Week one after COVID and I am simultaneously tired of hearing about it and starved for information. Unlike many of you, I work from home every day (well except when I am in the field) so I am not feeling the relentlessness of being cooped up. I still walk my dogs and attend meetings virtually not much has changed but the looming uncertainty. My former employer of several jobs ago didn’t handle the Great Recession well. He promoted me to Executive Director and then immediately cut all executive pay by 20%, he cut benefits drastically and I ended up unemployed for a total of 10 days, but it was pretty scary. I was afraid of the worst possible scenario living in the street and never finding work again. A lot of you might be feeling the same way now.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this Pandemic is how woefully unprepared many countries were for this. We missed the leading indicators (I work for a global firm that, to date, has handled things in my opinion pretty darned well) and for many, this was a China problem, then it was an Italy problem, Then it came to our doorsteps and we panicked. How could we not see this coming/ the time to build ad hoc hospitals and producing more ventilators is not when the hospitals are already overwhelmed, but well before it does. The time to limit the number of vital supplies is BEFORE the hoarders have gutted everything not after. The time to educate people on how to protect themselves against infection is BEFORE the infections are spread. We flat out blew it on this crisis but the real question is have we learned enough to do better next time. I think we have, I hope we have, I pray we have.
Last week my publisher and my PR Manager insisted I write something about COVID-19 and against my better judgment I did. Neither of them liked it much. It was too dark, too bleak, too negative, and too long. I don’t like having my material edited. If you read this with any sort of regularity you will understand why. When I am writing something I am writing to you. I am writing something personal to someone I don’t know. Some people like it and some don’t. But, in this case, I acquiesced and reworked the opening paragraph and cut out three paragraphs at the end. I hate to admit it but the changes they wanted me to make made it better. You can read it in Thrive Global Magazine here: Panic In the Time of Pandemic. iI’s not my usual, visceral attack on something, but I really wanted to bring hope to those of you who are worried about how your world will look after the dust of the pandemic settles. We fear the unknown precisely because it is unknown.
Many of us can’t wait to get back to normal, but that just isn’t going to happen. COVID-19 caught much of the world with its pants down and many CEOs and business owners have never faced a challenge of this magnitude. We can hope that they learn from this and we each as individuals should learn from this crisis. I would hope that we all don’t just return to business as usual because as much as I would like to reassure you, this isn’t the last global crisis we are likely to face.
In every part of the world, in every business, in every household, we should learn that our social norms as it pertains to our response to crises need to change. If companies expect sacrifice and loyalty from their workforce now they have to sacrifice and show loyalty to workers in bad times. If we are all in this together then how can we act as if it’s “every man for himself”? How we behave now whether as a worker or a business leader will determine how things are going to be when all this is over.
Leadership, true leadership, doesn’t come from managing in good times. No, true leadership is formed in the crucible of crises. We need to do more to protect people who are self-employed, work in the gig economy, or are otherwise left vulnerable when business dries up. We need less corporate greed and more social safety nets. I hope things never go back to normal, I hope we emerge stronger, smarter, and a more compassionate world.
But for now, all we can do is wait.
Stay safe and stay healthy
WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?
Bored, cooped up? Order one of my books and learn a thing or two.
Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons. There were hundreds of specific threats of violence. You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would. But if you want to help follow this link. Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets. Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.
Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)
Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:
- What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
- Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
- What can I do to prevent workplace violence?
I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence. But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.
Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly. All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone’s who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.
As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire