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How to Survive Your Emergency Management Position

Surviving the average emergency management office is no easy task. Do you dread turning on the weather, afraid that the next storm is coming your way? Do you avoid checking your email on Monday mornings sure you missed something? Are you anxious about the project you are not actively planning for? You are not alone. Thousands of emergency managers across the nation feel your pain.

If you have moments of feeling overwhelmed by your workload, there are strategies and techniques that you can follow that may help. While these are not exhaustive, the following strategies are a good start.

Be Professional

There is nothing worse than trying to operate when you are not coming from a position of power. You need to make sure that you demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities. If you are not seen as a professional, you will not be treated like one.

Redefine Success

Attempting to define success is a dangerous business. Make sure that those you work with and for are defining it the same way. When your administration thinks you should be at one point and you another, this causes all sorts of problems. Be clear about your abilities and the expectations placed on you, and you might avoid many of these issues.

Take Time to Zone Out

While it might seem strange, taking some time to “zone out” might help you refocus. Sometimes to re-charge your creativity you need to give your mind a chance to wander.[1] When you take the time to refocus, issues that seemed overwhelming minutes before, may become clearer.

Do Not Be the Hero

If you are the “go-to” person at work, do not overdo the self-reliance. Stop and ask "what am I doing alone that someone could help me with?" Now, for the hard part: Ask that person to help and then let them. You cannot lessen your stress while also trying to be the hero.[2]

Power Through It

The hard truth is that sometimes you just need to power through it. I can remember multiple times when I just wanted to pack up my office and leave on a permanent vacation; I decided to just tuck my chin and keep moving forward. Once things had settled down, and I was able to catch my breath, I was glad that I had stuck it out. In fact, several times, things seemed a little more surmountable the next day.

You are going to have moments of feeling overwhelmed and beaten down at work. Based on what we do, it is the nature of the beast. There are ways to lessen the impact of a rough week at work though. If you follow these steps, you can survive emergency management, and live to serve another day.



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