Giving Compass’ Take:
• Beth Kanter explores the concept of “fire drill culture” in nonprofits, and how always being in crisis mode can drag everyone down.
• As Kanter writes, it’s imperative that you and your colleagues practice self care, while integrating more “look ahead rituals” to anticipate any challenges in the future.
Crisis mode happens for a variety of reasons. First, there are social service agencies that work with people in crisis and it becomes part of the workplace culture. Also, staff exposed indirectly to trauma through hearing about the difficult experiences of the people they serve or “secondary trauma” can lead to burnout or “compassion fatigue.”
People who work in this environment often feel they can’t take time off or practice self-care because if they do their client will suffer. But, in this type of work, it is critical to incorporate self-care in order to sustain oneself and to serve clients better.
One technique is to weave self-care into your workday. Rather than having self-care be something “outside” of work, it can be integrated naturally into the course of the workday. Self care is highly customized to the person, but the trick is to think of it more broadly than physical health and incorporate micro moments of self-care or #boringselfcare. Maybe its going outside for a ten minute walk or closing your eyes for a few minutes to meditate.
Crisis mode also happens when there is a lack of planning and prioritizing and everything is important! As projects get more complex or your organization is trying to accomplish more with less resources, it gets harder to accomplish without more intentional planning.
Look ahead rituals can even be as simple as encouraging staff to take 20-30 minutes on Mondays to look at their week and different deadlines. Also, it is important to having ongoing communication when priorities shift and be able to ask and answer the question, “What is the most important deliverable on this list of ten things that we need to do today?”
Read the full article about fire drill culture in nonprofits at Beth Kanter’s Blog.
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