In early March, I began preparing our life for the global pandemic, which without a doubt was going to have a major impact on our daily lives. There was clear evidence as schools closed, businesses began shifting their workplace into remote operation and the daily chaos created by the rapid changing of policy which placed everyone in a reactionary state.
The majority of my work can be done virtually, so it was necessary for me to prepare mentally, create a physical space for a remote employee (my husband) and craft a remote employee orientation program with clear agreements and workplace behaviors. It was important that we respected the boundaries of our work styles and the confidentiality of our respective clients and nature of the work we do. Once everything was in place, I was ready. The week of March 16th we settled into a routine of sheltering in place, managing the integration of our personal and professional lives as mandated by public governance.
AND then on March 30th – the governor ordered a Shelter in Place until June 10th. I wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly, so I hit rewind and sure enough – he had said June 10th. I immediately had a reaction which I couldn’t quite figure it out. My mother would have said “I was feeling out of sorts”. As the feeling began to intensify, I said to my husband – “he said June 10th! To which he replied – “is there somewhere you need to be?” At that point I retreated to my treadmill to work through what I finally was able to name as a feeling of disbelief and then a sense of loss.
I am a skilled professional in managing change and transition. I coach and train my clients on change management techniques; therefore, you would think that I would immediately apply my knowledge, to continue to thrive.
In reality – regardless of our profession, we all experience and navigate the emotions affiliated with change differently. I quickly realized during my one hour walk on the treadmill that this was a transitional state more than a change state for me. As I walked through the various change modalities in my head, the ADKAR model, Lewin’s Change model and the Kubler Ross’ change curve – I settled on the Bridges Transition Model to best describe what I was experiencing.
Here are three tips that helped me to navigate through this feeling using Bridges Transition Model:
Tip 1 – the first phase of the transition is the Ending or Letting Go Stage. During this time allow your self to navigate the various stages of emotion that you may be experiencing. Be sure to take time to Name the emotion – is it anger, is it frustration or is it sadness. Identify the loss - for me it was that we were cancelling our Easter weekend getaway, I would miss my annual birthday celebrations, mother's day and the celebrations of 3 of my grandchildren's birthday.
Tip 2 – the second phase is the Neutral Zone – it is the bridge between the old and the new. Immediately at the start of the pandemic – the phrase settling into the New Normal emerged, implying that this was the new way of living/operating. The new normal occurs in the change management process when there is clear guidance on the new operations, and an employee begins to accept and trust the new organizational state. We are not there yet. During phase II, the Neutral Zone - focus on establishing routines, maintaining productivity and taking care of your personal well-being. It is important to note that during this phase you may slip like I did, back to phase I and experience emotions such as loss or disbelief.
Tip 3 – the final transitional phase is the New Beginning. In this phase the change has been accepted and the energy is high. At this point – begin to think about the New Normal – what has occurred during the transition that you would like to maintain or discard, what new routines will emerge and remain open to the unknown.
In closing, I have settled back in the neutral zone and resumed our daily routines. The end of the story has not yet been written, We are in a state of transition, which will lead to new rules, behaviors and a change to our way of life. We will all experience this period differently. You are not in this alone – we are #alonetogether. #alignpeoplewithpurpose
Be well and stay safe.