Where Are You Going Now?

The Pandemic Caused A Seismic Shift In Our World And Our Dreams.

By Steve Schumacher

Everyone has heard over and over about the tremendous suffering everyone in the world has experienced because of the pandemic. Nearly every aspect of our existence was impacted in some way. As we move into a world that is approaching normality, many people are asking themselves what they want from home life and work life after such a disruptive year. After so much change for an extended period, it is natural that we look to future to check our dreams and aspirations.

Since everyone’s home lives are personal and individual, it is not reasonable for me to talk about new choices in that arena. My only piece of advice is to do the things that will make you honestly smile when you look in the mirror each day.

Work choices, on the other hand, are more open to general advice. Those choices are certainly personal and individual, but in a work environment the choices are more narrow and clear cut. During the pandemic, many of those choices were out of our control and made for us. Now that we are pulling out of those times, more choices are coming back to us individually. Some of those choices and options you face are:

Stay with the same company. Every company has good times and bad times. What differentiates companies is their ability to manage change and bounce back strong from the down times. Chances are your company experienced down times during the pandemic. Did the leaders of the company work hard to keep from laying off people? 

Did they truly live up to a “people first” philosophy? Was employee safety a main concern over production and profit? What are the odds the leaders will bring the company back to its previous status? These are all questions for you to consider as you look to your future employment and whether or not it is important to you that a company’s leadership manages the down times well.

Move into management. If you are an individual contributor who had plans to become a manager, how did the pandemic affect your desire to do that? No doubt you saw the managers in your company become very stressed during the pandemic. Normal production and quality considerations became secondary to the safety of employees and keeping the business afloat. 

Now that you have a sense of the extreme stresses that can happen to managers, do you see that as something you want to experience? Perhaps you feel like experiencing extreme stress and tough decision making would be a good challenge for you and would make you a better manager. Being able to accept the unknown, communicate credibly to employees, and maintain trust and motivation may or may not be something you want to step into.

Stay in management. No matter how long you have been a manager, you have certainly experienced uncertainty and doubted yourself. The pandemic brought those feelings to the forefront for many leaders in all industries for an extended period of time. Did the stress of trying to lead people in uncertain and unsafe times cause you more anxiety than you can handle? 

Did you feel the support you needed from upper management during the pandemic crisis? In extreme cases like this, it is critical that leaders put forth an air of confidence and reassurance. How did you do with that? If employees do not feel that you were in control of yourself and your business, it will be hard to regain that faith when things get better.

Push for more remote work. Most companies experienced higher productivity during the pandemic. It seems like the days of “if I can’t see them, I can’t manage them” days are gone. In addition, many employees learned to appreciate the autonomy of working from home and being closer to their families more frequently. 

Yes, there was, and will continue to be, virtual burnout and zoom fatigue. However, the tradeoff seems to be in favor of at least hybrid work situations. If this is something you found worked for you, now is probably a good time to be assertive about your wishes. For many, a transition back into a day-to-day in-person working situation is now unwelcome. 

Commit to a healthier lifestyle. We all heard about the COVID 15 – people gaining weight being at home more. Snacking and overeating were unfortunately one of the outcomes of more people working remotely. This may be an opportunity for you to finally commit to a healthier lifestyle.

We all know that life is essentially a series of choices. After the upheaval of the pandemic, you have a choice to take what you learned during those stressful times and apply them to your life to make it ever more happy and abundant.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at [email protected]

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