Evidence in the Office: Trauma

Evidence in the Office: Trauma

July 05, 20232 min read

Sue Ellen takes everything literally. So literally, in fact, that she makes some serious mistakes. While she's really good at her work as an analyst 80% of the time, just like Pareto said, that other 20% hurts her. To her boss, it looks bigger and bigger, and to Sue Ellen, every error adds more weight to her burden. She feels herself starting to buckle under the pressure.

You’re her leader. What might you do? What might be the trauma responsive, emotionally intelligent response and action?

I can easily tell you what it’s not. Continuing to inflate the value of the errors against the value of her successes. That only tightens the screws on both of you. Her to perform badly, you to start the exit path,

Here’s one version of what it might look like with a little explanation. Was she a good hire? Has, until recently, her value outweighed the risks her potential errors carried? If the answer is yes, what has changed? Scan the environment: any moves of desks? Working remotely or in office more? Life events? Speed or volume of work? Span? Crises in her cultural origins? What has changed that is upstream or to the side of her behavior: the inputs, the circumstances surrounding each step?

Can you spend time with her in a neutral area so she feels less threat for her job in the moment? Talk to her about her strengths and how well she is doing? Ask what she needs to be able to reduce the errors? This is present-focused, strength-based collaborative work that empowers, is transparent (come on, you both know she’s struggling), increases trustworthiness and psychological safety, and opens consideration for gender, cultural ,or historical influences.

People respond best to what they help create. Unless your hiring process is off, something is different that has initiated the pattern of errors. Find the pattern, change the inputs. Trauma impacts receptive and expressive communication.

Of course we’d be happy to talk with you about our ideas and our work, and you can always find us at The Trauma Informed Academy https://thetraumainformedacademy.com

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Elizabeth Power

Elizabeth Power, M. Ed., CEO of EPower & Associates, Inc. , is a sought-after speaker, facilitator, and consultant. EPower & Associates is the parent organization for The Trauma Informed Academy(r). "All we do is help people with change, resilience and self-care, and learning to live trauma responsively. And everything is done from the trauma-informed perspective," she says. "Even courses directly about working with trauma are about change."

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