The invisible threat to your agency. I’ve owned my agency for 25 years, and we’ve never faced anything like 2020. A pandemic, having to abandon our offices, a recession, and the social unrest that much of the world has experienced for the last several months. All of them have tested and taxed our leadership chops like nothing we’ve lived through before.
Each of them on their own poses a threat, but the combination of all of the 2020 bizarre realities has created what I think is the most dangerous threat of all. What makes the threat even more insidious is that it can go undetected for a long time until it’s really taken hold.
The threat is the fragility of your team’s mental health, not to mention your own.
Many agency owners are talking to me about the overall malaise among their team members. I think when the pandemic hit, we all stood tall and were determined to endure the 2-3 month lockdown. But as we approach the 9th month of this, no one is unaffected. Productivity is lagging, tempers are flaring, and the fatigue is hard to ignore. We are all juggling more at home/work than is humanly possible, and we’ve been doing it for the better part of a year. This isn’t a problem we can just wish away or ignore.
Here’s how some agencies are helping their teams hold it together.
Mandatory days off: Some agencies are shutting down on certain days or limiting access to email/servers after 5 pm to force their employees to take some downtime. Other agencies are strongly encouraging their people to use their vacation time rather than lose it.
The zoom cocktail parties are passe but fun is still being had: Most agencies abandoned the zoom cocktail hours sometime during the summer. But they are finding ways to be creative/have fun with contests (pumpkin carving, BBQ cookouts, etc.).
Giving employees access to mental health resources: Many agencies are reminding their employees that their insurance covers mental health treatments and even providing employees with a list of providers.
Talking about it: The truth is, most of what is stressing out your team has nothing to do with work. But it is still seeping into the agency and impacting our work. Investing in meaningful conversations with your team members and talking about it as a group (crowdsourcing solutions) is helpful and healthy. It’s not just your employees. It’s you too. I feel it. You are bone tired. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’ve been surviving on fumes for a while now. And unfortunately, it isn’t over yet. Whether your agency is incredibly busy and scrambling to manage the growth or you are still struggling to rebuild after this past spring – you are worn out.
No one is going to mandate you do something about this. If I thought you’d listen – I would. But you’ve got to recognize that you’re dangerously close to crashing and do what you need to do to refuel and replenish.
For some of you, that might be a complete detox from your agency for a few days and hiding out in a cabin. For others, it will be getting on a plane and being anywhere but home. You’re going to have to self-diagnose. But I’m telling you – this can’t wait until you take time off in late December.
I know you’re looking longingly at 2021. But don’t ignore this threat in 2020.
Lovingly contributed by Drew McLellan of AMI