Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Managing Change

During this time, everyone one of us has had to deal with change, particularly to our freedoms and routine. This has made me think about change and how stressful it can be.

The Change Curve

Copyright Moss Warner https://newsfeed.mosswarner.com/change-management-communications/

Many of you will be familiar with the above curve. This was originally developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for the stages of grief but this has been applied to change management in organisations. I believe that this can also be applied to other forms of change in our personal life, the curve, though shown as linear, in reality, is not as simple. As you will read below, you will go through all stages, but not necessarily in a linear fashion – it can be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • Shock – this stage requires no explanation, the shock of the spread of the virus and how many people’s lives have been taken away by it can leave one in a constant state of shock. For your mental health, it is important to control the amount of news you read. I understand the need to stay informed – how about trying to just read an update just in the morning. The rest of the day should be dedicated to your work, recovery and mental health.
  • Denial – The seriousness of the situation was questioned at the beginning of the pandemic. Is it really a pandemic – are we scaremongering? Do we really need all these measures in place? Surely this is a bit over the top? I am sure I can visit my family even though we have been told not to. Certainly, this has been observed in governments where they did not put measures in place as soon as they should have because let’s face it – they were in a state of denial.
  • Acceptance –  As I write this, four weeks into lockdown in the UK, I have accepted the situation. I think for many of us in the UK, we have reached this stage. This has been reflected in lower use of public transport and fewer cars on the road. We have to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. We realise that we all have a part to play.
  • Depression – This is when emotions are at is at its lowest, I have flitted between depression and experimental over the past few weeks. Thinking that I have got a routine down then on some days, everything feels futile. Low energy, not willing to wake up and do anything; binge-watching Netflix and craving unhealthy foods. (I could do with a KFC bucket right now – oh right – they are closed…NOOOOOO.)
  • Experimental – This is the stage where you start engaging with the situation. Finding that routine that works for you, having a good set up at home for your home office. Making time in the diary to have lunch away from the computer screen. Protecting your time for your mental wellbeing, whether it is to read, relax or work a project you have been putting off. You are finding your rhythm. Check out my other blog post for ideas on how to survive the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Decision – This stage is similar to experimental, you are finding ways to improve your mood and mental wellness. At this stage, you have found a good routine. This is the perfect time to share your knowledge with your friends and family on how to help them to accept the situation and adapt to this new norm. This is also my way to share what I have experienced with you all. To all the readers who are earlier down the curve, it will get better – keep working on yourself and find your new rhythm.
  • Engagement/Integration – This is the final stage, the changes have been integrated and it is “onward and upward”. I think this is the big question, the world will not and should not be the same after COVID-19. I am hopeful in how the world will change for the greater good.

If you are interested to learn more, here are a few more links on the Change Curve:

Implementing Change

John P Kotter is a name you will hear often on the topic of understanding and managing change. He developed an eight-stage change model and written books – ‘Leading Change’ (1995) and the follow-up ‘The Heart Of Change’ (2002).

  1. Create Urgency – the idea is to develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. For COVID-19 we had the virus to do this for us. However, to try and implement a change, you need to spark motivation. Communication is also key, whether it is working with your partner, family and friends, to be aligned. For my family, it is agreeing not to visiting vulnerable family members, unless it is to drop off groceries and even then, only at the door.
  2. Building a guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels. This is not applicable when we are working on ourselves, however, why not find someone to be your accountability coach to keep you on the right track?
  3. Create a vision for change – When you first create change, everyone will have an opinion or idea. It is important to create an overall vision and strategy. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing something and their role in the change process. It is to help embed the change and make it clear, in your mind, what the end goal is.
  4. Communicate the vision – Talk about the vision and address peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly. This ties very closely with Stage 1 of the process, people need to understand the change and it is communicated. This is also to hold you accountable for the end goal.
  5. Empower Actions – remove obstacles and enable constructive feedback. Again, communication is key. Are you as productive as you want to be? Is there are a better way to reach goal/change you want to implement?
  6. Create short term wins – set achievable aims, this will help you keep momentum and motivation. I always feel better when I have crossed off something on my to -do list. What is your Most Important Task (M.I.T) of the day?
  7. Build on the change – real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. This is the decision – experimental part of the change curve. You want to continuously build on those new habits and positive changes.
  8. Anchor the changes – Last, but not least, make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life – make it your new norm.

