Bad news outside the office can affect the mood of teams, write consultant Mollie West Duffy and Humu’s Liz Fosslien, who recommend leaders make it safe for employees to speak up and have different reactions while helping them focus on how to create positive outcomes. “We’re not suggesting you condone screaming and yelling in your workplace, but you can gently encourage your team to channel any anger or despair they express towards improving a situation or advocating for a larger change,” they write.



In recent conversations with managers and teams, we’ve consistently heard people say, “I’m angry. I’m upset. But most of all, I feel helpless.” Trying to figure out a path forward, let alone focus on pulling together a client presentation, in the face of a continuous stream of devastating news can feel impossible.

As Twitter senior engineering manager Ronnie Chen tweeted, one of her reports admitted in a 1:1, “I’m trying to compartmentalize but I’ve run out of compartments.” Here are five approaches that might help you and your team feel better when everything seems terrible.

Don’t pretend it’s business-as-usual.
The world might feel out of your control, but how you choose to respond to it as a manager is not. Often when we don’t know what to do or say, we default to silence. But if you say nothing, your team will assume you either don’t know or don’t care about world events — which will erode trust.

Depending on the size and global scale of your team, you can either address what has happened in a meeting or in a group email. Communicate like a human and from the heart. For example, in response to a mass shooting, you might say, “When reading the news this morning, I felt deep sadness, fear, and frustration.

I know this news is heartbreaking and difficult for all of us to process, and is particularly painful for our colleagues near the shooting. Here is how I/the organization can support you.”