This is a guest post by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development.
Prior to the pandemic, we lived in a time of rapid change. Megatrends like globalization and technological advancements have resulted in a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA). Some find this reality to be exciting, some find it threatening, and now all are faced with the new challenges brought by COVID-19. We are called upon to navigate uncharted terrain and that isn’t easy. Leading through this time and beyond requires strong self-awareness and self-care, along with taking care of those in your charge. Here are some points to keep in mind:
Choose Where to Expend Your Energy
Worry can feel very active and spending time in that space can seem like you are working on something productive; in reality, you are just burning through energy that could be better spent. When you notice yourself worrying about what might happen or stewing about something that happened in the past, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do about it now?”
Consider your Sphere of Influence:
- No Control. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to change or influence the situation, your work is to assess whether you can learn from it, then let it go and refocus on something else. This would apply to things like the weather and essentially anything that has happened in the past.
- Possible Influence but No Control. If there is a step you can take that may influence an outcome, person, or situation, determine what action you can take to maximize that influence, follow through, and then let it go. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that worrying about it means it is within your control. Release.
- Control. If the issue you are wrestling with is completely within your control, you are likely looking in the mirror. You have control over your decisions, attitude, and behavior. What self-care practice can you initiate? What can you learn? What can you do to support someone else? What action can you take that you’ve been putting off?
Prioritize Work for Yourself and Your Team
The priorities you have now might be very different from what they were a month or two ago. Re-evaluate everything on your plate on a regular basis. Is it all still a priority? Are there other items that have bumped higher on the list? What changes had you planned that can now be postponed or slowed because of new priorities?
It is essential to look at time and resources to see if your goals are realistic within the timeframes set. Sometimes, particularly during a crisis, it can be difficult to do this as there are numerous essential projects that have to be done, but don’t just rely on that assumption. Think it through, engage in conversations, and problem solve ways to avoid burning out yourself and others. Consider these additional change strategies from Forbes.
Coping with Change Overload
As outlined by American Management Association, “Since all people respond differently to change, it’s also crucial to consider how to deal with change overload. This can manifest itself in many ways, including employees feeling excluded from the change process, expressing concern over unrealistic timelines, feeling overwhelmed by what they perceive as too many changes coming too quickly, poor engagement, concerns about insufficient resources, and more. Those leading change must proactively establish guidelines for dealing with change overload, and strategize new ways to gain buy-in, remove silos, communicate openly, and eliminate barriers.” Access the American Management Association’s free guide on The Manager’s Role During Change.
Learn from the Journey
As we move through this unique time, don’t lose sight of all that you’ve learned and contemplate what will be useful to bring forward. Have you or other team members learned new skills or developed a new way to collaborate? Did you create a new approach to an old problem? Did you seek input and address a new issue you hadn’t anticipated? Make sure that you document that learning and think about what will be useful as we move past this crisis. Necessity is the mother of invention, so don’t let all that important, creative work go to waste.
Approaching change in an intentional, thoughtful and strategic way can help you and others stay steady and healthy during the experience and beyond. All of us hit points of resistance at times. That is normal and something that can be learned from and worked through. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” It will be exciting to see what we build together as MSU moves forward.
Managing Change-How to Navigate COVID-19 and the Changes to Come. (2020, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.amanet.org/articles/managing-change-how-to-navigate-covid-19-and-the-changes-to-come/