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Susan Comfort & Mo Abdullah: Coronavirus & Team Care
Susan Comfort & Mo Abdullah can help your team prevent burnout, increase effectiveness and resilience and stay healthy, productive and joyful. Even today. Susan is founder of Nonprofit Wellness and Mo is founder of Culture Energized. (Part of our virtual #20NTC coverage)
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welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio coverage of 20 NTC. The 2020 non profit Technology Conference. As you know, the conference had to be canceled, but we are persevering virtually throughout through Zoom were sponsored at 20 and T C by Cougar Mountain Software Benali Fund. Is there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits? Tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant Manton for a free trial with me now our Susan Comfort and Mo Abdullah. Susan is founder at non profit Wellness and Mo is founder of culture. Energized Susan. No. Welcome.
Thank you [00:00:57.70] spk_4:
for having us. [00:01:43.84] spk_0:
Thank you. Thanks for working this out virtually. Um and I know that you’re each well and safe Susan in D. C. And Mo in Denver. I’m glad to know that everybody’s well and families were good. Um, your mom, your NTC topic was team care, not self care, building resilience, resiliency in an era of burnout. But we’re gonna convert this into, ah, special episode of non profit radio and thank you for your willingness to do that. So I’m gonna get it out quicker to our audience. And, uh, we’re gonna talk about team care in the era of Corona virus pandemic. Um, mothers there. Why don’t you get us started? I mean, we can, in fact keep the team together, keep the team energized and efficient and functioning well, even though our work lives, Air totally upended. [00:02:35.67] spk_4:
Yeah, it can be done, but it takes intentionality, right? So and also understanding that it’s going to look different. So it can’t be business as usual when we moved to remote working. Let’s understand that there’s kids at home, right that need homeschooling that, um, talk about acceptability. And does everyone have Internet but then would have access to a computer to do meetings? So if you just say all right and what was really working from home and don’t put intentional, inclusive practice, this is in place. That’s what makes it a little bit more challenging, but it can be done. There [00:02:40.41] spk_3:
are a [00:02:40.50] spk_4:
lot of businesses that are doing it carefully and have been doing it successfully for a really long time. [00:03:05.24] spk_0:
Susan is revealing that they’re not only Children at home, but they’re also pets. I’ve been doing off almost 30 of these interviews. I’ve had, uh, had a child walked by, thankfully clothed, but I’m ready for the naked. I’m ready for the naked two year old coming across the screen in minutes. You know, [00:03:05.58] spk_3:
we’re ready to [00:03:06.66] spk_0:
do enough of these, and it’s bound to happen [00:03:38.24] spk_3:
from podcast of video right away. I agree with with Milo that it takes intentionality to build team when team can’t be together. And frankly, nonprofits have dealt with this for a long time with distributed workforces. When nonprofits have folks strewn across the country of the world when nonprofits can’t afford, um, expensive office space anymore, they go, Virtual said. Non profits have actually been pioneering this kind of team building in a way, because we’re always low budget, we’re always scrapping. Girl is traveling for far flung, um, creations have had to figure it out, of course, to and governments. But the nonprofit sector is sort of uniquely suited to figure this out. [00:04:19.24] spk_0:
We’re recording on Wednesday, April 1st, so I’m gonna assume that organizations have already figured out the Internet access problem. You know, if there were people who didn’t have Internet access, I’m gonna assume by now that they do. But there could still be a mo was saying there. Ah, that could still be technology issues even going even now, three weeks into, um, being at home. Do you think or are we? Are We passed the technology issues, too? [00:06:32.24] spk_3:
There are always gonna be technology issues, right? And I think, what Low and I moan I met when we worked for Play Works, which is a recess organization working most of the kids in schools. But what we learned is that the social emotional capability or the emotional intelligence that people have is really nurtured interactively through personal person contact. That does not have to mean touching contact that could mean words that are expressed, you know, spoken or written, or even a high five, you know, or an elbow bump or a cheer were, You know these things don’t have to happen in person. So when you think about team care and the importance of sure everybody has to take care of their cells, But in the nonprofit sector, we’re really bad at taking care of ourselves. We’re really good at taking care of other people or the world over not so good at taking care of ourselves. So telling a non profit worker that they need to up their self care is not gonna be ineffective strategy figuring out how we can systemically create tools and systems that effect team care where we can all take care of each other. That’s what’s gonna be the game changer for non profits, because it will encourage our own self care, hold accountability to others and build the team in the process. Because you know what happens when we talk about wellness, we make ourselves vulnerable. I’m telling you what’s going on with my body or my mental health, and that makes me vulnerable in some way. I can keep myself safe, but it’s still telling you what’s going on with my body was just personal. So if I’m making myself vulnerable, what bring a Brown says is that then inspires empathy. Because you have a body, you understand, you know what I could be going through and then that builds. Trust on what most workplaces are challenged by is a lack of trust, and so if you can figure out howto build trust, then you’ll have better automatically team care because you’ll give each other the benefit of the doubt. You’ll trust each other to have each other’s back. You’ll know that most doing the best she can, etcetera, but you’re it’s not gonna have that trust if everyone is off fighting their own battles in their own little zoom worlds or computer boxes. [00:07:08.75] spk_0:
