Welcome to the new normal. A few months ago, masks and sanitisers were things on the back shelves of chemist stores, today they are everywhere. COVID-19 has changed our way of life. The important question here is “Have we changed as well?”
“COVID-19 has changed our way of life. The important question here is “Have we changed as well?”
Quoting wikipedia – “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)[note 1] is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, child abuse, or other threats on a person’s life. Symptoms may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight-or-flight response.”
“PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – what about Continuous Trauma Stress Disorder (C.T.S.D.)?”
Make no mistake, mankind is under stress. We all are under stresses that we have never before experienced nor thought about. CTSD or Continuous Trauma Stress Disorder is a term I have coined for the current situation we are in. We are in close contact with death. Each day, statistics are flashed, not once or twice, but almost continuously. While we may avert our eyes, our subconscious mind sees all, registers all and in its own way, alters our beliefs, thoughts, actions and behaviours.
“We are in close contact with death. Each day, statistics are flashed almost continuously.”
Even in the bloodiest of wars, we, the common persons of the planet were never in direct danger. Even when terrorists struck closer home, we always felt we would be safe. Today, we are under attack – each one of us is under attack by an unseen, undetectable and silent enemy – and that is scary. Yet, we live under this continuous threat, hearing of others who were not as lucky as us, the sounds of an ambulance brings a foreboding and a feeling of helplessness. Yes, this is the new normal.
The Way Ahead……
What is the way ahead? What are the threats to the workplace and how can we mitigate these threats? What are the effects of these threats to our way of working?
The first casualty of CTSD is TRUST!
The first casualty of CTSD is TRUST. The trust we built up, over time, bonds forged and firmed with a handshake or a hug…..have now been replaced by an ‘elbow shake’ or a fist bump, accompanied with a weak smile, sharply inconsistent with the instant energy bursts that happened earlier. The unique camaraderie of the ‘smokers’ at the smoking zone, who earlier shared a ‘smoke’ has been replaced by ‘hope he doesn’t ask for a puff’. The friendly ‘lean over on a chair is gone.’ So is borrowing of a pencil or a highlighter. Workplace ‘neo’ will be different, it may be compartmentalised, impersonal, uninspiring and possibly tech driven. This trust deficit is further fuelled by the fact that employees are now handling confidential data at home. Supervisors are at their wits’ end, trying to understand how to cope.
The second casualty of of CTSD is FAITH!
In the past, one left home, with the relative confidence that unless one got run over by a lunatic, the chances of returning home were quite bright. Today, the ubiquitous “see ya”, or “catch you later” is no longer a guarantee. It has been replaced by ‘take Care’ – ‘All the best’, ‘be safe’, etc. The second casualty of of CTSD is FAITH. We no longer have faith on many things that we had earlier.
Teamwork has been redefined, at least for the immediate future!
In the past, Teamwork was the buzz word. Indeed, we all felt that we have a support system of friends, family and maybe infrastructure that formed past of our safety net. Today, there are many of us who have lost near and dear ones and have not even been able to see their faces before their last rites. Not being able to support our families at such times has also led to drop in our confidence and ability to be of material use to our fellow man. The Work From Home (WFH) culture that has been imposed on many, has further widened this chasm. Family, that till hitherto-fore, was a secure and warm place, has now turned into an impediment as employees struggle to balance calls, login times with tending to household chores, looking after aged parents and dealing with the tantrums of a child while juggling calls and office work. Yes, Teamwork has been redefined, at least for the immediate future.
Darwin was right – it is the survival of the fittest now!
As humans entered the age of the microchip ushered in by the Nobel Prize winning invention of the transistor by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley, we began thinking that the smartest of the species would eventually survive. This has since been redefined by reverting to Darwin’s adage of survival of the fittest. The workplace too has to evolve. The smartest may not be around this time. Start looking for the fittest and the smartest! And yes, the fittest may not always be the smartest – live with it.
As a corporate trainer, I have had more than my fair share of ‘building trust’, ‘teamwork’ etc. Today, with my experiences in combat, corporate training and as a coach, I have condensed the challenges that leadership faces onto this very simple mind map. Click here to download https://ajayramakrishnan.com/download/identifying-leadership-challenges/
The leader of today has unprecedented and undocumented challenges to work on. To be able to tackle this, leaders will have to work from a space of extremely high self confidence, exemplary belief systems, exceptional communication skills, deep rooted understanding of the situation, high levels of emotional quotient and God like levels of compassion (click here to download the AmbitionMantra Guide to EQ https://ajayramakrishnan.com/download/the-ambition-mantra-eq-guide/
Dear Leader….here is your action plan!
- PEN PICTURES: For starters, make a list of your team. For each name, try to pen down your picture of the person. What is he or she like? What are the emotional matrices you can visualise? Is he or she sensitive? Is he or she burdened with family responsibilities and pressures? How do you feel he /she reacts or responds to pressures? Do you have any Information about any tragedies or COVID-19 related incidents in their family?
- TRIGGERS AND POSSIBLE LEADERSHIP RESPONSES: As a leader, you have to function with this team in the new normal. What are the issues that you feel may emerge? What are the possible ways for you to respond? Are there any issues you can foresee or predict and take pre-emptive actions?
- BUDDY PAIRS – A FAILSAFE REDUNDANCY: There will be ups and downs. There will be process interferences. How can you possibly pair up or create a ‘buddy’ system for your team that will increase workflow and create harmony?
- EMOTIONAL & BEHAVIOURAL RESPONSES: War game possible emotions and behaviours you may have to experience with your team. Run over your responses and the best ways of responding. Also factor in the individual behaviours and responses you would be dealing with.
- LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES: Download the AmbitionMantra Leadership Challenges Mind Map. Rate yourself on all the aspects, even if they seem irrelevant or insignificant.
- COMPARATIVE MATRIX: In light of the learnings done earlier, seek to enhance yourself in terms of being able to resolve leadership challenges.
- EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT: This is one major aspect that needs a special focus. The future leader will have no option but to lead from a place of extremely high EQ. Dear readers, do feel free to download the AmbitionMantra EQ Guide (Click here). This guide is self explanatory and will provide a basic framework for your future use.
We may get back to our offices or partial offices or virtually partial offices very soon or soon or maybe sometime! However, we still need to get the job done. As leaders we need to be alive to the prevailing situation. We first need to condition ourselves, starting NOW – only then may we facilitate the transition process subsequently. I wish you luck on your journey. Feel free to connect for any insights, spoon-bending discussions and idea-bounce sessions. My email is email@example.com