everybody is struggling right now

a twitter-thread-turned-blog-post

shelby spees's photo
shelby spees
·Aug 27, 2020·

2 min read

(Edited from the original twitter thread for readability.)

I have just about everything in life I could ask for, and I'm barely holding it together.

Everybody is struggling right now. You don't have to know what's specifically impacting them in order to show compassion. If you're in a position to do so (ahem, managers), assume that people are dealing with shit outside of work and proactively give them a break. Tell them to drop a task, or if necessary, everything that's not the highest priority.

Proactively reduce WIP for your reports, because when we're overwhelmed by ongoing events it's harder to make decisions about what to focus on. We want to do a good job, but we need your help with planning and prioritizing when stress is impeding our executive function.

I very much appreciate my managers and senior members of my team right now. Twice in two weeks I've needed to delay work on an internal deadline, and both times the response was "thank you for taking care of yourself."

When I dropped the ball on an external commitment and acknowledged that I needed help, there was no "do better next time" or "you need to step up." Because "just try harder" doesn't address the systemic barriers to accomplishing the task.

For me, my ADHD combines with outside impediments to executive function until I'm spinning a dozen plates and super overwhelmed. I know logically how to build systems and follow processes to avoid this, but in the moment when I'm stressed I don't remember to. Hence, looking into ADHD coaching.

(And the follow-up thread.)

this fuckin week. fires, a hurricane, armed gunmen in the streets, also ones who aren't cops, an ongoing violent political circus, blatant anti-Blackness everywhere you turn, school starting during a pandemic, and another one of our heroes taken from us way too soon. plus knowing that it's only going to get more painful as we approach the election.

Managers, I implore you. Especially for your Black employees.

How do you do it without patronizing people? If you don't have the most trusting relationship? Material impact: give them a raise, and then ask them to take a vacation. This says, "I value you and trust you, but I also know that the world is shit and you might need space right now."

Don't pressure people though. Some folks take solace in work. Some still won't trust you (which is why the raise is important--it has a positive impact without relying on a good relationship). Be sure to also talk people up when they're not in the room. Praise them to your boss. Strengthen their position in your org.

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