Tim is the co-director at Sturts Farm and Community Trust in Dorset, UK. Sturts is a social enterprise composed of an organic, biodynamic farm and co-housing project where many residents have a learning disability.
Lockdown was particularly difficult for Tim and his team because many of the residents were classified as high-risk. On top of that, they were involved in legal issues that brought a whole new level of stress to the situation.
Tim shares more about the situation:
“A number of pressing projects were demanding attention, including an unpleasant HR issue going through tribunal over a prolonged period. Added to lockdown and remote working, there was a real sense of isolation and dislocation from people within the organisation.
All focus was on managing Covid and keeping vulnerable people safe, constant demands from lawyers and deadlines, whilst juggling projects which, although essential, just gave everyone else more to do in addition to their expanded workloads.
You could feel the massive amount of stress everyone was under all the time. We were so busy we were losing our sense of purpose.
I had a huge fear that the organisation was drifting and a pervading feeling of imposing doom. We were so reactive due to the constant pressures rather than the previously normal position of being pro-active alongside warm, positive working relationships.
In particular, a noticeable lack of enjoyment in work as opposed to normal buoyancy. A loss of normal daily working patterns, routines, and daily contact impacts a true sense of time – resulting in taking up the position of waiting to get back to normal—the unfamiliar place of being reactive, creating an emerging sense of helplessness.
We tried to stay on top of things by ploughing through everyday work and deadlines, even put in meditation and mindfulness practices, but I knew we needed more.
When I met and talked to Michael, who I coincidently met at a meditation retreat almost a year ago, he seemed to really get our purpose and culture. I also appreciated his warm, humanistic approach to things.
Though, honestly, we were so worn out. I doubted we could make real connections and have real conversations around Zoom. I was also worried about how the team would respond to Michael and buy into it. They are a tight group, and we can be hesitant to open up to someone from the “outside”.
However, I had to do something. After all, things weren’t going to fix themselves.
Michael was amazing. Even before our session, he sent everyone a short video message to set their expectations and get people looking forward to it.
He got everyone talking right away, and they were engaged from the start.
He has an approach grounded in simplicity and humility, which connects and enables participants to feel acknowledged and safe. Most importantly, it belies a hidden depth in connecting what is truly important to a person rather than empty materialistic gains.
Most of the sessions consisted of my team talking and sharing – Michael simply facilitated that. It was a safe place to have conversations that needed to be said. We explored different areas of the business and relationships, though always with a solution mindset.
It truly brought a shift in mood and positivity, enhanced our confidence, and refocused attention on the future. We also got re-connected to our purpose and reinforced our culture.
After the initial training, some of the team members comments were:
“We needed these conversations. I’ve really missed them. It’s been so long since we’ve talked like this.”
After the first session, I realised how important these were, and this is the one thing in the week. I look forward to and make sure nothing gets scheduled over.
At the end of the original training, my staff said they were sad they were ending, so we worked with Michael to design a longer-term plan to make sure we stay proactive with our leaders.
Thanks, Michael, for getting us back on track!”
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