After more than a year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to a post-Covid world can be a daunting prospect even if you’re also excited about regaining a sense of normalcy. As a business owner, maybe you’re already anticipating the changes in business that you have to implement in order to thrive as Australia starts to open up more.
In line with that anticipation, it’s not surprising if you’re also worried about how your team may react to the areas you want to change in business. After all, they also need to cope with living in a post-Covid world; what if introducing changes in business just adds to their anxiety about work? Maybe they’ve grown to love working from home, so they may resist the changes you want to implement and react negatively to them.
Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 has redefined how small businesses work in Australia. If there’s one thing this situation has proven, it’s that change is inevitable and your business either adapts or dies. Without change, you’re standing still, and since your competitors keep moving forward, your frozen state is actually a backward slide.
By overcoming your own anxieties about returning to work and supporting your team in doing the same, you can be better positioned to show them how change can equal opportunities for growth, not just for the company, but also for each staff member’s professional and personal development. Once your team understands this, it’s easier for them to buy into your new business processes and help drive your business forward.
Maybe your staff have settled into a work from home set up and they’re worried about sudden outbreaks if they have to return to the office. Or maybe they’ve established new routines in the past year that they don’t want to break as you transition into the new normal.
Whatever you or your staff may be feeling, there are three ways you can ease fears and anxiety about work. Doing this will help your team adjust as you start implementing changes in business now, as well as later on.
Keeping negative emotions to yourself and thinking you’re the only one who feels that way can make it seem insurmountable and worsen the feeling. We all have different ways of processing emotions so it’s important to remind yourself that your fears and anxieties are normal and that there are no “right” or “wrong” feelings.
We’re all learning how to adjust to a post-Covid world as we go, so even if we respond differently to the current situation it’s still a collective experience we’re going through together and it helps to be supportive of each other.
Be compassionate to yourself and your team members. While it’s important to consistently provide constructive feedback in helping them grow, you also need to be sensitive to what your staff are feeling and going through. Berating them for not being 100% productive can make them feel increased guilt and anxiety about failing to adjust to a post-Covid workplace. By creating a safe and supportive environment, your staff members can open up to you and each other, easing the worries they may have.
Normalising your feelings doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to accept and embrace extreme thoughts. It’s important to reframe your thoughts and separate reality from imagined fears.
This may not always work when you’re anxious or sad about proven facts rather than something you just thought up. In this case, it can help to shift your focus to a more positive and uplifting aspect of the situation.
If your team is worried about going back to the office, think of ways that will encourage them to feel excited about it. You can create opportunities for them to catch up with fellow staff members they’re excited to see, or talk about routines all of you are eager to reestablish, like getting a cup of coffee at your favourite coffee shops or grabbing lunch together at local restaurants to reacquaint everyone and reform that feeling of a close team.
Living with the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, it’s natural if you and your team have developed new habits and routines in order to adjust to the situation. This can contribute to why there might be some feelings of uneasiness about the “new normal”, especially since we’ve become used to living in a state of confusion and worry.
Breaking habits that no longer serve their purpose in a post-Covid world and reestablishing old behaviours that are more helpful can be overwhelming. Take small steps in reintroducing yourself and your team to new or even existing work models until you’re all more comfortable with fully going back to the workplace.
Implementing an onslaught of changes in business without warning can overwhelm your staff and make them more reluctant to join in. Following a clear guide that builds your staff’s confidence about the change in business will allow you to get buy-in from them.
It’s important to have a clear vision for where your business will be in the near future as well as a plan of action for how you will make that vision a reality. Implementing change because other competitors are doing so or because it’s a trend might not be helpful if it’s not anchored into how your own business operates or what your overall goals and values are.
Once you have your vision and plan of action for a post-Covid business, discuss them with the rest of the team. They’re more likely to accept and understand it if you’re transparent and honest about the entire process rather than keeping it from them until the last minute. Explaining how the changes will benefit the organisation as well as their individual and professional development ensures that they’re personally invested and interested in how the business will change for the better.
Your staff are more likely to be excited about the changes in business if they can contribute in a way that plays to their strengths. Knowing which responsibilities to assign to them is important because your team will be more motivated to achieve their tasks when you set them up for success.
Delegating tasks is especially important during this period when the entire business will undergo major changes. By involving your staff in the process and matching their roles to their skill sets and preferences, the overall morale and productivity of the team increases.
Holding regular check-ins with your staff helps you ensure that each member understands the changes to be implemented and why they’re beneficial to the business. Checking in also helps you see if your team is still engaged or if they need more support in some way.
Having open conversations with your staff prevents miscommunications and misunderstandings, which can happen if they feel uncertain and uninformed about all the changes in the business. By showing them empathy and giving the effort to find solutions to the challenges they’re facing, your team will feel valued and more motivated to help the business grow.
It’s during check-ins that you’re more likely to identify arising issues or challenges within the team. Once this happens, make sure to resolve them quickly as small problems have a tendency to grow bigger when left unaddressed.
If the problem lies with an unhappy employee, talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Having this confrontation can be difficult but it’s important to find a solution or compromise, especially since one unhappy employee can negatively impact the rest of the team if left unchecked. The discussion may even help you identify underlying issues with the changes you want to implement, allowing you to further improve your plan of action.
Don’t be too rigid about what you plan on paper. The changes in business might work differently in reality from what you’d envisioned, so it’s important to be flexible as you continue adjusting to this post-Covid world.
This doesn’t mean that you need to take the “wait-and-see” approach. By monitoring the progress of the changes in your business, you can develop contingency plans and alternative solutions in case of unexpected situations or stumbling blocks.
It will also help if you’re supported by a community of like-minded business owners who are on the same journey in driving changes. They will understand what you’re going through, helping you learn how to overcome challenges and build long-lasting professional relationships.
If you get stuck at all or don’t know how to start, especially around creating a powerful future vision for your business, look to get support and guidance from an experienced business coach who can offer insights and suggestions to help you adjust to a post-Covid world and making sure that the changes are being implemented as smoothly as possible.
By taking the time to ease the worries your staff may have about the post-Covid world and showing them that you still prioritise their individual development, it’s much easier to gain their buy-in as you implement changes that will help your business thrive in this new normal.
If you are ready to implement changes in your business for continuous evolution and growth, join a supportive network guided by a business sherpa at The Business Evolution. Together we can help adapt to a post-Covid world and thrive in business.
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