Change Is a Team Sport, but Playing It Virtually Is a Different Ball Game Altogether

As a military child, I used to think that I was very comfortable with change and that I dealt with it way better than a lot of other people. I thought I had it all figured out since I was conditioned at an early age to deal with change my whole time growing up.  A not-so-fun-fact: we moved so much that I attended 10 different schools from grades K-12, 10! But since COVID began, I have realized there are certain kinds of change that do not come so easily to me – specifically change that impacts my space, specifically my place of calm and zen. 

Dealing With Change

A recent change that came from COVID was my 10-year-old’s new interest in baking. He would beg me to let him try different recipes and as much as I wanted to encourage his newfound hobby, I was hesitant because this change would mean he would be using different things around the kitchen – and that would mean a lot more mess for me to clean up. We had baked together before, but I am very possessive about my kitchen and obsessed with keeping things organized. My kitchen is my Zen place! Knowing my son would be moving things, mixing things, spilling things, terrified me. And in a time when everything we do is at home, I was even more sensitive to having a new baker in the house.

Our Reaction to Change

Unlike Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction, small changes can elicit an exponentially larger response in people, while large changes can cause them to hardly respond at all. In my story, it was this small change, but I was showing big reactions. We can’t stop change, but we can control how we respond to it and that’s important! For most of us, 2020 hasn’t gone as we had planned. We’ve seen a big shift in our personal lives and have been called on to adapt quickly to change, all the while continuing to deliver on our work commitments. While working from home was straightforward for some – for many of us, it posed new challenges. Lines between work and home became blurred; we’ve had kids and family to take care of, home school, shared home workspaces with family or roommates, and more.

How We Deal With Change

People are different and need to address change differently. If you’re the type of person who prefers to rip the band-aid off in one quick pull, then maybe you address change by making a single cutover and deal with all the pain of change right up front and get it over with. Or maybe you need to address change more slowly – carving it off in little chunks and dealing with each micro-change before going back for another little piece. 

Neither is inherently right or wrong or better than the other. It depends on you. The important thing is that you simply take that first step – that you’ve stopped being resistant – and move in the new direction. In my case, I chose to rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with…well almost. I actually prepared a plan on which appliances in the kitchen he can use without supervision and when he will get my help. We also made a baking day plan, depending on our schedules (his school and my work). Additionally, he has instructions to clean up between steps and has an allocated area to work.

How We Pivoted During Change

Despite the unpredictability due to the pandemic, we must continue to prioritize ourselves and stop neglecting our personal development. At NextRoll, we focused on building skills for remote collaboration, mindfulness sessions, and prioritized career development. Research shows that developing certain skills help us stay viable in the “future of work” (which started yesterday). Now, more than ever, we need to consider being continuous learners to bolster our “future selves”. The capabilities we bring to the table – our skills, knowledge, and experiences – are what make us successful today and tomorrow. But, if our vision of the future will change unexpectedly, how do we keep our talents fresh?

Here are some ways we are supporting change at NextRoll:  

  •  At NextRoll, we believe that all Rollers contribute to NextRoll’s success with their unique skills, experiences, and strengths.

  • Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, Rollers are empowered to find their own path and create a development roadmap that fits best their needs within the focus of the organization.

  • NextRoll Managers support Roller’s development by finding meaningful development opportunities that align with Roller’s individual aspirations and our organizational strategy.

  • We encourage Rollers to take advantage of new virtual trainings that are available through Live virtual sessions or choose self-paced learning via LinkedIn learning. At this time we have a deeper focus on Leading with Empathy, Agility, Resilience, Stress Management, etc. 

We built successful learning experiences through different design, delivery models as well as meaningful metrics to suit the learning needs of our employees in this new work environment. Learning solutions needed to be intentional, agile, and help employees gain the skills they need now. Rollers found it easier to attend a Lunch and Learn vs a half-day training, through fireside chats we could ask relevant questions and get immediate solutions to remote working challenges, and through the use of Linkedin, Learning Rollers can choose both what and when they want to learn. In my story, I learned to let go a little bit and use this baking time as a bonding activity with my son. We looked at different recipes together, made a bit of a mess together and I taught him things I learned from my experiences.

NextRoll culture has a very strong foundation through our values, I see Rollers living by these values every day in everything they do. You will hear Roller referring to our Culture Creatures at work. When change happens suddenly having a foundation that has a fundamental reference point allows for making quick decisions and allows us to pivot faster to new ways of working. We hold these values dearly and will continue to do so.

Change Isn’t So Bad Afterall

Change isn’t always bad. In fact, I’d say that the majority of the time, change is good. In a world of very rapid changes and to be competitive in the long run, NextRoll employees learned to be agile, foster resilience, and support each other through changes to be successful. We are hyper-focused on creating meaningful experiences and connections at NextRoll. Managers are doing regular check-ins, Rollers are leading with empathy and giving each other space. Our leaders are championing learning and development by delivering “Leadership” and “Storytelling” workshops.

When we could not meet for team happy hours in person, we pivoted to more online engagement with new ideas — our RollWorks BU introduced healthy Selfie Friday (posting selfies of Rollers engaging in healthy activities on Fridays for prizes!), socialization continued through virtual happy hours, we’ve had team cook-offs, and engaged in virtual giving back programs (e.g., online mentorship). Our families got a taste of what it means to work for NextRoll (pun intended!) when the Museum of Ice Cream taught employees and their families how to make ice cream at home, and with a virtual bakeoff.

How You Can Deal with Change

The first place to start is to be utterly and completely self-aware of what one is going through – mentally and emotionally – in times of change and to understand how to build resilience and emotional agility. Going through changes requires you to know yourself, to be at your personal best, and know-how to recharge so that you can best support your employees going through the different stages of change.

 Once-in-a-lifetime events have shown that the world can and will change whether you’re ready or not (remember those inspirational quotes?). To be honest there are happy outcomes of change — just look at these beautiful macarons that my son and I baked together!