Just over six months ago, the lives of all of those who live in
and around Christchurch changed beyond belief.
On September 4th 2010 a substantial earthquake measuring 7.1 on
the Richter scale rocked the region, and on February 22nd 2011 a
shallower but more violent quake brought a heartbreaking number of
deaths and far more serious destruction and disruption to the
For businesses, the result of these quakes has to a large degree
been absolute chaos - with many offices requiring relocation and
many business owners facing painful decisions about the future
viability of their products and services.
For employees there has been serious impact on both an emotional
and practical scale. Uncertainty over the structural reliability of
homes and anxiety as a result of a relentless stream of aftershocks
has been compounded by insecurity over the long term future of
The "new normal"
Finding the strength to see the possibilities and opportunities
that exist, while leveraging the power of positive psychology on a
daily basis continues to be challenging… but by digging deep into
our personal tool box of Signature Strengths, Values, Talents and
other resources we can all find a way to navigate through this "New
From a personal perspective, my Brooklands home was munted (what a
great word!) by the September earthquake, and the possibility of
rebuild or repair looks to be far away. In February, it was
my CBD office that took the hit - and at the time of writing this
article, the careerbalance office is still well within the red
Throughout this period, my own Signature Strengths (Curiosity,
Kindness and Zest) have served me well.
Working from an assortment of cafés around the city I was able
to offer free coaching for managers and leaders who have been faced
with the difficult task of motivating their team, while personally
responding to their own circumstances of the earthquake.
Now with temporary premises, and working in collaboration with a
local sports chiropractor I am excited about the possibilities that
lie ahead for a new direction in my business and am eager to help
others explore how their own life might be positively shaped by
this life changing event.
In the interim, I have researched how coaching techniques and
positive psychology can play an important part in our personal
rebuild, and I have incorporated the results into an eBook that
I've just published called Essential
Questions to GROW Your Team.
The eBook is a collection of conversations built around the GROW
coaching model, and is aimed at helping manager and leaders have
even more effective conversations at work.
I hope you find this information valuable if you are required to
lead a team through a major disaster like the one we have
I would like to use this opportunity to formally thank all of
the amazing people who have been responsible for rebuilding and
repairing Christchurch so far. We have a long journey ahead,
but you are crucial to our recovery.
The majority of infrastructure like power, water etc. were
reinstated within hours or days of the earthquakes, and
contractors, council workers, sewerage employees and other related
industries have worked tirelessly - often around the clock - to get
the city back up and running. You are our unsung
You are all an absolute credit to New Zealand and you make me even
prouder to live here.
Trauma is a central part of the human experience. One
formal definition of a traumatic event is any event that can be
considered to be outside an individual's usual experience and
which has the potential to cause physical, emotional or
Different people respond to traumatic events in different
ways. Many of us experience quite deep distress - emotional
and physical - in the days and weeks immediately afterwards.
However, some individuals can find themselves more profoundly
impacted - either the distress doesn't get any better, or it
resurfaces unexpectedly. Either way, it can be a confusing
and sometimes distressing experience.
Regardless of how you have experienced the earthquakes, it can be
helpful to take a few moments to reflect on what happened so that
if you ever face similar circumstances in the future you are even
better resourced and feel more prepared.
Using the table on the next page, ask yourself the suggested
questions that follow the GROW (Grow - Reality - Options - Will)
You could modify them so that you can work with your team to
complete a review…or you might even decide to complete this review
with your family.
Using the GROW (Goal - Reality - Options - Will) Model:
In addition to coaching teams, managers asked me for some ideas
about questions to help them to encourage people to focus on the
positive, as opposed to dwelling on the negativity and loss.
The questions below should not replace professional counseling and
I would recommend that if your company provides access to formal
employee assistance programmes you encourage staff members to
consider using them.
Of course, there is also benefit to you accessing this
professional support yourself - if you have a robust coping
strategy of your own then you are in a much more powerful position
to be able to help to support your team.
- How have things changed for the better since the
- Since the earthquake, what positive differences have you
noticed at home? At work? In your team?
- How might things be different and better in the future as a
result of these positive differences?
- What changes have you noticed to give you hope at work? At
home? In your team?
- What opportunities can you see for yourself? Your family? Your
- If you could share one thing that you are most grateful for
that's come from this experience, what would it be?
Adapted from the ebook Essential Questions to GROW Your
Team by Kathryn Jackson.
Contact: 021 122 9513 or 03 366 5007
The ebook is available via
Professionelle for just NZD 14.99 (incl GST).
About the author
Kathryn first experienced Professionelle while
researching her first book,
How to Keep Your Cool If You Lose Your Job, for which
she interviewed Galia.
Kathryn's business is careerbalance which
specialises in providing tools and resources to support
professionals and leaders in their balance, confidence and personal