All right, so, Moe, why don’t we, uh why don’t you get us started with some intentionality around team care? You both have talked about the intentionality. Let’s get into some details that people can raise as discussion items in there are in in there. I was gonna stay in their offices in their in their meetings, Or they can implement themselves if they’re if they’re the CEO. You know what started with some concrete ideas, please? [00:08:01.34] spk_4:
Yeah, well, I think one of the first things to recognize is that communication is going to look different, right? When you’re in person, personal person conversations, you can read body language. You can see it was really stressed out. But overall computer screen, that’s really, really challenging to do so. One of the first things you have to do is you have to set the New Lord. Um, and one of those norms should be around respecting boundaries, allowing, uh, you’re always to block out, um, parts of their calendar to get done. So maybe they block out stuff on the calendar saying, I’m gonna be home schooling my kids or I need to take a walk during this time and respecting those boundaries. Another thing is sending a gnome around. How many meetings did people have per day when we start moving to remorse? Working Everyone was over. Communicate. Everyone’s meeting is super duper important. But then you end up having people sitting down for 4 to 5 hours, meeting after meeting after meeting and after two. You’re really no longer productive. So really setting some boundaries around how many meetings were having and respecting people’s of boundaries as faras blocking out time. [00:08:34.14] spk_0:
Why don’t we feel, what with this question, why do we feel like we need to have more meetings when were distributed just because we’re no longer physically close? So we were trying to compensate. So now all of a sudden, we gotta have meetings with people, you know. We used to just meet monthly or weekly. Now we gotta meet Ellie is it will be overcome [00:08:47.18] spk_3:
and singing [00:08:48.88] spk_4:
a lot of people. It’s a trust thing, right? Like if I don’t see you, how do I know that you’re working? Um, we need to have meetings. A lot of people think that [00:08:57.29] spk_3:
people [00:08:57.64] spk_4:
would communicate right is being able to see someone face to face. But the cool thing about remote working is that there’s things that exist, like flak, using chat, using email’s on and also understanding what our meetings for right. If it’s just to tell people stuff, it’s just big enough mint. You can do that. I’m a different platform. Meeting should be around creating discussion accident questions until knowing that religion a point you’re making. What, What is the purpose of meetings? Who are we having it? Um, you know, just keeping get at a decent time. So we don’t want to be having meetings for two hours. Every meeting. Some evenings are just for 30 minutes with the central people, and sometimes it’s a larger discussion that you need tohave, which make a little bit longer [00:09:52.84] spk_0:
motion. One of those boundaries include the use of texting while we’re all remote, like texting is forbidden. Nor is only for emergencies or something of that are you? [00:09:58.24] spk_3:
Let me be a cultural thing. That’s not something that one person can dictate what the Norma’s like. That’s gonna be a culture for every we get a lot of culture right Culture energizes most company finds about building a culture of well being. The culture is different everywhere. It’s just the way things are done here, right? So if texting is part of your normal work culture, it should be now as well. But we can’t say what the boundaries should be for any workplace, because that’s up to the workplace to set. But the the actual process of creating those boundaries is a perfect way to build trust. So what you just said, tony, is what the boss should be asking their employees. They should say, Hey, you know, while we’re on this Corona virus worked from home rotation, should we be texting? And then his employees will say, Hell, no or please yes or whatever. But the point is that we’re talking about our presence is we’re talking about our limitations, and we’re deciding as a group what that culture should be. Not the boss listening to this non profit radio podcast and saying more, Susan said we shouldn’t tax or we should definitely just depends on with it. [00:11:06.90] spk_0:
I was trying to box you in, put you in an awkward position. I just did. And you, uh, you got out. Okay, That was my [00:11:12.69] spk_3:
concrete things folks could do to that. Okay, even when we’re not in crisis. [00:11:17.33] spk_0:
All right, go ahead. Well, let’s stick with the current. Uh, let’s try to keep it relevant. Oh, the crisis that we are. Okay, What else? What else have you got? Susan, [00:11:26.54] spk_3:
