How to Handle a Crisis in the Workplace

The reality is there are crises happening every day. Working for a company that’s experienced a layoff, a lawsuit, or another trauma can feel like swimming in the ocean. It gets hard to keep track of where you’re going, and sometimes, it’s challenging even to stay afloat.

These situations get even more complicated when you’re managing other employees through the chaos. Not only do you have to minimize your levels of stress, but you also need to help your team, all while maintaining productivity and morale.

While a crisis feels overwhelming, there are some steps to help you move past obstacles and support your team, amid even the most tumultuous environment.

1. Organize the Chaos

During this crisis, chances are you’ve got a lot of new responsibilities and tasks on your own plate. Start with a crisis management plan so you can reorganize and rebuild. 

It’s essential to do everything you can to maintain a normal business routine. Sticking to your routine helps you stay afloat and instills confidence in your team that the situation is under control. So while you may feel a sudden blizzard of panic and urgency, you set the standard for the rest of your team. 

Delegate tasks according to your team’s strengths, and ask for help from your employees. They need and want to help!

2. Be Open and Honest

This might seem obvious, but sometimes our natural reaction during a crisis is to withdraw. Instead, acknowledge the tragedy and provide information. You don’t need to wait until you have all the information to share an update. 

Share what the company did or will do. Acknowledge any lack of information and explain when the information will be available. When you keep a constant stream of information, your team feels informed, included, and valued. 

Honesty plays a powerful role in being open with your team. You’re respecting your team when you share honestly with them. When you’re honest with them, they’ll be honest with you and trust your company. 

3. Actions Speak Louder

Remember the saying we heard as children? 

“Actions speak louder than words.” 

Leading a successful business is not just the words you speak …it’s the actions you take. During a crisis, use your actions along with your words to provide comfort to your team. Protect your employees from further harm, and media. 

It’s a good idea to check in and update your team every couple of days, if not daily. Take the time to check in with each person and ask “How are YOU holding up?” Your presence will be reassuring and they’ll appreciate having face time with you.

You can also support your team by encouraging times of reminiscing, holding meetings to share concerns, and “saying goodbye” rituals.

4. Find Hope

Finding hope in the midst of crisis is the key to success. Despite the trauma your team experienced, there are opportunities for hope. As a leader, take the time to provide comforting information about the victim’s family. 

For your employees, you can point out what they did right, reinforcing their positive thinking, and thank them for their help in managing the crisis.

These tips can’t prevent a crisis, but they can help you and your team get through one. 

Click here to download your FREE crisis management checklist

How You Can Help Others Overcome Anything in Life

The topic of resilience is close to my heart as I am reflecting on the recent “Poway Synagogue Shooting” in my hometown of Poway, CA. It is impossible to understand the emotions associated with a mass shooting until you are in the midst of the fallout of one. Families, communities, and organizations have come together and demonstrated a resilience that is truly astounding.

Whether people realize it or not, this kind of strength and resilience to bounce back from tragedy is inside of every person, and although we bounce back we are never the same.

From the day we were born, we begin to learn how to overcome and respond to a crisis.

Though my childhood was tumultuous and traumatic for most of it, I can look back today and see how in the midst of trials there was a greater story building strength and resilience in me.

The following statements are taken from “The Resilience Test“.

1. I believe I was loved by my parent/guardian when I was a child.

Reflect back on your childhood. Can you say you believe you were loved by your parents? While sometimes you may not have felt loved, do you believe that you were loved?

For myself I know I was loved, but more than often I didn’t feel it. There is a difference. As an adult, I can look back and say “yes, they did love me.” Even though they didn’t show it in a positive way. My mother was an alcoholic and abused pain medication. She didn’t have the capability of showing me love in a positive way. However, I know she loved me.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

2. When I was a child, someone other than my parents helped take care of me and seemed to love me.

Did you have a relative, a friend’s parent, or a neighbor help care for you? Did you feel loved, safe and cared for by someone other than your parents?

