Turn crisis into a growth opportunity

AS we continue to survive under the difficult circumstances, our personal and professional contexts continue to change. As such, we are required to continually adapt week after week, day after day. We are working in new ways with different constraints, different physical spaces, and new technology.

Robert Mandeya

Most of us are also managing hectic home situations, including childcare, home schooling, being alone, or enjoying a lot more time with partners than usual. Managing the changes taking place in our personal and professional has not been easy so far and the question is how can you keep yourself going as human a being?

Staying connected

Research shows us that connecting authentically with people, even for brief moments, increases our mental, emotional and even physical well-being. When we are isolated and pushing hard, however, staying connected can be difficult. It is tempting to push through our workday and not take the time for a virtual lunch, coffee or happy hour. I have also heard that people feel overwhelmed and wired by the virtual connections, that is, too many Zoom conferences, texts, video messages — they cannot keep up!

What matters is finding a connection that is meaningful and sustaining for you. You may prefer to do one-on-one coffee chats with a co-worker or friend. In Zimbabwe particularly, people are energised by meeting for a braai over a few drinks with colleagues. Such gatherings have been thin and scarce in this period of Covid-19. Whatever the case, we all need connection, so find what fills your cup the most and be intentional about scheduling two or three connections a week.

Prioritise recovery

All resilient people recover. Period. It is how people sustain high levels of well-being and performance. As human beings, we cannot push endlessly without recovering in some way.

Right now, there is a whole lot of hustle happening as we manage significant changes to how we work, support our businesses as they navigate economic turmoil, and try to keep all the balls in the air on the home front. You may not think you have time for recovery, and you are not alone. A lot of my talk with executives at this time indicates that a lot of people are overwhelmed by the situation.

Given the current pace of our lives, I have had to prescribe a few practical ways to build recovery on a daily basis as part of my coaching and mentorship programmes.

The reality is that recovery can be quick and remain impactful. And we need physical, mental and emotional recovery. Luckily, these often come together. Recovery looks different to everyone, but common ways to recover include getting a full night’s sleep, drinking water, moving your body, connecting with other people in a meaningful way, laughter, and being out in nature. It is tempting to feel like you do not have time for recovery.However, to sustain your pace, performance, well-being and resilience, you must build in time to recharge your batteries.

Frame adaptation as success

Our current context is changing constantly and so must our resilience practices. What you needed in the first month of staying at home (for example, constant virtual connection to ease you into being isolated) may not serve you in month two (for example, less or more intentional virtual connections).
Success does not necessarily mean flawlessly adhering to resilience practices. Success is paying attention to your needs, holding practices loosely, and viewing everything as a learning opportunity.

To illustrate how to adapt, here is an example from my self-care routine. When the stay-at-home orders began, I was staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. I decided to make a goal of getting to bed by 10pm every night for a week. However, that week brought urgent work issues that required my attention and resulted in later bedtimes.

Rather than beat myself up for this self-care failure, I accepted the reality of that week and pivoted my plan to care for myself. I upped my water intake and made sure I took a walk outside every day to compensate for my lack of sleep. I held my self-care plan loosely, but still intentionally took care of myself. Adjusting my goal for the week was not failure. Adapting my practices to meet the reality of my week was a win.

Resilience and growth

We are facing unprecedented times of change for our organisations and ourselves. To continue showing up to serve our families, communities and organisations, we need to build practices that support resilience. Being intentional about your resilience practices will help you through this challenging time and come out the other side stronger than before.

Change management

Before the crisis,I regularly spoke at company events, usually for single organisations rather than public groups, and primarily to audiences comprising senior managers, directors, vice-presidents and C-level leaders. In the past two years alone, I have delivered talks to more than 500 leaders.

I discovered that although change management is part of the corporate lexicon, and leaders know of or have some exposure to it, they are not comfortable with their organisation’s understanding of it. This leads me to believe that change management conversations among leaders at the start of a project or an initiative usually do not start with a common understanding of change management.

Mandeya is a certified executive leadership coach, corporate education trainer and management consultant and founder of Leadership Institute of Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/ or info@lird.co.zw, Facebook: @lirdzim and Mobile/WhatsApp: +263 719 466 925.