Finding a positive mental attitude despite the issues of lockdown

Staying in the right mental place at work is challenging at the best of times: we have all had the experience of being a little off the pace mentally, be it feeling unmotivated, distracted or disenchanted. 

Sometimes that can evolve into wanting a duvet day or calling in sick, whilst for others it can simply be a less productive day – and sometimes longer. Lockdown brings its own issues and magnifies existing issues, and businesses need their staff operating fully to bring the business out of difficulties.  As business owners, your mindset will influence staff and customers, so this is of primary importance. 

My experience in helping entrepreneurs and individuals tells me that creating and maintaining a positive mental state and positive beliefs are key to delivering consistently high performance: while performance in the short term can be ‘forced’ and you can stick to habits initially, without changing the underlying mindset and beliefs, the behaviour eventually falls back.

The first emotion to handle is fear: fear of losing a business, fear of losing a job, fear of further lockdown. Alongside this is feeling a lack of control – that all of this can or will happen and there is nothing that can be done to help it. For business owners, information is key: if you are scared of the monsters in the dark the answer is to turn on the lights. In business darkness, the light is information. While you don’t have to give away all the information, you may want to give those around you extra information about how things are. Tell them all is well, and you just need them to keep their heads, if that’s true. If you need their help to get the business through dark times, tell them that, too.  Whatever the situation, it will rarely get better if you are hiding in the dark, and sharing the information will combat the fear and feelings of lack of control.

Feeling overwhelmed can also raise its head. This may be because staff are filling in for furloughed staff; it may be because they have more family commitments; it may be because they are struggling with emotions or practical issues. Again, the key issue is often the lack of clarity as to the work to be done.  I think most of us will have had the experience of being particularly busy and feeling overwhelmed, realising late at night that there was something urgent that you didn’t get done. Our mental capacity is reduced by having to hold on to all the tasks around us, so urge people to use case management systems or simply the trusty to do list to get all these tasks out of their heads and into order.

Finally, lockdown may have brought a severe lack of motivation. Most people can put up with a terrible situation if they can see an end to it, but lack of an end date saps motivation. Add to this a lack of clarity as to what is expected from them and we have what may be a terribly stressful situation. 

The natural reaction to a threat of fight, flight or freeze may result: some employees may dig in and work harder to get you out of the difficulties, others may leave to get away from these feelings and others may freeze and become far less efficient as they ‘choke’. The answer is to develop and share a plan of action which sets expectations and makes it clear that if the plan is followed then all should be well. Everyone should understand their part. For the leadership team, creating and communicating this plan, measuring delivery on the plan and being honest and open about the business will create a feeling of control, motivation and achievement. This positive mindset will enable you to keep going and keep growing out of the crisis. For those that struggle with their mindset or culture, external assistance in the form of coaching and business consultancy may provide the solution to unlock higher performance.

To discuss this further contact Anna Wood to arrange a complimentary clarity call at