While I was a child I had a friend’s mother that included me in their family. I ate, helped, prepare meals, did chores and regularly spent the night at this family’s house. They treated me like one of their own children. I knew I was safe and felt loved when I was with that family.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

3. My parents and/or family shared playful and joyful experiences with me as an infant.

Do you have pictures of yourself as a baby laughing and having fun? Did you hear stories of playful, fun or joyous times when you were an infant?

I have seen pictures of myself as a baby, laughing and having fun. My aunts would tell me stories that they use to play with me all the time when I was very small. Even if this didn’t happen all the time, you were still building resilience as you were joyfully played with and loved as an infant.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

4. There was a relative in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried as a child.

Was there someone who tried to make you feel better about a situation? A relative that wanted to make things better for you somehow?

For me, this is a “sometimes” answer. I remember a time after I was scolded, my grandmother came and gave me a hug and said it would be okay. That little bit can bring hope to the smallest child. Grandparents or older relatives have more maturity and can bring a bigger perspective to a situation. Sometimes, when parents are just overwhelmed at spilled milk, a grandparent might brush it off as just an accident. They may even laugh at the situation, while they help clean up the mess.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

5. As a child, my neighbors or friends’ parents seemed to like me.

There is a difference between like and love. Did you feel welcome at a friend’s house? Did the neighbor smile or wave to you when you were outside? Did the neighbor say thank you with a big smile for bringing their paper to the doorstep?

It’s the little things that count and build resilience.

For me, there was a woman across the street that often needed help cleaning her house. After I was finished with my chores at home, I would ask her if she needed any help. She poured on the praise when I would clean the dishes, mop the floor or dust the living room. This genuine appreciation of what I did for her gave me confidence. It showed me that I was valuable and she was glad I was there.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

6. Teachers, coaches, youth leaders, or ministers were there to help me when I was a child.

Did you have someone outside your family that you could talk to? Was there a teacher that took an interest in you and wanted to see you succeed?

Outside support is essential to building resilience and success in a person.

For me, there were a couple of teachers that seemed to really enjoy having me in their class. I would spend extra time in classrooms where the teacher really cared about me. This only fortified my relationship with this person and allowed me a safe place to talk openly. I also had a Girl Scout leader that made all of our troop feel like we were special and could come to her at any time. My questions were never considered stupid. This woman even called my home to offer help and support, saying I was worried about my mom. Unfortunately, my mother took that as betrayal and I was severely scolded for it. I never revealed this to my scout leader, but she always took the time to ask how I was doing.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

7. Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.

Was there someone who was interested in your grades? Did anyone praise you for a great paper or the lead in a play? If you were doing poorly in a subject, did they offer help?

I always felt I had to do good in school, or else. It wasn’t that my parents cared, from a supportive way, rather I was expected to do well or there would be consequences.
I remember bringing home failing grades in spelling. My mother was determined to improve those grades. I would spend hours practicing the spelling words for the next week at the end of our dining room table. She would test me each night and I would have to write those words over and over again until I got them correct on the next test she gave. I started to get 100%, but it was based on fear. I just used memorization to get through these weekly spelling tests. My father took great pride in my math ability and tried to help when necessary. Math was “different” then and I ended up teaching him a couple of things. We still laugh about it to this day.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

8. As a child, my family, neighbors, and friends talked often about making our lives better.

Was there an attitude of improvement for yourself or your family? Were there goals that were shared?

I often heard people talking positively about improving their lives. When you are surrounded by negative conversations such as, “Our lives are bad”, “It will never get better”, “I can’t change anything”… it has a major impact on how you view your own set of circumstances. When you listen to the adults around you talking about changes they can make to improve their life or your own, it has a positive impact on you. My parents would talk about saving for a better future, a bigger house, better cars, vacation, etc. These all point to living a better life. Then when those things did happen, it gave encouragement that I too could plan and make changes in my own life for the better.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

9. I had rules in my home and they were expected to be kept.

Did you have chores? Was there a curfew? Were you taught and expected to use your manners? Were the consequences for your actions spelled out?

