As professionals start to return to the office after a prolonged period of working from home, there is a new curiosity about the meaning we ascribe to our work and how this fits into our revised frame of the world. Some interesting patterns are emerging, and we consider what they mean for sustained personal growth
A Gestalt approach is very useful to organisation development consultants. Our role is to be awareness agents of what is transpiring around us. The Gestalt orientation focuses on informing our clients on how to improve and take action for better results in their human interactions. Being in ‘awareness’ requires invoking the senses – hearing, seeing, smelling and feeling. These stimuli provide us with data and energy to lead to action and learning. ‘The Gestalt cycle of experience summarises the process by which people, individually or collectively, become aware of what is going on at any moment, and how they mobilise energy to take some action that allows them to deal constructively, by possibilities suggested by the new awareness. This process is sometimes referred to as that of finding out what is needed and going about getting it’ (Edwin C Nevis, Organizational Consulting: A Gestalt Approach).
The pattern of caution
People are re-entering the workplace with trepidation, as if it is the first day of school. Not much has changed physically in the buildings, but the way we approach and collaborate with other humans has shifted. Some people are wholeheartedly embracing these changes, and others are clinical in their approach. We also have everything in between and significant polarisations too. Let’s be sensitive to individual preferences and walk together.
The pattern of human connection
The visceral energy of connection is a beautiful sight. This missing piece from our lives in the pandemic binds and propels us as humans in our purpose at work and our relationships. Reconnect with abandon and notice your energy and how it buoys your work, delivery and growth mindset. Something magical is happening in this realm.
The pattern of inflexibility
People have become stuck in their pandemic ways and very focused on themselves and not on our collective. Not surprisingly, it’s been a solitary time. Unlearn certain pandemic rituals and learn new ways of working as we navigate a hybrid work world. Inclusivity, regardless of physical presence, has new meaning and elevated challenges.
A great teacher, colleague and friend once explained behavioural patterns to me in simple terms: ‘When you notice something for the first time, take note. When you see something for the second time repeated, pay attention. When you see the same thing for the third time, it’s a pattern’ (Mary Ann Rainey). We need to make meaning of the behavioural patterns we see and mobilise the required responses.
What are you noticing in the workplace and how are you attending to the emergence?
Some leadership hacks to support people and navigate these unique times:
- Encourage a phased, orderly return to work. Don’t mandate, allow people the flexibility to choose.
- Encourage experimentation on new ways of working, reflect and recalibrate often to optimise. Beware of change fatigue too.
- Move from a crisis mode approach to resetting workplace boundaries and ‘normalising’ our new reality.
- Encourage mental, physical and emotional wellness, as well as personal time off (specifically leave) while we have a window for travel in a low-COVID environment.
- Emphasise and model a strong dose of humanity and compassion as we navigate our new work world.