The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all facets of business around the globe. While businesses were first focused on how to operate in a socially-distanced work environment, they are now trying to figure out how to transition back into a more “normal” world — whenever that time may come.
The challenge is that the “normal” world of yesterday is not coming back. A recent Gartner study showed that only 26% of CFOs thought that their previous workforce that worked in office locations would all come back to working in those office locations after the pandemic was over. The rest of CFOs thought that between 5% and more than 50% would permanently remain remote workers.
This disruption made us at Corporate Path Leadership think about the importance of managing a team through a period of transition. We highly recommend the quick read book by William Bridges called Managing Transitions. It seems more relevant than ever in today’s new workforce change.
The author’s premise is that companies and people in general are able to think through change — and the situational factors that come with that (moving to a new location, staff changes on a team, etc.). However, the same people and companies are far less equipped to handle the actual transition — which involves the psychological impact of the change itself.
This psychological transition involves three distinct phases:
#1 – The Ending/Letting Go
This means leaving behind the processes and environments that people were used to. In the COVID world, this would reflect the teamwork and camaraderie that employees had in an office environment — and the ability to get things done through seeing people in hallways. It also reflects a social factor of talking with colleagues about topics that weren’t work related.
#2 – The Neutral Zone
This is the period we are in right now. The old way of working is gone, but the new way of what work will be like in the future is not yet known. This is a place where people can find themselves trapped and becoming less productive.
#3 – The New Beginninge
This is the phase where people are able to develop the new identity for the team and understand how to work in a new environment. In this phase, teams can be re-energized and focused.
So the big question for us is, “How do we recognize this in-between world of The Neutral Zone, and how can we move employees out of this phase when so much in the macro world around us is still unknown?”
There are many factors that can guide a team through this tricky time. We’ll use our next blog post to dive into each of them in more detail. Here is a quick overview of the topics we’ll cover:
- Leverage the uncertain time to discover creative new ideas for the team
- Try to redefine the transition period from discomfort to purposeful change
- Use the time to strengthen interpersonal connections with the team
- Officially monitor the status of this phase with the goal of getting everyone to the next phase of New Beginning
Until then, recognize that this situation is unique, and every company and team is struggling with the same issues. If your team needs any guidance or facilitation on how to get everyone more motivated and effective, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a variety of programs that range from a one-hour jump start virtual team gathering to a full blown two-day virtual session to develop your post-COVID team action plan.
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We make it easy to jump start success. Simply contact us and share your current team challenge or need, and we’ll respond with program ideas to innovate your team performance.