The important thing is again. It’s not that we should never talk about self care. It’s that we should talk about it within the context of we’re gonna support each other. So what I like to say and behind me is even is that red and blue makes purple. Like when we talk about physical health and mental health. [00:11:42.60] spk_0:
Now wait, Susan, everybody, everybody is not going to see the video. [00:11:46.59] spk_3:
But this way is when you, when you talk about [00:11:48.82] spk_0:
physician, described it [00:13:18.12] spk_3:
mental health. Then that creates team health. Because, like I said, we make ourselves vulnerable. So if we just ask each other, not just how are you doing or what’s getting in the way, but like focused action initiative answers or questions like, How are you taking care of your mental health or what do you do that works to get you moving during the day. And if workers team members answer these questions with each other, you magical things happen right once. One, they’re focused on action on non things that work. It’s got appreciative inquiry. What’s working about right now? You can keep that going more easily than starting anew. Habit. Appreciative inquiry. Sharing about yourself like, Hey, I like to go from a TRO. Walks. Well, maybe there’s somebody else on the team that likes to go for nature walks. Well, then you could schedule your next call on a nature walk you over there and your team member over there. Maybe there’s somebody who likes to ride bikes. Well, now you know who to go to when you need a new bike shop, right? You find out all of these similarities about how people take care of themselves, and that builds that trust. And Moe was just talking about We have all these dumb meetings and we were already bad of meetings and nonprofits to begin with. Now we’re having done long meetings online. This is a terrible situation, but it’s because we’re not trusting that people are working. But if we can build the trust so that folks have authentic communication with each other. No, I’m not gonna be at that meeting is after home school my kids. But I will be online for two hours after bedtime to get your memo done right. They’re with honesty and with of compassion. [00:13:43.88] spk_0:
Yeah, mo this this idea of vulnerability building trust it’s This has come up in a couple of NTC conversations that I’ve had people feel that being vulnerable makes is a sign of weakness. You’re you’re revealing some flaw or fall to our shortcoming that you’ve got. But it’s I think it’s 100 degrees from that. Being vulnerable is a sign of strength. [00:14:50.90] spk_4:
Exactly, you know, in it And it it’s so powerful when leadership does it first right. You allow people to be able to make mistakes and follow your lead. And so as a leader, one of the first things if you haven’t already done it already do a team building exercise. And in that people the exercise understand how the people like to be communicated towards and as a leader also share some of the challenges that you have and also some of the things that worked really well for you and allow your team to follow the lead. So I know for me when it comes to meetings, one signals past, like, 40 minutes. I need to be able to take a break like it’s gonna be really, really tough for me and for other people, it could be, Hey, I am really shy and speaking up. Even though that might be a group norm to speak up, that might be really challenging for me to do that. Is it okay if we can utilize the chat box? Um, at some point, doing during our meeting and just creating a little bit more dialogue and getting people comfortable because once everyone knows how you communicate in the communication is going to be 10 times better and you’re not gonna get mad at people because [00:15:06.37] spk_3:
you [00:15:06.56] spk_4:
were so that they are, you know, not replying to emails or not speaking up for not being engaged. Instead, you can have a little bit more empathy and be able to move. [00:15:18.42] spk_0:
Is there a team building exercise? You can suggest you can explain in just a couple of minutes. [00:15:25.52] spk_4:
Yeah. Um, you can go on Google this thing called the leadership company [00:15:30.79] spk_0:
Leadership Leadership Compass. [00:15:32.84] spk_4:
Yeah, there’s a leadership compass, which [00:15:34.95] spk_0:
is kind of [00:16:03.57] spk_4:
like How do you take lead their people that need a lot of information? They’re more technological. They, like details, is looking better. Our creative thinkers. And so you do have a discussion with your team around where you follow on the leadership compass, Um, kind of one of the strengths and weaknesses of that. And then in the stroke of your work, what does that mean for for meetings or for one on one time, we’re getting things done. So that’s what Do you have siblings? [00:16:05.72] spk_3:
Yeah, Thanks. On my website non profit comfort dot com, I have a whole page of icebreakers that don’t suck that I like to facilitate. Moe knows [00:16:15.69] spk_0:
that the most you can say about them is that they don’t suck. Is that this longest endorsement? You can [00:16:20.20] spk_3:
hear you if you really want. One of my favorite icebreaker is a check in question. It’s very simple. You don’t need any equipment. You don’t need any prep. They could be short. That could be long. They could be deep. That could be fun. Checking questions beginning of a meeting house. People build familiarity and commonalities and therefore trust [00:16:37.08] spk_0:
like what’s an example of what’s example of a checking question [00:17:21.41] spk_3:
