Andrew Stenhouse: Vanguard University
Dean, School for Graduate and Professional Studies
Vanguard University of Southern California
Loss is pervasive and we don’t often recognize how much we’re dealing with loss at the time.
Three broad categories of emotions tend to show up for people during a time of workplace loss:
- We don’t know the loss will affect us personally
- We don’t know how we are going to react to the loss
- These fears can surprise us and cause even more anxiety
- We can be angry at the person who we lost
- We need to be able to express our anger in some way
- Anger sometimes feels good because it provides some illusion of control
- Anger tends to yield to sadness
- Guilt is the feeling that we could or should have done something
- We can sometimes feel guilt that we are not in as much pain as we think we should be
What leaders can do after a loss:
- Don’t put parameters on how people are supposed to deal with loss
- However, provide stability and structure for people
- Create and lead forums for conversation
- The performance aspects of the job can help stabilize and reduce stress
- Leaders should facilitate the conversation about the loss, rather than just allowing it (or hoping for it) to happen on its own
- Bring in someone else to help when you see physical signs of loss
“You’re always on one side or the other of a loss. You’re either approaching one or getting over one.” -Andrew Stenhouse
What’s one thing you could do now to ready your organization for loss?
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