Compassionate Leadership in the Face
of Pandemic Crisis
by admin | April 06, 2020 | Compassionate Leadership
‘I was once with a friend on a beach collecting shells. I throw those with holes or are broken. I want the perfect shell. She paused, picked up what I threw away, held it against the sun, and said something that startled me. My friend says, "Shells are allowed to be broken so that light can shine through it". We are broken by this crisis, while we grope in darkness, light will shine through us. Do not be discouraged, we are overcomers’!
Three weeks hence of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), everyone is feeling overwhelmed and worried of the national and global situations. Employees and workers are beset by job insecurities and worries of their timelines and in how to deliver tasks with government imposed quarantines. Deployed staff suffers from family separation, constantly communicating with their families back home.
News of looming global recession sends panic to big and small businesses. For heads of non-profits offices, the insecurities also root out from worries on future flow of project funds to organizations from donors overseas, specially EU and North American partners which were badly hit by the pandemic. I dread receiving emails from global partners informing me that they will be in a ‘furlough’ or that their working time is greatly reduced by their offices, sends me a clear message though. The long-term global partnerships with PCMN established with long-held principles of mutuality, accountability, transparency is shaken by COVID-19.
Amidst the prevailing insecurities, as leaders of non-profit organizations, what are we to do? I share here some measures we adopt at PCMN:
Support the economic situation of the employees and volunteers. PCMN foremost, ahead of the government, has supported its staff in practical means. Salaries and 13th month were released in advance to ameliorate their economic situation. The advanced money proves useful in stocking some supplies at home for families. Vitamin C and disinfectants were provided early on to avoid infection and support body immunity. As needed, we tap on volunteer writers, artists, researchers, editors to provide support to network projects, while also providing them needed income, or for those unpaid volunteers, we provide a platform for their creativities;
Build social networks around the staff and partners. Isolation and Work from Home (WHF) arrangement has driven many to cabin fever, and consequently, attacks of anxiety. For our staff isolated in a city, we connected them with the barangays for support. The VAWC City President, through strategic coordination, has visited the staff at their post and gave them food relief. One of the Barangay Kagawads in our partner community, who has more mobility and access to sources of goods, has volunteered to purchase the staff groceries. We established regional online meetings with local church partners to open up a line of mutual support and encouragements.
Maintain routine. PCMN Managers and Senior Leaders instituted a close monitoring of tasks assigned to staff. We conduct an every Monday devotional and business meeting. The regularity of work assignments demand accountabilities from the staff while in WFH assignments. We send the message, that WFH is not a slack time. We likewise encourage the staff to do a daily routine, so as not to succumb to boredom and despair.
Emotional and Mental Health Support. For staff in distress, we connected them with mental health professionals whom they could talk to to ease out on their anxieties. Some of the staff suffers from sleeplessness, worries, social media overload resulting to fear and anxieties. We advised them to regulate their consumption of news and in accessing FB posts sending negativity and toxicity. We instituted a daily prayer routine where staff can join and expressed their worries and be prayed for. PCMN developed adverts in a form of Biblical verses, quotations and anecdotes posted on its FB page for the staff and network members to read and reflect on a daily basis.
Skills and knowledge support. As face to face interaction is absent, we provided a seminar on use of an online toolkit for use by the staff in logging daily and for supervisors to monitor supervisee’s tasks. Technical papers and articles to aid their work are shared in the group chat threads to enable staff to access reliable data and sources of information. Relief Web, UNHCR, Unicef are some weblinks provided to the staff and partners to aid them in their work. We also encouraged the staff to attend webinars to increase their analysis on critical issues surrounding COVID-19.
In the face of a bleak national and global situation, we are reminded to be a light that shines through, reaching out to people around us with practical and emotional measures. Let this dire situation strengthen our faith in humanity and God, while mindful of the government policies to protect us, as we together overcome the unprecedented difficulties faced by our generation. We will come out of this crisis changed- more loving, considerate and peaceful. We will overcome!
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