While the world’s media focuses on the shocking activities of Anders Behring Breivik and their effect on the people who died, those who escaped, their families and friends, little is being said about the people who were directly involved in responding to the incident and rebuilding the country’s reputation: paramedics, police, decision-makers and leaders including Norway’s prime minister Jens Stoltenberg and the King and Queen of Norway.
What has been said has been extremely critical – specifically of the time it took the Norwegian police to arrive on Utoya, the island where so many young people were killed. Anger is a natural response to bereavement and, in dramatic and unpredictable incidents such as this, it is expected. It is essential, therefore, to be prepared for it – and to cope with that anger while you are also facing a trauma (finding and dealing with the bodies as well supporting and rescuing the distressed people who survived).
The same is true of the paramedics who were called to the scene. Their job means they are constantly under stress – ready to race to someone whose life is at risk, applying knowledge accurately at speed, making quick judgements, giving life-saving advice and treatment. And they face traumas day in and day out as they deal with the sad and tragic outcomes of their work.
Police and paramedics receive intensive training that includes building their resilience so they are better able to cope with stress and trauma. But it is impossible to predict whether an incident will prove too much to cope with and, if a person does reach their coping capacity, when it will happen. Offering support to people in stressful or trauma-filled jobs will reduce the time they are absent from work, help them return to peak performance, and rebuild their resilience.
People who cannot face returning to work might also need help to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem so they can find other work or cope with a life without work.
In addition, some people might be able to cope with the effects of stress and trauma while at work – but find that it is affecting their personal relationships and self-esteem or causing anxiety, addictions, eating disorders. And that could, in turn, begin to have an impact on their performance at work.
As for the prime minister and the king and queen, all leadership roles involve dealing with stress. Making decisions that impact on others, responding to crises, ordering actions or inaction, taking the responsibility and the flak – all require resilience. And they need to make these difficult decisions while remaining outwardly calm and in control. People in positions of authority at the top of organisations also need to build resilience so they can manage their stress, spot stress in others and minimise its impact on the business by offering training or support.
Finally, it isn’t only people who are connected with a traumatic incident who can be affected by it. People not there at the time might identify with aspects of it – or feel more vulnerable as a result. It is important for businesses to be aware of the potential psychological effects on others – and to offer them support and resilience training.
If you or your staff need to manage stress and cope with trauma, or are under-performing or absent because of the effects of stress or trauma, do consider providing courses that build resilience or professional psychotherapeutic support to bring them back up to peak performance. We provide training, coaching, mentoring and counselling specifically geared to people at work who face stress and trauma – including EMDR which is recognised by NICE as particularly effective for treating trauma. Do get in touch.
29/07/2011 | Posted in Trauma, Stress, Resilience, Presenteeism, Performance, Leadership, Counselling, Confidence, Coaching, Absenteeism,
13/10/2010 | Posted in Trauma, Stress, Resilience,
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