not impacted or to be unaware that the event was potentially traumatic or triggering for people around them. Colleagues' disparate experiences of the trauma and their disparate associate needs need to be addressed, and managers and leaders can play a key role in doing that.

When managers and leaders take no action, there can be both immediate and long-term costs to individuals, the team, and the organization as a whole, ranging from minor costs like colleagues bumping into or withdrawing from each other, or major costs like society losing confidence in the organization.

In the wake of tragedy, it's the responsibility of managers and leaders to expect the event to have an impact on some of their team, to understand and accept the many ways their team may be impacted, and to foster an inclusive environment where team members can practice self-care, and ask for and receive support to heal.

A document from Diversity Equity Inclusiveness Consulting, from which the above info was also pulled from, offers tips for leading during traumatic and triggering events.

Courtesy of NAA.


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