Since 2008 the economic climate has been causing considerable stress for many whether in a small business or a global organisation. Our sense of security has been eroded due to the actions of a few people who made a large impact on the way the western world works. “Many people who wanted to improve their homes, their way of life, or get promotion now feel vulnerable. Their lives have been turned upside down. Their financial security gone, they are unsure what will happen to their job, their home, their way of life.

The “given” is no longer, every day brings changes, staff numbers change, known processes and strategies are under the microscope. What other changes will affect our lives? Some
companies having made redundancies will move their staff to a building in a different area to fill the gaps. In bygone days with only one bread-winner this wouldn’t have caused too much disruption but those days and the security are gone.

The media is full of doom and gloom and many can’t afford holidays or are scared their job will have disappeared when they return. How can they perform well and make good decisions being so stressed? We feel alone, frightened.

What will change, where will we go, what new strategies will we need to work with and how will it affect our lives?

So what can we do? Those working in a team can take comfort that everyone is in the same boat (to a degree).For those not in a team where is the comfort? Working as an Executive Assistant or Virtual Assistant can feel like a very lonely life. You feel very isolated. But are you really alone? You are a team with your boss; you are the conduit between him and the staff.

You also liaise with other teams throughout the organisation who provide information for your
boss when required.

Staff will confide their thoughts and innermost fears to you – these delicate times are when you
make a big difference to how people feel and react. You alleviate your boss’s stress by doing what comes naturally, by really listening to their words you can allay their fears without divulging sensitive information.

The future may take a different path, be in a different building but the situation will get better and there are always choices and opportunities. It’s about turning “fear” of the unknown into an opportunity, finding the nugget of success in the situation and realising that change is always with us. By embracing change we excel and move to greater heights.

For some staff change means they move to a different department, work with a different team or in a different job. They can take redundancy with the opportunity of moving to a new area or country and/or starting their own business. You can help them by being a leader who listens to what they say, discussing what options they have and helping them through this rough passage. This “storm” will pass, and the sun will come out! It always does.

By appreciating the opportunities and benefits the easier the process will be; buying into the process, getting on with the job creates stronger teams for the future. Once the “storm” is over you can celebrate and the pressure will ease. More importantly the organisation will be stronger to deal with the outside opposition ie the market.

In 2000 I took part in a round-the-world yacht race – 12 yachts racing the wrong way round the world against the winds and currents, a total of 27,000 miles, one professional skipper and 17 amateur crew (although we had trained well). Was it easy? No, I’m scared of water.

Did everything run smoothly? No, there were problems with the crew, another yacht crashed into us outside Wellington and I cannot remember the number of storms we endured nor – even more frustrating – the number of times we were becalmed. As we sailed against the winds and currents being becalmed meant essentially going backwards! Not good in a race.

When a storm hit we were scared. The “on watch” had to remain on deck working with every huge wave crashing over us. When the storm got really bad and the yacht wasn’t moving forward then the other watch were woken, got dressed and came up on deck to help us save the yacht. If we did not save
the yacht we did not save ourselves. It was as simple as that.

We were drenched, frightened, cold, hungry and shattered but we had to keep going, we had to save the yacht because we were further away from land than the astronauts – there was no one around to help us. But we knew that if we all worked together then not only would we save the yacht and our lives but the storm would pass and we could relax a little more.

Just remember no matter what you are going through, no matter how bad it is, it will pass and you will be stronger for the experience.

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” Robert Fritz”

Rona Cant is an explorer, international speaker and author. Once an unexceptional, middle-aged single parent she became a round-the-world yachtswoman by competing in the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race (the toughest yacht race in the world ... (Read More)

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