HBA Metro – Shift Happens: Dealing with the Impact of Economic and Business Pressures – An HBA Metro Executive Women’s Breakfast held on June 11, 2009 | HBA

HBA Metro – Shift Happens: Dealing with the Impact of Economic and Business Pressures – An HBA Metro Executive Women’s Breakfast held on June 11, 2009

Nearly 40 people gathered at inVentiv Health for a presentation and discussion, called: “Shift Happens: Dealing with the Impact of Economic and Business Pressures” for the Executive Women’s Breakfast Series. InVentiv Health is a leading provider of commercialization services to the global pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, is a proud corporate sponsor of the HBA and a direct sponsor of this June 11th event

Special thanks to inVentiv Health for sponsoring this EWB event!

- Written by Jennine Arena

Nearly 40 people gathered at inVentiv Health for a presentation and discussion, called: “Shift Happens: Dealing with the Impact of Economic and Business Pressures” for the Executive Women’s Breakfast Series. InVentiv Health is a leading provider of commercialization services to the global pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, is a proud corporate sponsor of the HBA and a direct sponsor of this June 11th event.

The presenter, Maria Seddio, MA is the President of CorpTalk, LLC, located in Westfield, NJ. She is also the current president of the New Jersey Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The focus of the June 11 discussion was to provide an overview of coping skills needed to build a healthy well-being and resiliency for effectively handling challenging times, both at work and at home. Maria led the discussion with the various challenges in the current economy such as the increase in unemployment, the decrease in real estate and investments, the rising cost of living, and in particular, how the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve/change. The big question – what will the future hold?

Stress and health
Many people do not cope with these stresses and uncertainties well and this can cause health issues if techniques are not learned. Maria listed various symptomatic reactions to both stress and anxiety, such as worrying, nervousness/restlessness, erratic moods, irritability, frustration, anger, difficulty concentrating, de-motivation, impaired judgment, and isolation. Prolonged stress and anxiety can lead to burnout and other health risks such as biochemical/hormonal imbalances, a compromised immune and nervous systems, and other chronic ailments. Many times, overeating and drug and alcohol problems can develop to help “numb the pain.”

Stress and work
In addition to our individual health, stress and anxiety have an impact on our work. A person under stress finds that focus, energy, commitment and productivity is diminished - they just try to “get by.” They “hunker-down” mentally with no motivation. Meanwhile, competition increases for jobs, key projects and resources. Anger and tension build, and collaborations suffer. Add in the survivor guilt of feeling bad that you have a job while others have lost theirs, and the general worry about the future and what MIGHT happen, and it is no wonder the vicious cycle of stress is all around us.

Maria gives us advice on 3 things Executives DON’T want to do as a reaction to stress.

  1. Don’t avoid dealing with what is going on with employees. They NEED support and good leadership now more than ever
  2. Don’t pass along the pressure. This implodes the system if everyone is already on “overload”
  3. Don’t shut down communication. If you aren’t in discussions or aware of what is going on then you can’t influence it

Maria then advised what is imperative for leaders to develop high-performing AND resilient individuals/teams. First, assess your OWN healthy well-being. Are you eating right, sleeping well, exercising and taking time to relax? Reflect on what is working and not working. Then, communicate a meaningful future vision and show your team how they can contribute to this success. Be sure to provide resources and authority for your team. Demonstrate balanced realism – in other words, stay positive as much as you can but don’t “sugarcoat” difficulties. Acknowledge any issues, come up with solutions, and don’t dwell on the negatives. Most of all, take time out to celebrate the “wins” and have fun with your team!

Stress and home
The economic stresses reach into our personal lives at home. Perhaps the original breadwinner is no longer in that role and making adjustments can be difficult. The stress of managing kids and, increasingly, aging parents, can add to the stress.

The good news
Women have a distinct advantage to lead effectively during these challenging times. Women have an “empathetic brain and are socially wired.” We have had lots of practice, with thousands of years of social conditioning for supporting others!

Four key strategies
1) Develop a Big Picture Perspective

  • Remember – whatever is happening, it is bigger than one person
  • Things are interconnected and interdependent – pay attention to how they fit together
  • Consider and find out how your behavior is perceived by others – encourage others to do the same

2) Get Informed

  • Learn how to recognize and address the signs of stress and anxiety, and how to prevent bigger issues
  • Learn about available resources and support. Help make resources available to employees
  • Consider new networking resources, relationships and affiliations that you can benefit from
  • Explore contingency plans for responding to “what ifs” so you will be better prepared for whatever may happen

3) Take Action

  • Behave in ways so you are regarded as part of the SOLUTION and not the problem
  • Focus on what CAN be done and not what cannot. Create quick “can do-s” to build momentum – even the smallest things count
  • Engage people – ask for their ideas and get them involved
  • Address issues early
  • Obtain relevant help for yourself and others when it is needed (professional and other resources)
  • Commit more time to your team/family. You need them and they need you more than ever
  • Foster teambuilding and collaboration
  • Get your “financial house” in order (both at work and home)
  • Create a safe and supportive environment. Encourage people to engage in dialogue and express their thoughts, feelings and needs

4) Keep People Talking

  • Explore what could be different. Find out what is important to each team/family member, what you would like to change so you can be in alignment to the vision/mission/objectives, values and philosophy
  • Be open and approachable. Others may need encouragement to talk
  • Surface differences safely. Be sure to use constructive dialogue to resolve issues
  • Listen with empathy and understanding. Let people FEEL heard. You don’t necessarily need to solve the issue or agree with them

Lastly, Maria went over what goes into a healthy, productive conversation. “Say, think, feel.” Be able to speak openly (say), share how you think, and understand and be willing to share how you feel. When these all line up, our experiences feel authentic and in sync. When they don’t line up, our experience feels unreal and disjointed.

The morning then turned to small group discussions on the topic with the people at each table. The energy in the room could be felt as ideas were shared among the attendees. After 45 minutes of the roundtable discussion, a group summary of the topic was presented and a warm round of applause was given to Maria for her insightful presentation.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi – wise words that Maria included at the end. I am a big believer in many of Maria’s teachings. It is difficult to stay positive when so much negative influence is around us about the doom and gloom of the economy. It’s the talk around the “water cooler.” It is up to each of us to “choose” to stay positive and learn ways of maintaining an upbeat attitude. Thank you, Maria, for giving the HBA Metro Chapter strategies on how to cope and communicate during these difficult times.

Click here to learn about eligibility criteria for participating in Executive Women’s Breakfast (EWB) Series events.

Click here PDF icon for the presentation slides from the event.
Click here PDF iconfor a full downloadable Discussion Summary from this EWB Series event.
Click here PDF iconfor a speaker biography.
Click here PDF iconfor the event handout.

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