Kate Nelson, Partner, Change Guides
Friday, May 22, 2020
Helping Others Thrive During Times of COVID-19. Change seems to be ubiquitous right now. Our communities, families, work, daily routines are experiencing change at a breakneck speed. From the macro to the most micro levels, each of our lives are shifting. It would be easy to just say “our world is changing”, which of course it is. But the way each individual processes the change happening in our world at large is in the big and small ways our individual lives are changing. While the headline is “pandemic”, for each of us individually, the story is about how our personal lives are shifting.
As human beings, we continually strive to feel control, understanding, support, and purpose. We need to feel like we have some semblance of control of our lives, we need to feel as though we understand what is happening around us, we yearn to feel supported, and we need to feel that we each matter by fulfilling some purpose. During change, control, understanding, support, and purpose are often thrown out of equilibrium.
When that equilibrium is out of whack, we start to show signs of anxiety, frustration, irritation, and depression. Even in ‘non-COVID’ times, change is hard. Today, with the pandemic raging around us, dealing with change is even harder. Why is change harder to navigate for people now than it was before the pandemic? Because on top of the typical drivers of change, there are large looming unknows that are completely out of our control. When will there be a vaccine? When will widespread testing be available? When will kids go back to school? How much will the economy suffer and when will it rebound? Will my job (if I still have one) be safe? The questions go on and on and on.
Your role as a change manager is more important than ever right now. During times of change, it is helpful to think about how we can help people reestablish a sense of control, understanding, support and purpose. Just because this is an especially difficult time does not mean that we can’t help ourselves and others deal with the ambiguity around us productively to minimize the negative effects of change. Finding that equilibrium is indeed possible – it is what you have been helping people do throughout your career. It just means you need to work a little harder to find it.
Change is not over. As the economy slowly restarts, more changes are inevitable. So, this is when you get to work. If you are struggling, that is OK. Recognize it and be patient with yourself. You need to help yourself before you can help others. Think about how you can maintain your sense of control today and tomorrow. Seek to understand some parts of the world around you, however wide or narrow in scope. Develop and cultivate the support you need now and in the future. Share how you are striving to make a difference that matters to you and those around you and how you are helping others to do the same.
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