There were definitely rules in my home, and if not obeyed there were consequences. While by today’s standards those consequences would be considered extreme, I knew what those rules were and understood the consequences if I choose not to follow those rules. Rules are necessary and provided for a stable environment. They also set the stage for being an adult. Society is based on rules. If you don’t pay your electric bill, you won’t have lights at night. Simple. There are no excuses. It’s very simple and spelled out. There are moral, ethical and legal rules that all should follow. I learned early on that your actions and decisions dictated the outcome of your life.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

10. I could almost always find a trusted person to talk to when I felt really bad.

Was there someone in your life could you go to when things were bad? Can you identify someone that offered wise counsel?

It is important not to confuse wise counsel versus having a person “fix” our problem. No one else is responsible to “fix” our issues.

For me as a child, I could always reach out to my friend’s mother. I always talked to my best friend and if my friend ended up worried after we talked she would go and talk to her mom. While at first, this seemed to be a betrayal, it was not. When the situation is more than a child can bear, an adult should be brought in. Looking back, I often felt betrayed, why? Because the situation was about to change. That meant I was going to have to do something different. That’s uncomfortable. It is so much easier to complain, whine and blame others. It’s also easier to stay in a bad situation because it’s what you know, even if it’s bad. Having a trusted friend and adult is necessary to help us grow.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

11. As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.

Did you ever receive praise for a job well done? Were you the go-to-person in your family, organization, school, etc?

I can answer this with a capital YES. Even with everything that I endured in my life, I was definitely this person to so many. I took great pride in being organized, could see how things needed to be done efficiently, and liked that people asked me to help.
I would work really hard to get praise and feedback that I was a “good” kid. When others see an asset in you, you can take that truth and realize how capable you are in your own circumstances. Turn that can-do attitude on yourself. See in yourself what others see in you. Learn that you are a “good” person, and loved.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

12. Even as a child I was independent and go-getter.

Could you take on a project and complete it without much oversight? When you saw a problem did you take initiative to help solve the problem?

This is a built-in resilience trait. This automatic response is part of your self-confidence. Some people are just wired this way.

I am one of these types of people. I have a sense of justice and want to see fairness exhibited to all people. This trait is also learned. Growing up with an alcoholic mother, I found myself needing to take care of my younger brother. I didn’t want him to experience the neglect that I did. To ensure he was cared for, I took the initiative to make sure he had lunch money, got up for school, had clean clothes and ate breakfast. This spilled into the rest of my life. If something or someone needed to be taken care of, the only person I could count on was myself. This trait ended up serving me well. I usually got any job I interviewed for, I was promoted early and frequently and started numerous organizations and ministries to serve others.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

13. I believe life is what I made it.

Did you feel responsible for you? Were you able to examine your actions and evaluate the role you played in any given situation?

For better or worse, I was always blamed for anything negative that went on my home. I was the easy scapegoat. As a small child I really felt that I was responsible for everything, even my mother’s drinking. It didn’t help that she told me I was the reason she drank. By the time I hit 9 years old I was seeking out wise counsel. Asking those trusted adults, if this was really my fault. I was blessed to have people that cared about me and how I viewed myself. Because of my sense of justice, I would question why something was my fault. This led me to the ability to sort out what was true and what was a lie. I also recognized when my behavior or actions exacerbated the situation. I would think of how I could do things differently and change the outcome. I could choose to be happy, find the good in all situations and put things into place so I wouldn’t make that same mistake again.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

 

14. There was a spiritual belief system in my home growing up.

Did your parents take you to church? Were there conversations about God in your home? Did you witness and take part in prayer?

For the better part of my childhood, we were lukewarm Christians at best. We usually went to church on Easter and Christmas. We said the same prayer at dinner every night and another at bedtime. However, there were stretches of time where we went to church weekly and then wouldn’t attend for years at a time. This was very difficult for me. I had a need to be in the presence of God. When my family wasn’t attending church, on Sundays I would knock on the neighbor’s door to see if their family was going to church and ask if I could join them. I attended many different churches, because of this. Jesus was always talking to me. I would spend hours singing Jesus Loves Me on my swing set in our backyard. At one point, I even asked my parents to attend a Christian school. I thank God every day for his diligent presence in my life. I would have never made it through my childhood had I not witnessed his love and grace.

