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6 Ideas for Preparing for Your Return to Work in the Context of Uncertainty

Sep 01, 2021

By Anik Desjardins, Certified Coach, ACC, CRHA

How are you preparing yourself to manage in this fall’s context of uncertainty, at the start of the fourth wave, when the new hybrid work model which was to define our new reality is now postponed? In this article, discover concrete ways to help you cope with a disrupted return to work and the management of this new change.

Many managers told me this summer that they were looking forward to the fall to finally be able to return to normal life. A return to normal “like before”, with in-person meetings, informal hallway conversations, and team lunches…finally, everything would be so much easier…Others were more worried, asking themselves if they would go back to the office only to experience a continuation of what they had been going through for more than a year, that is to say an exhausting chain of meeting after meeting, in-person or even still on Teams from their desk to save time going from one room to another! Everyone had their own ideas about what the fall would be like once we were finally double-vaccinated and when we were preparing for a return to work in a hybrid format.

While we are told of collective struggle and pandemic fatigue, I am concerned with the adaptation that the situation continues to demand of managers. At the start of September, you must manage in a context that must (once again) be rethought, adjusted, and defined along the way.

Your leadership will make all the difference for you and your team, and it will have a significant impact on how you will navigate the uncertainty.  

How can you be at your best as a leader in this management of change?

Here are 6 paths I propose:

  1. Give yourself moments of reflection on a regular basis in order to be proactive, and to anticipate, reflect, and ensure that you remain focused on what you and your team need to be efficient through this change. How will you ensure that you don’t get caught up in the operations while reaching new heights every day? Reflect on how you can start delegating from today to allow yourself these moments of alignment.
  1. Prioritize your physical and mental health. I like to ask myself, “How am I doing head, heart, body?” The more these three dimensions are aligned, the more I can shine and exhibit mobilizing leadership. More than ever, ask yourself the question “What energizes me?” and fuel yourself with the elements that make up your answer. Walking? Running? Meditating? Reading? A stimulating project? Taking care of your “head” (analysis and reasoning), “heart” (mood and motivation), and “body” (energy and action) health must become your first priority. We cannot offer to others that which we do not first offer to ourselves. 
  1. Call on your team and offer proof of humility, since you will not have all the answers and you will need others (your employees, your colleagues, your managers) to find solutions to your challenges. Calling on collective intelligence will allow you to be much more creative than if you were to shoulder all the responsibility of finding solutions to challenges. How will you share the responsibility of finding solutions with your team? How will you involve them? As a bonus to relieving you, you will mobilize them! 
  1. Be attentive to the collective mood. By putting yourself in others’ shoes, it will be easier for you to adjust your communication, expectations, decisions, and priorities to take into account individual needs and the collaboration of your team members. They too will be in adaptation in the context of the uncertainty created by the pause in the return to a hybrid model. Be sensitive to what they are going through and to your work environment, and evaluate the mood and engagement of each person to allow you to address concerns as you go along. 
  1. Build your flexibility. All the experts say it. One key to success to attracting and retaining our resources at this time is to prove your flexibility, to adapt to the preferences of each person in terms of work from home or at the office, and in terms of work schedule…Attempts, mistakes, and adjustments will be called for, for both you and your team. You will need to adjust as you go, while asking your employees regularly what works for them and what does not. How will you plan time in your schedule for this? 
  1. Share with your colleagues the challenges you are experiencing and your possible options. Managers often feel alone in dealing with their management challenges. They exchange technical elements or projects with their colleagues, but very little on their management situations. As part of the leadership programs that I facilitate, managers are unanimous in sharing how much good it does them to note that others experience the same challenges and the same realities. Sharing with colleagues will allow you not only to gain new perspectives, but also to share your good practices, to boost your confidence, and to note that everyone is in the same boat.

Does reflecting on these elements and these questions allow you to see new avenues to help you manage in this context of uncertainty? If you look at the situation as if it were tailored for the development of your leadership, what would the opportunities be for you?

By reaching new heights, we can tell ourselves that we are living through a period of uncertainty which means that we develop and optimize at high speed our capacity for adaption and our agility, skills which will serve us for all our future management situations.

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