CUNA Management School, Year 2: Dealing with the Human ‘Stuff’

This entry was posted by Wednesday, 18 July, 2012
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From Ann Peterson:

Ann Peterson is a managing editor for CUNA and currently attending Year 2 of CUNA Management School.

“I’m almost over it.” 

Friends, family, and co-workers know that’s a favorite phrase of mine.

It’s usually said with a bit of sarcasm and also irony because no matter what I’m referencing–a conflict, personal crisis, or traumatic event–I’m usually not really over it.

After today’s “Crisis Management” with Donna Tona, certified trauma specialist with Tona O’Reilly Associates Inc., I won’t use that phrase so lightly. And I’ll work harder to get over “it” and move on.

I’ve never experienced a credit union robbery–but many of my classmates have. That’s just one example of a traumatic event credit union staff and managers deal with,Tona says. The best tool you can give employees for dealing most effectively with a robbery, she says, is training. Not annually, or monthly, but daily training. Train as often as you can in meetings.

Research shows people learn better when they’re calm, too–and that’s exactly why Tona believes “mock robberies teach us nothing.” They scare staff, who don’t employ the “auto-pilot” crisis response they do when they receive daily training and reminders. 

Leadership in crisis means you make sure you take care of your employees, she says. Give them opportunities to deal with the trauma or crisis immediately and know how to communicate with them when they’re distressed. It’s how humans survive these situations and move on. Moving on is healthy. “When you suppress, you become depressed,” she says.

The purpose of today’s session, Tona says, is to “absorb different ways of thinking, to shake you up, and to evoke emotion.” 

You cannot function as a leader if you’re dead from the neck up, she adds. You have to learn how to deal with the “human stuff.”


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