For more information, here are some handy links:

May the change be with you!

Photo by Supremelysab on Unsplash

Resilience

Coronavirus

Unprecedented

Increasing deaths.

Lately, these are words we cannot escape from. Understandably, we are experiencing an incredible amount of uncertainty during this time. As a generation and global community, we have not experienced this before. No doubt, for many, there is a lot of fear and anxiety.

Will I get an infection? Would I pass it onto my loved ones? Will I lose my job? Will I ever be able to buy flour at the supermarket?

Resilience

Emotional or psychological resilience basically refers to our ability to endure stressful events, without being overwhelmed by them. Through cognitive and behaviour skills training we can improve resilience and prepare ourselves to cope better with future adversity.

Donald J. Robertson

Recently, we had a webinar about resilience at work and I thought that given the pandemic, it was the perfect opportunity to reflect and explore the different ways to build resilience. Having done a quick questionnaire, it turns out that I don’t have much cognitive hardiness (not all that surprising but does hurt the pride a bit!).

Cognitive Hardiness

Cognitive Hardiness refers to a specific set of attitudes or beliefs about work and life that are relatively enduring from day-to-day. It includes the following:

  • a sense of commitment and strong interest towards work, family, hobbies or projects and whether there are things that you look forward to doing
  • a sense of belonging with your friends, work and family
  • life changes are seen as challenging rather than threatening
  • a sense of belief that you have control over your life, where what you do is relative to what you achieve
  • individuals who have coping behaviours and possess a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem.

Some of us may be resilient already, therefore, there is not a lot more to work on. For those, like me, that do not have the traits above, it does mean we need to give up on ourselves, as there are ways to build resilience.

Building Resilience

  • Re-frame – If you are feeling overwhelmed, this is the time to step back, assess your situation with as much objectivity as you can and re-frame the problem/stress at hand. Try not to personalise the issue.
    • How bad is this problem?
    • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • Control – there will be a lot of things that we cannot control. Looking at the situation, identify what is within your circle of control and take back control. A lot of the time it may be recognising and controlling your reactions vs. not being able to control the situation or what someone has said.
  • Share – During this difficult time, make the effort to connect with friends, family and community. Though it is difficult now to see people physically, in this age of technology there are countless different apps to connect you to someone. Be vulnerable and reach out first when you need to speak to someone. Talking on the phone with my best friends always makes my day better.
  • Sleep – for many, we no longer need to commute, so why not take that time to sleep more. Letting your mind recuperate and process each day is extremely important. Want to know more, try reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
  • Explore – explore your feelings and don’t repress it. If it gets too much, try to be present at the moment. Whether this is grounding yourself or taking time to meditate, take that time to recover when you need it.

Option B

As part of trying to understand more about resilience, I read Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book, Option B. I have yet to explore the website but they have put up a new page in light of COVID-19. I didn’t think the book particularly helped with building resilience as the book is not a “how-to guide” and did not provide concrete actions.

However, I would recommend this book to anyone that has lost a loved one or how to be the supportive friend in times like these. Sadly and inevitably, we will know someone within our network that will have lost someone to COVID-19. I think this book is a great book to work through grief and understand loss.

After reading the book, heart-breakingly, I had a good friend who lost her husband, after a long illness. From the book, I learnt that I should not shy away from talking to her (the easy way out, thinking I will be in the way) and offered an open invitation for her to call me at any hour.

One of the key things that I learn from the book was that there are three P’s that can stunt recovery:

  1. Personalisation – the belief that we are at fault. It’s my fault this is awful.
  2. Pervasiveness – the belief an event will affect all areas of our life. My whole life is awful.
  3. Permanence – the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last. It’s always going to be awful.

This framework is useful when we try to re-frame the issue or problem we are facing. Do not apologise for things that are not within your control, as you are personalising the problem. Build a routine and recognise that your feeling should not touch every aspect of your life. The hardest is most likely to be permanence, but rest assured, this everything gets easier over time.

Let us all support each other to build resilience, and as Sheryl said it, let us bounce forward and find joy again.