On November 4, 2016, I can recall the moment I woke up and heard the news of the election. I was actually traveling for work at the time and woke up in my hotel room after having fallen asleep late the night before and before results across the country were shared. I turned on the tv, tried to process what I was hearing and thought, “I have to be at a work location in an hour and I’m not sure I can even move right now- what do I do?”
I remember crying through a shower, getting dressed, showing up, and pushing through that day all the while wishing that someone, anyone, had asked “ Are you ok?” or “ Is this meeting really that important or can it wait?” I wanted to feel, seen, heard, acknowledged, and instead, I felt like a machine. It was the longest day I had had in a long time. And since then, that day sticks in my mind, not just because of the election results but because of how I experienced work that day.
Fast forward to 2020 and I’m determined to not experience a post-election workday or work week like that again and quite frankly, to not let anyone else experience the same at their jobs either. I’ve created this 3-topic resource for this week, in hopes that it will help many of you have a different conversation in your organizations, whether you are working in one or running one yourself.
Why? Because the reality is, no matter what your role is, this week may be hard no matter the outcomes. And as I personally am finding myself stressed about what’s to come, I realize that I may very well may not be alone in this. These are a few strategies I have; please feel free to share and add your own to these lists:
Preparing for 11/4 at Work:
Many of our conversations are focused on 11/3 but the reality is many will be asked to work on 11/4 and pretend everything is normal. It will not be. So, how can a workplace prepare?
Approve PTO requests and do so without questioning, particularly if there are last minute requests. Many are taking 11/4 in advance but some may not know how they feel until they are up on Wednesday morning. Be prepared to say yes and not ask why.
Adjust and be mindful of the week’s workload. Have a bunch of meetings, deadlines, and intense peaks in the workload planned for this week? Go ahead and adjust those now as people will need time to vote, process what comes out of the election results, and to take care of themselves. Your powerpoint deck can wait.
Make optional space available on 11/4. No matter if there are clear results or not, people may need time to process together and creating optional space may be helpful to some. Note though that this space should be optional, not forced, as not every team member wants to process with other co-workers.
Be mindful of how you set-up this optional space. You know your team best but if you believe providing optional space will turn into a harmful debate on who should have been elected, as one example, be mindful of how the space is facilitated. It can end up being a harmful space to more staff, specifically BIPOC, or it can be a space that is helpful. You choose.
For leaders, be vulnerable and transparent. This is not the time as a leader or manager to pretend like everything is business as usual and that stuff is normal. It’s not and if you’ve watched any portion of the news, you recognize that our country is literally burning around us. It’s a scary time and to ignore it, not share that you see it, and be real about it is fake and unhelpful.
Be mindful of team and client interactions. Depending on your business, some of your team members may have to navigate dealing with clients, customers, or funders directly who want to express their own opinions, which can sometimes put your team in harmful situations. Be ready to not let them deal with it unsupported or alone. Period. The customer is not always right.
Recognize this all may apply beyond 11/4. There is high (and rightfully so!) probability that there may not be clear election results on 11/4 and if there are, there is additional impact that will extend well beyond election week. Be mindful of this and when unsure of what to do, swipe back and repeat 🙂
Additional tips for online business owners, coaches, and creators:
In addition to the strategies shared above, it is important to recognize that there are unique challenges that may exist for you and your team that you’ll want to consider for not just 11/4, but the entire week:
Check your scheduled content. If it seems out of touch….it probably is and you should unschedule it. And reminder, no Black Squares; we’ve been over this.
Give your team time-off. Yes, even if it’s just one person. Make sure they have the time they need to vote, to process, and to practice self-care without the stress of deadlines.
Monitor your FB group or any other communities you manage for inappropriate comments, reflections, or verbal abuse of other members in regards to the election or the election results.
Be mindful of not tying your sales strategies to the election. I’ve already seen this: ” Get your spot by 11/3 before our democracy is in shambles” and y’all…this is TACKY. Don’t do it, don’t try it, don’t be that person.
Create space for your clients. It’s not a time to pretend it’s business as usual right now and your clients may need you to show up differently for them. Start off conversations asking ” How are you showing up to this space?” instead of immediately jumping into business. Note: Waiving penalties for last-minute coaching cancellations is also something to consider in case your client needs space right now.
Self-care during election week:
No matter your role, title, or level, the acknowledgment that this week is intense and can have a strain on each of us in varying ways is important. As I learned from 2016, this is a time to not feel like a machine and instead to prioritize self-care for yourself and those around you. A few ideas to consider:
Take time off. Even if your company is not providing it, if you need it, take it and do so unapologetically. It’s important you protect your space and energy and if this means not working, you deserve that time away.
Take a movement class. Whether that’s strength-based, yoga, dance, or punching a bag (not a person), take care of your physical being and release stress through movement.
Go volunteer. And no, it does not have to be at a polling place ;). It’s a great time though to get away from your phone and spend time supporting others in ways that are meaningful to them.
Get your group chat popping..on non-political topics. Anybody else love their group chats?? Keep one going or start one with one rule this week: let’s talk about things besides just the election this week.
Schedule social media scrolling. For some of us, it’s unrealistic that we won’t be on social media at all. Instead, be proactive and schedule blocks in which you will scroll and then log-off once your ” allotted time” is up.
Make self-care a priority above all of these strategies. There are lots of events and spaces being curated for you to take care of you this week. So, go vote and then do what you need to do for you.