Helping Managers to support their Employees

Credit : Photo by Amy Hirschion via Unsplash

With so many workforces being remote due to Covid, the ability of managers to support their teams and employees effectively is very much in the spotlight. For many managers, this can be an unknown area where they don’t feel like they have the right skills or know the right questions to ask.

The CBTEACH grid is a fantastic tool to help managers have impactful wellbeing conversation with their employees. In this article we will walk you through how to use the grid.

Stage 1 - Awareness


These are any life experiences or events that have happened that can impact us. It’s often a really useful way to kick off the conversation by asking your employee what has been going on for them, either at work or at home. This provides them the opportunity to recount important things that may have happened to them over the last few days. It’s important to let them speak freely here.


Once you and your employee feel ready, you can move the conversation on to this stage. Beliefs are best described as how people see themselves, others and the world around them. The purpose of this type of conversation is not to investigate or unpick beliefs, but simply provide your employee with a chance to reflect on whether recent events may have challenged or reinforced how they see things.


We know that events and experiences seen through a belief lens gives rise to certain thoughts. This can again be free flow conversation, “What’s on your mind?” or “What’s been on your mind?” can be useful prompt questions just to allow your employee the space to share their thoughts in relation to recent events.


This is often a key step and one that needs a non-judgmental approach. Following on from the section on what your employee has been thinking, it’s important to also allow them the opportunity to share how they are feeling. Remember though, all their feelings are valid and there is no wrong way to feel. In all these sections its important not to ask too many closed questions that result in a yes or no answer, instead of “Are you feeling ok?” try to go with an open question like “How are you feeling about things/everything?”.


Thoughts and Emotions are our drivers toward action. This step is really for you to understand the actions your employee may or may not have been taking as a result of the recent events and how they have made them think and feel. Situational context is important, enquiring about the positive or negative things they have been doing can be useful even for your employee to reflect on as they share them with you.


This is a step that you may find naturally combines with the previous one as you allow your employee to think about the consequences or outcomes of their actions, good or bad. It’s an opportunity for the employee to reflect on the relative success or not of their actions and whether they have been useful for them or not. This is about the consequences of their actions to themselves, and not the consequences to the business, to others or indeed to yourself as the manager.


The final step in this first stage is to understand the impact on the employees’ health. How has the events and experiences, seen through all the previous steps, gone on to impact their emotional, mental and physical health if at all, again remembering impacts can be both positive or negative.

Stage 2 - Care

This second stage is focussed more on support and looking forward, rather than the more reflective and investigative nature of Stage 1.


Ask how supported your employee is at home or at work, are they in contact with their support network, friends, family, other colleagues. This is also a good opportunity for you as a manager to let your employee know you are always available for support if they need. It’s a good opportunity to discuss how the situation may be causing increased isolation and loneliness and the need to maintain positive connections to those around us.


This step is about encouraging your employee to be themselves, ensure their individual needs are being met and encourage them to make time to do things that matter to them. This step is all about letting your employee remember they are important, and they should not be afraid to tend to their own needs.


This is often a very practical step, giving managers and employees the opportunity to talk about time management, breaks in the day from meetings, and for managers to remind employees about the importance of taking pauses throughout the day to refresh, recharge and refocus. Timeout after work is important too, both in the evenings and also to get a good night’s sleep free of any work-related distractions.


This is sometimes a tricky area for managers, and one many view as too personal, but in fact it’s a useful follow-on from the previous step by reminding your employee that taking time for breakfast and lunch are not intrusions on the working day, but are in fact part of the company’s commitment to a healthy workforce, as well as fuelling the body and mind for a more productive day ahead.


Staying active through the day is important, and for those in certain jobs, they can find themselves stationary for long periods, which is poor for many aspects of health, blood circulation being one. A quick walk, a stretch, a stair climb done at regular intervals through the day are a great way of keeping the body moving and the mind in good shape. Weather permitting, a walk outside in the fresh air is a great way to clear the mind and also help refocus.


This step is all about creativity and making time to be creative. Some employees have this opportunity at work, and some do not. We all do better when we have some creativity in our daily lives, creativity can be playful and fun which is great for mental health and wellbeing. It is an opportunity to help your employee understand the importance of this step and also discussing creative ideas for creativity, maybe team quizzes, art classes or virtual scrabble!


The final step in this second stage is about the importance of forming good habits and the positive impact it can have on wellbeing. Habits aren’t timetables but do provide some structure and routine to our lives particularly during uncertain times. Many of the previous steps in this stage can be turned into habits over time, and this is also an opportunity to discuss positive work-related habits and how to help your employee continue to build better habits in all aspects of their lives.


It’s always worth at the end of any conversation such as this to make a bit of time to recap and reflect on any key points and consider any actions for both manager and employee. While it may feel like the fourteen points over the two stages is a lot to cover in a conversation, spending on average a minute per step is a good rule of thumb. Sixty seconds is a lot longer than we think! Of course, every conversation will be unique and its down to the good judgment of the manager on how to ensure the most impactful conversation.

The CBTEACH approach and grid is a really useful way of helping managers and employees structure conversations around health and wellbeing. Remember this is not counselling or coaching but simply good line management!

With practise you will be able to get into the habit of having highly effective wellbeing conversations with your employees and it could take less than 15 minutes!

To understand how CBTEACH can support you, your employees and your organisation do get in touch with us. For those that want to buy and download their own copy of the grid to use, click here. We can also share sample questions and sample answers, please drop a request through if you would like a copy.

Stay safe and stay well,


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