Rosebowl exterior shot

Monday the first of June 2020, the start of a new week and a new month, what will this month bring?

Looking back over the last two months of the Coronavirus pandemic, I realised I had been on a journey through the House of Change (a model originally developed in the 1970's by Claes F Janssen) and I am now moving into the Room of Renewal embracing words like synchronous and asynchronous.

Back in February, I was in the Room of Contentment, not everything was perfect but there was a familiarity and pattern to life and work, I knew what to expect and how to navigate the challenges. There was a niggling thought that I ought to be developing my digital/online training skills to meet the needs of a changing workforce but possibly I was on the ‘sun deck’ with a glass of Aperol Spritz?

Returning from annual leave there were reports of a virus that had spread from China and was now taking hold in Europe particularly in Italy and Spain. At this point the virus was happening to other people in other places, I couldn’t see how it would affect me and my work. Yes, I did buy some hand sanitiser, but I was in the Room of Denial.

Then lockdown happened – stay at home, work from home, children who had left home returned to the nest, Leadership Development delivery cancelled and no food in the supermarket. There was no longer denying that life had changed as a result of Coronavirus. Around me friends, colleagues, family and clients all became faces on a screen as we tried to maintain contact, while getting to grips with One Drive and Microsoft Teams.

The confusion grew around business as usual, when clearly it was anything but usual. I scurried to the bunker to wait out the confusion, burying myself in projects and tasks. Refreshing training materials, cleaning out cupboards and cataloguing family photos onto the cloud.

Back in the Room of Confusion at team meetings – ‘What platform should we be using?’ was a plaintive cry from colleagues getting to grips with moving their teaching online. Bombarded with funny videos and offers of free resources, there were no common terms of reference and misunderstanding about what online training was...did we even need a platform?

Slowly, routines started to emerge, You Tube yoga sessions, a daily email from the Vice Chancellor and some clarity about which tools to deliver our training. Yes, in meetings we still forget to unmute before speaking but we have a common language and work collaboratively to develop new products instead of a sticky plaster version of our existing portfolio.

Sitting here now on Monday the first of June, I think I am on the threshold of the Room of Renewal. I have new vocabulary and talk with some confidence about adaptive pathways and hybrid learning. The view from the doorway is a little scary and there are more challenges, but it might just be alright.

If you and/or your business would like support as you navigate the House of Change, we are offering Business Resilience webinars and coaching free to eligible businesses as well as online learning programmes for Managers and Leaders at all levels.  Contact the Leadership Centre for further details

House of change diagram

After Claes F Jansson

Premise

When confronted by change people start from a position of relative comfort. They are familiar with their tasks, trained and confident. Some people are so comfortable as to be effectively on the sun deck, no stretch (or development) and no intention of moving. It is peaceful.

When change is threatened it upsets this contentment and throws people into denial. The room of denial is a place where subconscious resistance tends to start (it’s not going to happen to me). Some people unable to confront or cope with the thought of change look to escape and leave the organisation. Others fall through the trap door and end up in the basement in the ‘dungeon of denial’ a place where escape seems not possible. People need help to get them out of this place by providing a clear and optimistic vision of the future.

From the denial stage people traverse to the room of confusion. There is no vision of the future and no foreseeable way out. Worse they can descend into the paralysis pit where like rabbits in the headlights they await their fate without being able to contribute towards their ‘renewal’. A step ladder of support will be required to move any people out of the pit. This trap door should be sealed as soon as possible. Productivity falls there is a lack of motivation, morale is at rock bottom. Management will find small changes resisted or questioned and there is a general lack of cooperation. Apathy and lethargy abounds, so do conflicts. Some people move into the bunker by not finishing or delaying projects unwilling or unable to move on.

The room of renewal as the name suggests is a destination, not a final destination but a stop on a career journey which is also a new starting point. Ideally staff should always be in the room of renewal, open to change and new ideas. Flexible and creative and taking control of their own development (and destiny) they will be the agents of future change.      

For more information about how the Leadership Centre can help your business visit their website

Lorraine Goodhand

Leadership Development Consultant / Leeds Business School

Lorraine is a skilled facilitator specialising in leadership and management development. She works with organisations to increase their leadership capacity and achieve organisational goals. Lorraine's workshops allow individuals to learn new skills and gain the confidence to use them.