Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring how to support leaders to create a ‘new rhythm’ for themselves and with their teams. A couple of key concepts that leaders are finding useful are models that help us stay connected with the normalcy of what people are going through and also highlight the fact that people will be coping in different ways and moving through change at different paces.
Virginia Satir’s Change Model is a simple model that helps leaders understand and coach people through the change process while normalizing the chaos that is to be expected.
David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.
In a recent interview with HBR he summarizes the stages of grief to normalize the emotions people are going through.
He also emphasizes these stages are not linear. We may move on to the next stage only to drop back to a previous stage when we are presented with new information or for no apparent reason.
“But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world.
There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?
There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.
Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies.
We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.”
When people have an opportunity to see the chaos and grief as a ‘normal’ part of the process, and when they have a forum to talk about it with others, share their chaos and grief, it allows them a release.
Once they have released, there is potential to help them move one step closer to acceptance and feeling more in control in order to create an action plan to move forward and find their new rhythm.
New Rhythms and Rituals
In the article 'The Restorative Power of Ritual', Mike Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School who has studied rituals and their effects on our wellbeing, says "We feel out of control when we experience loss – we didn’t want it to happen, but we couldn’t control it.
That is, in and of itself, a very unpleasant feeling, that sense that you’re not in charge of your life." He goes on to say that "Rituals restore some of that control."
Here are some ‘new rhythms and rituals' being shared by the many amazing leaders we have the honor of working with…
- Home office rituals
“Having a space that is well organized and has all the equipment, supplies and tools I need to continue working effectively helps me feel like I have some control”, one leader shared.
Another leader talked about how he used to use the commute time to decompress at the end of the day, so he was ready to be present for his family when he walked through the door.
Just because his commuting time has changed it does not change his need for that decompression time.
He is now working on creating a new ritual to decompress before he opens the door of his home office and steps into his family time.
- Daily check-in rituals - asking the question, ‘How are YOU today?’ Several leaders have highlighted the importance of connecting with their team on a human level first before diving into the work discussion.
As Kessler points out, the path through grief is not linear…someone can be fine one day and be in a different place emotionally the next.
- ‘What’s staying the SAME’ rituals
Anyone who has led through a M&A process knows that one of the keys to getting employees on board and committed to the ‘new org’ is to acknowledge what was really successful from the old way of doing business and what will not be changing going forward.
Several leaders in the past few weeks have talked about how they are taking time to communicate the vision, values and mission of the org, this is not changing, how we do our business might change, there might be new challenges and new opportunities arise out of the current landscape, however who we are and what we are about is not changing.
Many others are talking about how continuing to conduct their regular meetings via video conference feels like a bit of a ‘lifeline’ for the team to stay connected and feeling some sense of normalcy to their days and weeks.
- Self-care rituals
Leaders are talking about their concerns for their leadership team and the potential for ‘burn out’ as they seek to take care of their people.
Conversations turn to ‘How can I get my leaders to take care of themselves?” Encouraging the leadership team to create some daily self-care rituals and post them to a leadership team forum is one way a leader I spoke with created some accountability and a bit of positive peer pressure for her team.
- Fun rituals
We can grieve loss AND be thankful for our blessings all at the same time. It is not one or the other…it is an AND situation.
Leader’s have talked about virtual cocktail parties at the close of the ‘work day’ on Fridays; virtual lunch hours where everyone hops on video and eats lunch together with the only rule being ‘no work talk’; ‘water cooler’ chat rooms set up to share new recipes, activities, poems, good books and movies and tv shows; ‘pajama day’ and ‘bad hair day’ team meetings.
People need permission to be grateful and joyful during this time of chaos and uncertainty.
What are your new rhythms and rituals?
We would love to hear from you…what have you been doing to take care of yourself and support your team to create their ‘new normal’?