I would have to answer this statement, yes. That’s a resilience point in my favor.

Hopefully, now you see a clearer picture of all the positive results of your childhood experiences. It is through this that all can learn to see the hope of God’s faithfulness. Resilience is not just stumbled upon, it is forged in the trials and tribulations of life, causing us to become mature and complete (James 1:3-4).

Taking this perspective, you can help others see the light at the end of the tunnel, the gold in the rough, and the hope of a better tomorrow. Being a resilient person requires learning how to reflect on that which made you stronger and applying it in your current situation.

Click Here to Take the Resilience Test

The Resilience Test

The resilience test is a series of 14 statements, reflecting on how our childhood circumstances developed our resilience. Let’s take a moment, to understand where this deep-seated resilience comes from in our life. 

This test is designed to help you see a more clear picture of all the positive results of your childhood experiences. It is through this that all can learn to see the hope of God’s faithfulness. Resilience is not just stumbled upon, it is forged in the trials and tribulations of life, causing us to become mature and complete (James 1:3-4).

Taking this perspective, you can help others see the light at the end of the tunnel, the gold in the rough, and the hope of a better tomorrow. Being a resilient person requires learning how to reflect on that which made you stronger and applying it in your current situation.

powered by Typeform

I took the test myself and wrote about my experiences and how they strengthened resilience in my own life. Click here to read it now.


5 Critical Emotional 1st Aid Principles

One of the many things that life promises us are both the peaks of joy and the valley of a crisis. Whether emotional, physical, spiritual or mental, crisis comes in all shapes and forms. This is not something to fear when there is hope for a better tomorrow and you have the skills and knowledge to work through a crisis.

My crisis hit when I learned my sister had been brutally tortured, taken captive, and murdered, just days before Christmas.

My life has never been the same, and I am committed to helping others be ready to help people through crisis. That’s why I put together the “5 Critical Emotional 1st Aid Principles” that helped me survive and continue to fill me with hope every day. Applying these steps in your own life and offering them to others will bring hope and healing that so many of us desire.

1. FINDING YOUR SUPPORT PILLARS

In this crisis of my sister’s death, I was the go-to person and the rock for everyone in my family, even for those who I did not have a strong relationship with.

Because I was the rock, I had very little support for myself. I knew that if I showed weakness the whole system would fall apart and the last thing I wanted was for my family to spin out of control.

My peace came in seeking out trusted friends that I could lean on. These women would listen and remind me that I could not take on everyone’s pain. It was just as important for me to talk about the murder, the family dynamics, my own guilt, and the need to support my family. These women gave me permission to just feel, to express my pain, frustration, and anger, without judgment.

It’s amazing how just talking about a situation helps. Speaking about the pain in a safe environment with no judgment was a relief. These ladies have become responsibility partners that provide an outside perspective on many situations. We share each other’s burdens, hopes, and dreams. More importantly, they are not relatives but sisters in Christ.

When facing a crisis event, having those friends or supporters who can walk with you is critical. 
If you are not the one in crisis, you can be that friend for someone else. Start by finding someone that you can authentically share with how you are feeling and thinking or if you already have that, try finding someone that you be a listening ear and support for.

2. REALIZING TIME DOES NOT HEAL WOUNDS

The old saying that time heals all wounds is a false and destructive statement. It implies that our issues will simply disappear one day in the future. This is a problem when we realize that healing is so much more than the idea of forgetting and moving on.

We could debate the word “heal”, but for me, the time allowed for me to change my perspective and it was after that happened, I saw the healing taking place.

As time went by, the event was not so raw in my emotions. The shock wore off. I compare the healing process to a cut on the finger. At first, you are aware of the immense pain and shock, depending on how bad the cut is. Even after the initial triage, the wound remains sensitive to the touch.

I wish I had been able to see the damage in my brain at each moment, but I couldn’t. To see the stages of healing on a finger is easy, but in the brain, you don’t have that clear perspective.

The passing of time helped me to gain more information and organize the events in my brain, making better sense of what happened. Perhaps I  will never understand the big question, “Why?” But with time, I was able to accept what happened, and safely move on with my life. It wasn’t about forgetting, it was about acknowledging what had happened.

