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Outside the Classroom: Navigating a National Crisis Using VitalSmarts Skills

Q. I am not actively training due to COVID-19 restructuring, but I still want to use the VitalSmarts skills I value and love to help my co-workers, company leaders, community and family members navigate the tumultuous changes we are experiencing. Can you offer some tips to help me get started?

A. If you’re like me, you’ve felt unsure and disconnected over the last four months. The COVID-19 pandemic became an all-consuming topic of concern and conversation. Everyone started self-isolating almost overnight, places of work cleared out, travel dropped way off, businesses shut down—everything changed. Then we discovered that it wasn’t going to be a temporary situation that would pass as we hunkered down for a month or two. People’s response to the initial shockwave has been varied—some more effective than others.

Shockwaves like this can cause trauma in people’s lives. They might not recognize it as such, but each disruption, restriction, and change can cause micro-traumas. And while not overwhelming on their own, they have an impact as they start to accumulate. They show up as frustrations, anxieties, helplessness, and, in some cases, anger. How people respond to these crucial moments is the best predictor of what their experience will be in the recovery phase.

During the reaction phase (where I feel many people currently are), people tend to feel disconnected. The nature of how they do their work has shifted and, in some cases, many other aspects of their lives have shifted. People are feeling alone and uncertain.

So, what can you do to as a certified trainer to not only help those you train, but also help your friends, family, and communities to navigate the stress? Here are some tips that might help:

Use your skills to bring comfort. As a certified trainer, you are not limited to the classroom to help people. In a time when everything feels so disconnected, you can help others connect to their new work circumstances by helping them dialogue with colleagues about what to expect from each other. You can help your management teams and co-workers better fulfill their responsibilities to one another and to clients and customers by using your skills to help them adapt and work through the changes. In many cases, you’ve already taught people the skills they need to manage a crisis. You just need to remind them how and where to apply the skills they already have.

Use your after-training resources. One of the easiest ways to remind people is to share the resources that come with each VitalSmarts course. You can share the various articles, podcasts, and instructional videos to help people remember what they learned in class. Some Certified Trainers have shared resources with participants along with a challenge. For example, you might refer people to the post-training tips on the Trainer Zone or share the Keystone Habits from The Power of Habit and ask them to identify what keystone habits help them work from home effectively. You could use the post-training tips sheet on the Trainer Zone from Master Trainer Justin Hale as a refresher for those that have already been through training. You can visit the How Do I Say That? videos on YouTube or download them on the Trainer Zone and share them with your leadership. You can also share Joseph Grenny’s “Be Safe. Feel Safe.” webinar with your management and leadership teams to help them think about their plans in new ways. There are many resources available to you as a trainer that can help you empower others to be prepared and safe.

Use single-point lessons. Create a two-minute video or write a paragraph or two highlighting a single skill along with a single idea on how to apply it. For example, you might highlight the AMPP skills from Crucial Conversations and encourage others to use them to create safety in online meetings when discussing things like racial equality, diversity, or COVID-19 safety and health precautions. Or you might feature Identify Next Actions from GTD so people conclude brainstorm meetings with clear actions they can take. Make these lessons short and provide just a couple of examples of how to apply the skills, and people will find them useful.

Crowdsource it. There are probably many people you have trained who are figuring out how to use their new skills. Previous participants are generally more than happy to share what they have learned about using their skills, so invite them to do so. For example, you might invite people to share how they’re using skills from Influencer to address bias in the workplace, or how they’ve used Make it Motivating from Crucial Accountability to address a performance gap with a remote worker. Once you have some examples, share them with your company. Doing this allows you and your peers to discover new and different ways to apply the skills you’ve learned.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how you can contribute as a trainer, colleague, leader, manager, or family and community member. We’d love to hear other ways you’re helping people connect to the VitalSmarts skills.

Best,
Steve

Have some feedback? Send it to editor@vitalsmarts.com

Steve Willlis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation.

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