We all go through tough times in life as well as enjoying triumphs. If you lead a team and are tasked with communicating difficult messages, how you talk can be crucial to the way information lands as what you say. Consider the following ideas:

Make it about the future, not the past. People need a vision of what things will be like if they grit their teeth and get on with it. Paint the vision. Make it real. Give them hope but also be upfront and honest about the challenges.

That was then. This is now. Treat people as adults. Tell them the challenges you and the organisation face. It isn’t easy but giving them an insight into the issues, demands, as well as the opportunities, will help. Maybe consider inviting a non-executive from the board to listen to concerns, answer questions and talk to them about the expectations they have of the business. It demonstrates inclusion and shows respect.

Give them a voice. Find an opportunity for members of the team to present their ideas for improvements to the leadership team. The not-for-profit organisation, Engage for Success offers the following suggestions:

  • Ideas Street” – a more modern version of the suggestions box, where instead of ideas supposedly being looked at by a ‘committee’ but disappearing into the ether, ideas are posted online so all colleagues can see and vote on them, and which progress to further consideration if they attract enough support.
  • Big conversations” – where the whole organisation discusses a topic in small groups, through an organised series of conversations based around questions that all staff are invited to talk about, where comments and ideas are collected in, and the conversation develops in response to the feedback received.
  • Graffiti walls” – official ones, opened for a period, again inviting views and comments on a particular theme, where staff can write what they think, and colleagues can see what they have written and add their comments.
  • World Café” events, where a conversation happens over a series of tables. Attendees are invited to discuss one topic or aspect at a table, where one or two facilitators help keep the conversation flowing and take notes, often on paper covering the whole table, so everyone can see their contribution being captured. At regular intervals, attendees move around the room to another table and another part of the conversation
  • Frontline forum”, where a senior leader gathers together a representative group of frontline staff to listen to issues that concern them and discuss and work through possible solutions.
  • Employee Engagement supporters networks, where keen members of the team can play a significant role in supporting their managers and colleagues in engaging activities to improve how they work together.

Being a change agent can be exhausting and lonely. Don’t forget to be on your own side. Look after your wellbeing and mental health. Here are ten self-care tips that will have a positive impact on your ability to deal with challenging situations:

  1. It is good to talk. Build a network of like-minded people who will support you through good times and bad.
  2. Raise your pulse. It doesn’t matter what you do, get moving. The effort will invigorate and enable you to think more clearly.
  3. Mind your mindset. Our beliefs and attitudes shape our reaction to events. Foster a growth mindset by seeing the effort as the key to success.
  4. Get enough rest. Sleep is an excellent restorative. Try this mantra as you settle down in bed ‘Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Time to rest’. Repeat three times and allow your body to relax.
  5. Mindful minutes. Practice living in the moment. It improves mood and clarity of thought. Try a ‘savouring walk’ to combine movement with meditation. Spend 20 minutes walking outside, preferably somewhere green and take time to notice what is around you.
  6. Drink enough water. A simple yet effective way to keep your brain and body in tip-top condition. If you find water boring, try adding a sprig of mind or a dash of lime or slices of cucumber.
  7. Tame workload. Audit what you are doing. Use ditch, do, delegate to bring it under control.
  8. Keep breathing. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Enjoy feeling composed through a focus on the breath. Breathe in for three, hold for four and out for five. Repeat at least three times then breathe normally.
  9. Be grateful. Reflect on three good things that make you feel confident and happy. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Just something that made you smile and see the lighter side of life. Do this several times a week towards the end of your day. Write down the three things as this action will cement the positivity generated in your mind.
  10. Master your reactions. You can’t control others behaviour and emotions, but you can choose how you react. Reflect on the difference a measured approach has on your well-being and ability to cope.


Beverly Landais, ACC Certified Coach. Beverly works with individuals and teams to help them hone their performance which leads to better professional satisfaction and helps them deliver more value to the businesses in which they operate.