3. GOD WAS MY ROCK

I leaned on God. God was the constant in my darkest hours. We say so casually that God is always with you. You may have a mental awareness of God being with you but many don’t understand the depth of that truth. The support, love, and character of God is the primary reason I have come out on the other side of this tragedy. Not because of anything I have done, but what He has done in me.

I  didn’t always feel His presence along the journey and that was okay.

Even when I was in my darkest pit, I could still see. Why is that? I could see the pain, the hurt, the overwhelmingness of the totality of our situation because there was light. God was standing with me in the darkness and I could identify each and every situation of pain. God lit the way so I could see what was all around me. Then he gave me the courage to approach each of the emotions and overcome them.

God led me to take small steps to reach each of those dark obstacles and then overcome them, one by one.

He would then light up the issue He wanted me to work on right now. Once I surrendered to His will he created a pathway of healing, one far better than I could have mapped out for myself. God loved me so much that at times his comfort was still and only illuminated my current place. I knew then it was a time to rest. Stop and slow down. Build up my strength to tackle the next issue. He knew best that the next step would be more than I could handle. So he stopped, held me back and fortified me with his protection and strength. Then and only then would the light of Christ illuminate the next step.

When I had the feeling of darkness and couldn’t see a way forward, I turned to scripture. For instance, Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still my child and know that I am near. Take rest in my presence. For I am building you up for the next fight”. Praise God for His word, this scripture gave me hope and favor throughout the lonely days in my journey.

4. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME

You heal more when you help others. When you get out of yourself and give to others is when you get filled up the most. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something. Each situation teaches something new about yourself, the world, and family.

The best thing I did was look to help others. I started to ask God, “What do you want me to do with all of ‘this’?” Two years had passed and I was feeling the tug that God was calling me to use what I had learned to help others. I went through a process of learning and exploring before I began to start my own career centered around crisis response.

I started helping in a program to support children from going into foster care. A respite program that gave parents time to get their act together and then be able to be reunited with their children. Then I went into biblical counseling, then onto crisis intervention.

Each venture was a step in healing but also in learning. Each opportunity to serve strengthened me and led me closer to what I felt was my purpose.

After years of observing how crisis intervention worked in the world, I discovered a component that was missing. God. That’s when I wrote a program that married crisis intervention with God’s promises and created Seeking Hope. I am still involved in volunteer projects. I continue to learn each day and thank God for his infinite wisdom to know what I need.

5. GO WORKOUT

My emotional well being was very much determined how I felt physically through out each day. Many people struggle to stay physically healthy when they are emotionally damaged.

My first day back at the gym, I walked into class, somber and fighting my inner questions of, “Why am I here? I don’t want to be here…yes you do…you have to stay.” As I was getting set up for class a friend came up and said, “Did you hear what happened”? I thought to myself, “Of course I had…it was my sister. Are you kidding me?”

I was so preoccupied with my own issues I didn’t even think of any other issue that could be going on in the world. I immediately started to cry and left the room. As she followed me out, she said, “Yes, it’s troubling, but we’ll find another gym.” The gym had given notice in my absence that it was closing. I became acutely aware that my pain wasn’t everyone else’s pain and that the world keeps moving on.

Responsibilities keep going on, even in the midst of a crisis. Most jobs, friends, and associates understand a crisis and give you some space for a short time. But that doesn’t last. I had to force myself to get up and get moving once again.

Everyone wants to help in a crisis and meals are the easiest and most common way to show love and support. But I have to say, if I ever saw another pasta casserole again in a year it would be too soon. We were grateful for all the support and resources but we just couldn’t do another pasta or pizza again. That much starch when you are feeling emotionally drained is so hard on the system. When I started to make meals, with solid protein, fresh vegetables, and fruits, I started to feel better, it was vital to my emotional stability.

Once I reflected and processed these “5 Critical Emotional 1st Aid Principles” My life has never been the same. Applying these principles in your own life and offering them to others will bring hope and healing that so many of us desire.