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Returning To Normal Is Highly Overrated. Here’s Why

“I’m so glad things will be returning to normal.”

How many times have you heard that lately?!

It’s common for people to say it after a severe illness…or after a mother has given birth.

But we’re hearing it more and more often now in the business world, and my question to all of them is, “Why would you want things to go back to normal?”

What, in anyone’s mindset, leads them to believe that things could return to normal or that “normal” can somehow be sustained?

This is more relevant in today’s pandemic world.

Why are we seeking “normal”?

Returning to normal…but whose normal?

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on a global scale.

It’s upended economies, changed the way we do business. Worse yet, it has cost lives and caused human suffering.

With so many businesses talking about the upside to reopening – kick-starting the economy – it’s imperative that we address and resolve the changes and losses that have been lived during this pandemic.

We need to be mindful of the very personal, human factor.

Imagine…

  • Some people weren’t able to provide support to loved ones who were shut in their homes.
  • Some lost their jobs while others enjoyed a surge because of their industry.
  • Some people feared what might happen to them or their loved ones, while others treated the pandemic like it was no big deal.
  • Some people’s families provided health care for others while not able to live with their own families.

Now, we’re going to put all these people back into a standard work environment and assume that they’re going to pick up where they left off…return to the old normal?

Every single employee is coming back to work having completely different memories of the past 14 months. Will it be “normal”? Probably not.

Supporting a return to normal that embraces the abnormal

A computer works perfectly until someone lacking awareness tries to use it.

Emergency preparedness plans work until it’s tested by the human factor…and then the plans often break down.

In fact, I’d be willing to suggest that everything works perfectly…until we actually use it. Faith, technology, machinery…

As Robert Frost says in his poem, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

With that in mind, you have to be deliberate and thoughtful in your plans as all the individuals – who travelled very different roads during the pandemic – return to work.

What are you doing to support your staff as they return? Are you trying to take them back to the old “normal”, or are you willing to explore a new normal that allows for every person’s unique experiences?

Your company needs a new normal plan

It’s natural for a business to be keen for a return to their 10-year strategic plan, to start chasing sales quotas, growth, marketing initiatives that were in the works before life was put on hold.

But you can’t just pick up the company’s operations manual or the strategic plan and assume that everyone will be right back on board.

Setting aside mental health issues that warrant care from a professional, think about your team as a group of normal people having normal reactions to abnormal events. Staff meetings might be awkward, responses to common questions might be extreme or non-existent.

What are you doing to support them?

This is an opportunity for leaders to guide and support their managers and staff, ensuring a growth mindset to this new normal.

As leaders, you have an opportunity to guide the journey towards the new normal…making it happen rather than watching it happen.

This is uncharted territory for all of us. You’ll have to remain adaptable, willing to change course…but it’s imperative that you are at the helm.

There go my people…

Many of us are familiar with the famous quote from Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin,

There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.

It’s symbolic of a lack of leadership, an unwillingness to invest the time to find out what is motivating, frightening, or enlightening the people you should lead.

Would you like help to create a plan for defining a new normal – not the old normal, but one that acknowledges the changes your team has been through over the past year? One that is refinable as growth is happening?

I can provide you with guidance so that you can guide your team through these uncertain times.

Contact me, and we’ll start a conversation.

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

What Is A Crisis? It’s In The Eye Of The Beholder
Normalizing Mental Health Requires Normalizing Emotions
The Importance of Communication In Business And Why It Requires Transparency