What is a “trauma-informed management strategy” and what execs would care?

Ted Bauer
3 min readAug 26, 2021

Here’s a new-ish article on “protecting your mental health at work” (good topic) and you get down a little ways and see this:

“Wide variation in employee experiences, perceptions, and expectations makes it basically impossible to design a one-size-fits-all policy,” said N’cho, executive director of the N’cho Behavioral Group. “In order to contend with these variations, companies should incorporate a trauma-informed management strategy that encourages leading with flexibility, facilitating open, honest, two-way communication between staff and leadership, and most importantly, promoting post-traumatic growth.”

As I read that paragraph, I was nodding … wide variations in employee experiences is for sure too. I’ve mentioned that before, under the guise of something called “new people features.” I agree with flexibility, two-way comms, etc. But …

What in the hell is “trauma-informed management strategy?”

I think we understand the term on face, for sure. You’re managing in a way that reflects that employees have had it tough because of COVID and lack of social interaction and the like. In other words, it’s a fancy concept for empathy.

The problem, of course, is that many executive-level leaders lack empathy. Some are outright sociopaths. When they hear a term like “trauma-informed management strategy,” they instantly think “Oh, this is some woke Gen Z bullshit I’m supposed to care about, but I’m busy keeping the lights on and the deals flowing so that these kids can keep income streams.” There is a really sharp black dividing line these days between “the woke” — talking about these issues constantly — and “the work,” i.e. doing the stuff to advance these issues (and revenue!) inside companies. There’s a huge class of people getting strong personal brands by talking about trauma at work, but usually all they do is talk about it. There’s no real strategy to make it better, because the people who can snap their fingers and initiate something new in an organization — the executives — don’t even see trauma and burnout as “a crisis.” They see it as working hard and hustling to get stuff done. They virtue-signal back to their career ladder rise. “Things were hard, and I rose above.”

Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.