Staying on Track in Times of Change
Change is never easy and leading a team through course corrections like staff restructuring or system revamps can certainly present challenges. Typically, when confronted with change, our natural reaction is to worry and stress about what we don’t know or understand.
However, when global events impact our lives (such as today’s Covid19 health crisis), worry and stress become unprecedented. How do leaders keep teams calm? How do they keep them on track?
To our retail clients and business associates, we know that operational issues to protect customers, communities and colleagues are at the forefront of your daily life. We’d like to offer management tips as you move forward in this time of great change.
First and foremost, two-way conversations are important. People are dealing with three, wide-ranging emotional reactions to the pandemic: worry, stress, anxiety. Worry happens in your mind. Stress happens in your body. Anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry and stress can be positive forces in our lives. But, it’s likely you and those around you are experiencing more than small doses at this time.
Here are some conversation starters to engage others in two-way conversation and help to mitigate stress:
- What are you feeling with respect to the actions that have been taken to protect you (and our customers)?
- What makes these feelings an unproductive response? (results in worry)
- How does resistance impede your ability to adapt? (worry helps people solve problems; resistance means the person is “stressed.”)
- Why does acceptance of changes in our social lives feel like a compromise to you?
- What are the benefits of collective engagement (we’re all in this together) in adapting to change?
Center for Practical Management offers some activities to help navigate the coming weeks:
- Write the worries down. Research shows that just 8-10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts. Sharing worries in a team setting allows people to know that are not alone; it gives voice to their concerns.
- Encourage each other to come up with at least one “next step” or action to take. This can be done in collaboration if working with/on a team.
- Allow people in your life an amount of time each day for their worry. Once the time is up (say 10 minutes), consciously redirect thoughts.
- Stay in the present. Understand that right now most worries are health concerns. However, some people have already moved forward to “what’s next?” This may be worries about layoffs, loss of wages, and investment portfolios. Stay focused on the now. Think forward in two-week increments.
- Recognize the uncontrollable. Identify which worries on your list are within your control, not in your control. Again, seeing this on paper can often help you manage stress—turning it to productive action.
- Resist comparing your stress with others’. Each of us will experience stress differently, including the stress of working from home; not working at all; not meeting goals because customers are staying home, etc. Above all, be realistic with expectations of each other in this time of change. For example, working from home has implications. Is their space at home for this? Childcare options? Ability to limit distractions.
Leadership decisions now can positively and productively create a very unexpected outcome in the weeks ahead: higher levels of employee engagement through different, perhaps better ways to work collaboratively.
Stay well and be healthy.
Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com.