Check in question Could be. What did you do to support your physical health today? Something really is. You know, people can share as much or as little as they want. It could be. What superhero would you be or what’s your superpower? What tattoo do you have or what’s a country you wanted is It could be any of those things, but I like focusing them on wellness because then again, people are making themselves vulnerable. They’re finding commonalities, and they can build more team support that way. So they’re icebreakers you can do and you can’t even focus them around wellness or someone care or diversity or inclusion or any topic you want. It’s the structure of the ice breaker that people get stuck on. And that’s where, like most said, you know, if you just try some or read Cem overviews and then make it your own or make your make the topic or the subject matter your own, you can really use the structure of the ice breaker to get people out of their comfort zone and get some new ways and relating in new ways. [00:17:37.23] spk_0:
Okay, Okay, Susan, let’s stay with you. Other ideas that, uh, folks can implement while we’re in this roaring in the midst, This [00:18:47.84] spk_3:
this is a more advanced one. And so I would only say this for teams that have already started down the road of diversity afternoon inclusion work like the work that motives. So we have. Ah, we developed a thing called a stressor scorecard, which is basically a list of identities and circumstances in life that brings stress. So some of them are identities, like being woman or being a person of color. Being a member of the LGBT community as a circumstance stressor might be, I’m going through a divorce or have a food intolerance or I have a terrible commute, right self circumstance that could change. But when we go through these circumstances or we have these identities that bring us stress in life, it’s important to realize it ourselves and also share that with each other in some way. So the stressor scorecard is a little bit of, um away to spark discussion. It can be a simple eyes like what is your score or what causes you stress where it could be a deeper discussion. Like Why do these things cause of stress? And how can we support each other? Because this is the stress we bring to the office. It’s not the stress that we experience it work from deadlines and too much work or even changing the world, which with no profit Cesaire already stressful jobs, world changing jobs, right? We’re talking about the stress that you bring [00:19:09.09] spk_0:
with you. Where is there? Someplace just on. I realized this little more things further along group, but but we may as well just pursue it just to get the resource with stressor. Scorecard. Does it exist somewhere? [00:19:16.04] spk_3:
It’s on my Web site. Non profit comfort dot com. [00:19:23.17] spk_0:
Okay, okay, let’s bring it back to the more basic, though, Uh, you got another. Another tip for team team care. [00:19:55.49] spk_3:
There’s so many. I think that the important thing is that you figure out a system for keeping it up like we’re in crisis right now because we’re in the midst of a cove, it state shelter, home place that is going to pass at some point and we’re gonna be back in some sort of new normal. Yes, the world will have changed fundamentally, but we’re gonna go back to some sort of new normal, And we need to figure out what systems changed more permanently. So, for example, workplaces should have some sort of committee or task force that’s focused on culture or wellness or health. And if you don’t have one yet, you should create one. It’s easy. It’s free. You can put a budget on it or just reallocate some of your budget for food or retreats or meetings to that group and the naked detect decide what the snacks are. They can decide. Um, you know what to do. It retreats or what? The wellness [00:20:28.59] spk_0:
well, or what? To be what it is now. Yeah, well, or we could all have a common treat. Maybe, uh, you know, everybody brings their favorite cookie or something. All right, we got it [00:20:34.85] spk_3:
yourself. You [00:20:35.11] spk_0:
gotta gotta wrap it up. No, I’m gonna give you the closing words a little. Ah, little more encouragement, Mo. [00:21:40.03] spk_4:
Yeah, I think, uh, end with keep the positivity going, but you have to build in a lot of different practices to keep positivity, Whether that is having shout out as part of your normal routine when you get on there having ice burgers, Um, just keep the positivity going just because it is a very, very stressful time. And so if you’re not building in those positive practices, a lot of times, you’re not gonna know when your team is feeling stressed out. It was they’re stressed out. That’s gonna lower productivity on and just make the working experience, you know, kind of dreadful. So, manager of a group of people working those practices, not every time that you need to meet face to face, but it doesn’t always have to be works. It could be a simple Hey, I saw you have 10 minutes on the calendar. Let me check in with you. How you doing today? Um, one thing that I just But I just learned that you do make sure you’re practicing wellness. So having, um, work related communications with also having personal check ins, I think it’s gonna be really impactful and keeping us all light and energized as you move through this crisis. [00:21:59.02] spk_0:
All right. Thank you. That’s more. Abdullah, founder of culture, energized and with our Susan Comfort founder of non profit Wellness. I want to thank both of you. Thanks so much for sharing. And we’re gonna get this out shortly. Week or no more than two weeks. A special episode. So mode, Susan, thank you very, very much. Thank you. Stay safe.