From a period of crisis and change, there are likely things you will want to retain in your culture, workforce or in the new way of working, and there will also be lessons you want to learn from and not repeat again – gifts and lessons.
Throughout many years of coaching leaders, the exercise I am about to share with you is the single most powerful activity I’ve used in helping leaders and teams to move beyond crisis, upheaval and traumatic experiences.
Get the Timing Right
You’ll know when the right time is to go ahead with this exercise, and that’s usually when teams are beginning to move into acceptance and thinking about operating in the ‘new normal’.
It’s possible that at the time of receiving this resource, you might still be in crisis. If that’s the case, keep this tool in your back pocket for when you’re ready to move forward.
Set the Scene
For this exercise to be effective, it is important to establish with your team that this is a safe space for sharing and you are all there to support each other and learn together.
Transparency and honesty from everyone in the process is vital.
4 Steps to Extracting Lessons and Gifts
The following activity guides you through four simple steps to turning a crisis into a catalyst for positive change.
Step 1 – Set the Timeline
Draw a timeline on a flipchart or whiteboard. Determine with your team when the crisis began and set a timeline from then until the present.
Step 2 – Plot Major Events
Ask the team to plot on the timeline the major events that impacted them throughout the crisis or traumatic event. These might be events such as the closing of an office, the way bad news was communicated internally, a change in government policy. We have used COVID-19 as an example below.
It is important to remind your team that this is a safe space and all contributions are valid. Acknowledge that what may not have been difficult for one person, may have been very difficult for another.
Complete the timeline of events from start to finish.
Step 3 – Assign Gifts & Lessons
For each event, ask two questions:
- What might be the gifts in this experience? What do we now know about ourselves, others, our capabilities, resilience and hidden strengths that we didn’t know before?
- What are the lessons we can learn and apply in the future? What are the decisions that we wouldn’t make again, if we had another chance? What didn’t go well that we can learn from?
Record the team’s responses for each question against the relevant event on the timeline.
Step 4 – Create an Action Plan
Now that the team has identified the lessons and gifts, it is time to identify the actions that need to be taken to ensure the gifts are retained and lessons aren’t repeated.
Record the actions that need to be taken against each lesson and gift and assign them to team members or other internal and external stakeholders for implementation.
Download the Extracting Gifts and Lessons Worksheet and watch the video below to guide your team through this exercise.