Every year, my big Italian family would have a family meeting on January 1st to discuss what happened during the previous year and what we wanted to achieve or do in our new year. My dad encouraged each of us to take inventory of what has been, imagine what we each wanted and then build a plan to achieve it.
I built on this approach and created the Review, Rethink and Respond process. What follows is guidance in how to Review what has happened, Rethink what you want to achieve and Respond by developing a plan to move forward in our COVID-19 world.
Step out of the panic, anxiety and concern of the moment and calmly, rationally and intentionally look at your situation. Notice the details. Gather information, don’t judge them. I find the best way to do this is to start with a blank page. Draw a line down the middle to create two columns. Title the left column, What Worked. Title the right column, What Didn’t Work. Create a page for each of the areas below for work and life. This will help you create a process to always get clear about what is so you can then imagine and build a future response.
As a leader or manager, review these workplace areas:
- Your leadership approach.
- How you handled moving employees to remote status.
- How you handled / are handling layoffs and furloughs.
- How you handled / are handling employee engagement in a crisis.
- How your employees responded in and to this crisis.
- How your employees supported / are supporting your customers in this crisis.
- Other areas you and your team can think of
As a parent or guardian, review these life areas:
- Your parenting approach.
- How you handled / are handling working at home.
- How you handled / are handling home schooling.
- How you kept the family together, energized and safe in the crisis.
- How your family responded to the crisis.
- How your family (including extended and remote) supported each other in the crisis.
- Other areas you and your family can think of.
When you take the time to create a summary of each of these areas, what does it tell you? What decisions and choices created things that worked? What decisions and choices create things that did not work? You now have clearer information about how you reacted or responded in the crisis. Every action shares information with you if you are open to seeing it and reviewing it, so you can use it to be wiser in imagining and directing how to move forward.
This one may be tough because there is so much uncertainty about what “normal” even means. So much has been turned upside down from the way we used to do things that perhaps it is unreasonable to think that the old normal is possible, or even desired. We know that many things about work, home, our planet and other areas were not working well in our old normal. Could this create a moment to reset, to imagine something better?
Ask yourself: what could post-COVID-19 look like? Imagine what it could look like, what it could be like for you, your family, your colleagues. You don’t have to get this right. You just have to imagine in this direction and stay tuned in to how things are developing.
Imagine what these workplace areas COULD look like:
- Your leadership approach.
- How employees work and what the workplace is.
- Which employees belong on your team and your plan to replace or add others.
- How to keep everyone informed through improved or new forms of communication.
- How to source, interview, hire and onboard new talent.
- How to manage (guide, support, develop, meet, activate and coach) employees in whatever way work develops.
- How to keep a sense of team identity and drive engagement in whatever way work develops.
Imagine what these home/life areas COULD look like:
- Your parenting approach.
- How work and school can share the same space.
- How schooling and learning will be done.
- How you and your kids will build / maintain social contacts.
- How to create a nurturing and supportive environment to accommodate a world of change and a new normal (safe space).
- How to keep family members safe, healthy and mentally well in changing times.
The quality of the answer in a period of extreme uncertainty isn’t as important as the commitment to start thinking and imagining the scenarios of what could be so you can take confident steps forward when the time is right.
The reason to create several possible scenarios is that too much is currently uncertain. Thinking about several approaches to what could be considered successful in a post-COVID-19 response enables you to not only respond quickly but to also, and perhaps most importantly, influence the direction of change.
You have noticed and assessed your current situation – what worked and what didn’t work.
You have started to imagine a broad direction of a path toward a new normal.
Next is preparing yourself by defining a plan and setting trigger points, the things that will trigger your action plan to get started.
In a mindful, intentional and logical way, define the trigger points so, when they happen, they serve as your indicators to implement or to act. This lets you focus on your current moment with full attention because you have thought about your options and are watching for when something requires action. For example, it could be defining for your family or workplace what moving back into public means (when it is approved by your state) and what precautions your workplace and family will follow to do it safely.
Ensure that everyone on your team or in your family is included in your response. Everyone should have a role and know their role to support the successful achievement of any response. This both engages everyone involved because they know they have a stake in the outcome, and it helps them stay more connected and vigilant in watching for the activation triggers.
Though our world can activate our feelings of anxiety, worry and fear, having the Review, Rethink and Respond process can help us more mindfully and calmly learn to look at our world, wisely assess our situation, creatively invent options and resiliently work on a plan. This can help us remain focused on not just surviving in a crisis but thriving to come out better on the other side.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading The Year to Get Clear