By Melissa Davies, Wise Ways Consulting
The season of change has started. Bus drivers are practicing their routes, and Potomac Mills is humming with back-to-school shoppers. Public school starts Aug. 22, and our area college students will soon be heading to points far and wide.
As a community, we’re excited for this throwback to “normal.” Yet it’s not really normal. Last year was a huge transition as students, teachers, and support staff (that means you too, parents) returned to a school from a virtual year.
The transition was bumpy and one of the biggest setbacks is what Prince William County Schools calls unfinished learning. In short, the virtual environment wasn’t the same as in-person instruction.
COVID is now endemic in our community. This is a new change, and one where we need to adapt our behaviors and expectations. Chances are high that as our community begins to mix, the latest COVID variant will ramp up and take hold.
Lead the Change in Your Life
We can handle these ups and downs by leading the changes in our lives. You can find countless resources on change management and leading organizational change. But it comes down to three big concepts.
- What is the change? For this one, it’s happening to us and impossible to avoid. Telework, illnesses (COVID and others), inflation, new jobs, new schools. These macro changes cause us to examine our behaviors. What days will we commute to an office? How will we manage an illness, ours, or someone else’s? Do we need to adjust our savings and spending? Do we need to adjust our waking and sleeping hours?
- How will you lead the change? Will you embrace or accept the change as inevitable? Will you fight the change and refuse to modify your behaviors? Will you go with the flow and monitor what others do? Will you actively push for new behaviors and habits?
- How will you manage the change? Once you determine your leadership type, such as adaptive, proponent, or avoider, how will you manage your desired outcome? Will you ally yourself with like-minded people? Will you be the vocal one rallying your family and friends? Will you investigate options and data to see what is best for you?
A Blueprint for Change
In response to unfinished learning, and students falling behind, Prince William County Schools has developed a multi-year plan. This comprehensive document could serve as a blueprint for a multitude of industries and even a self-awareness and growth manual.
Five of its objectives are to develop students to have the following skills:
- Critical thinking
- Digital citizenship
- Innovative and visionary thoughts and leadership skills
- Global collaboration skills
Additionally, the school system proposes to support these learning initiatives with professional development and student tutoring.
We could all benefit from seeking these five skills as well as additional job training, coaching, and mentorship. These are the skills and actions we need to take to lead the change in our lives. Gratefully, our schools recognize this, as change is the only constant. And if the last couple of years are the indicator, the next few years will continue to be anything but normal.
What changes are you feeling? What is your emotional response? How are you prepared to act and thrive? Not all changes need multi-modal management plans. But all change should be managed to work in your life, not control it.
Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work. She resides in Prince William County and is the owner of Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through wisewaysconsulting.com.