Finding Serenity During Change

My grandmother was in AA for 32 years and she lived by the Serenity Prayer which reminds us to have “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.  I am not a religious person but this message has always spoken to me and I try to go back to it in times of uncertainty and struggle. Needless to say, the last month has definitely been one of those times.

I am very lucky.  My company was able to move to work from home pretty seamlessly and has not been devasted by this economy like others have.  My husband and I have a pretty good set up for us to be stuck at home together and our three furry babies love having us around.  But having to stay home, not being able to go to the gym, go to our local restaurants, enjoy movies and concerts and just being kept from the city we love has been emotionally draining.  The first part of every day is checking in with people in my life and the members of our team to make sure everyone is ok and ask what I can do to help.

I have read so many amazing articles with best practices about making the shift to working from home but I wanted to share some tips about another piece of this unique time we are experiencing.  We as leaders and HR partners (and humans) need to help our teams through this change. Below are some best practices I recently shared at Disrupt HR Westchester, less than a month before our whole world changed.

Help them understand what is changing and what is not changing.   During times of change, it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under you and nothing is stable.  As a leader, help them see what is not changing. Are their overall goals still the same? Are their managers and direct team members still the same?  Are their day to day objectives still the same? Try to build in some recognized normalcy into their day – daily standups, recurring 1:1’s, team meetings are some ways to create a sense of stability in an unstable world.

Give them space to work through the change as humans.  Some days are going to be easier, some days are going to be harder.   And there may not be any reason why. Two weeks ago, on a random Thursday, I woke up totally beside myself.  I had just had it with the constant updates of what was closing/being canceled. I needed to take some time to work through that and get myself re-centered.  I was honest with my team that I was having a tough day so bear with me. They got it, they were going through the same thing. Ask them how they are doing each day.  This is going to be a time where not every day is going to be someone’s best and we need to give them permission ahead of time to have a bad day.

Show them the opportunity during this time.  On the flip side of this, there will probably be opportunities during this tough time to build some new muscles.  You will need people to lead through this crisis in ways they haven’t had to before. People will need to rise to the occasion to help others when they are down.  They are going to have to think of new ways to advise clients or an internal team during this unprecedented time. Those are all development opportunities they might not have had otherwise.  Help your team see those opportunities and support their development so they can come out on the other side of this not just making it, but thriving through it.

I hope these tips helped!   For further ideas on how to help your team through change, check out a webinar I did with GoCoach last summer.  We talked a lot about the importance of humility, communication, supporting managers & leaders and most importantly, reminding teams of what they can and cannot change.  Hopefully, that will help you and your teams find a bit of serenity through such uncertain times.