Dealing with the vaccine mandate as a business owner

When my lovely wife and I rang in the New Year, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about what 2022 would hold. You know I’m a big ritual guy, and so it only made sense to use that time as reflective, empowering and supportive to my own goals and dreams for the upcoming year. And boy wouldn’t it be grand to live in that space for a little bit longer than a few hours? Where our hearts are full and our minds are dreaming of everything that ‘could be’. Because when we step back into reality, there’s some stuff we’re all dealing with right now that isn’t the cheery “new year, new me”, inspirational stuff. Like vaccines and mandates, the great resignation and a worker shortage.

Becoming Change Proof

As small-business owners continue to face challenges in preparing for the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, leadership is more important than ever. Every single time I am hired to come in as a leadership speaker, I hear the growing pains of a business economy being forced to accept the COVID way of business. Each new day bringing unknown hoops to jump through and hot coals to dance across. What this does to a leader at the helm is amplified in their workforce, with teams facing down uncertainty, change and fear. Which tells me, it’s time to reframe.

My latest book, Change Proof speaks to these growing pains and how much value exists in these hurdles, if we employ simple skills, like reframing, and then use the hurdles as accelerants. We are more than capable of using stress, uncertainty, change and even fear, adjusting the way we approach each one, to grow personally and professionally. As a leadership keynote speaker, I love zeroing in on these often taboo topics while putting emphasis on solutions to make the most of these uncertain, exponentially changing times.

Too Taboo? 

A key part of leadership, and becoming change proof, is creating a “got your back” culture in the face of divisiveness. This means that when people are really ‘dug in’ on their respective views, it becomes a leadership task to create an environment where everyone feels supported and safe. Resiliency and an emotionally strong workplace culture go hand in hand because, what we know to be true is that, when we feel safe and supported emotionally, we have freedom to grow professionally.

Change Proof teaches a simple, 3-step process that walks the reader through the process of Pausing, Asking, and then Choosing. This activity can be implemented with teams, where leaders create an emotionally safe environment, where everyone can see new perspectives, consider how they feel about each one, and make more informed decisions while supporting the emotions of those around them.

We don’t talk much about emotion in a professional setting, do we? It’s kind of -very- taboo, but now that it’s 2022 (whew!)I want to flip that on its head. I want to talk about how healthy emotions support a healthy workplace – and vice versa. And how these emotions hold so much potential in our business ecosystem.

Resilience Makes the World Go Round

This type of “got your back” culture is essential for creating a resilient organization. When times are tough, employees need to feel like they can count on their team members and management to support them. This type of environment is also crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. Talented workers want to know that they will be able to work in an environment where they feel respected and valued, and safe to express where they stand and how they feel. Especially as the lines between personal health and corporate culture are becoming more and more blurred. On top of that, they want to feel that their corporation is investing in their growth, by teaching Change Proof principles or offering options for growth and development.

Here’s The Controversy
Under current federal regulations, businesses with more than 100 workers must make sure their staff is vaccinated appropriately or else test negative for Covid-19 at least once a week and wear masks at work. In response to legal challenges, a federal appeals court put the rules on hold while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration agreed not to start enforcement until after a court ruling. Many company owners are nevertheless preparing for the rule, which became official on January 4th.

Q: How can you, as a leader, frame or reframe this potential change to your teams?

The Battle Lines Are Drawn

If there was ever a time where people have dug in, and are finding themselves, without a doubt, on one side of the fence or the other, it’s right now. Which means, creating a middle ground that is supportive is incredibly important. If we rewind to 2020, something happened. We forgot how to compromise, or we became unwilling to. The battle lines were clearly drawn and what’s even worse, conversations became impossible. Agree to disagree all but disappeared. We stopped listening to one another. We stopped hearing one another.

Q: How can you, as a leader, use the reframe (from the question above) to help your teams feel supported and safe?

Evolutionary Leadership

Leaders everywhere are trying to keep the lights on, and the mandates straight, and are now tasked with something much more evolutionary. Creating a “got your back” culture (a tenant of a resilient culture) in the face of this type of divisiveness, when “people have dug in” on their respective views, will require planning. This level of impact will require effort. This effort to reframe will require patience. And this type of culture will require constant support – but the payoffs will be more than worth it.