Leadership in Action – What Is Your Team’s PTG?

yellow and black caterpillar on brown rocky ground

We have all heard about PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – and the impact this has on individuals for months, or even years, after the distressful event. There are two other possible outcomes. Some individuals deal with the event in the moment and have little or no lasting change to their lives. The third type of reaction to trauma, or dealing with adversity, is PTG – Post-Traumatic Growth.

As we are nearing a Post-Covid reality, identifying where we have grown is an important process. It helps our teams to celebrate our resilience and adaptability. Then, we can carry that experience and strength forward when dealing with future challenges. [Please note: There are many people and organizations that have suffered greatly during the past year. This article in no way minimizes their pain and suffering.]

As we approach this Post-Covid reality, there are two competing perspectives: “Nothing will be the same!” and “Can’t wait to go back to the way it was!” The future will be a mix of both. Helping your team navigate through the next few months, as this reality settles in (as much as any reality can settle), is an important way to connect the dots and create certainty for the future of your team and the organization.

Begin by celebrating the ways in which your team successfully adapted, in the past year, to meet the challenges that you faced. Categorize these adaptations into two broad categories: new ways of work that were already in our future, but we just got there faster; and things we ended up doing that we never would have considered in 2019. In celebrating these, be specific as to how each impacted us individually, as a team and as an organization.

From these two lists, ask a couple of questions. What new ways of work are we going to stay with in the Post-Covid reality? How do these new approaches make us stronger individually, as a team and as an organization? This is where we experience Post-Traumatic Growth. Celebrate that growth, not from a comparison to other teams or organizations, but to the grit and resilience shown in confronting and growing through adversity.

To keep a celebration strong, we want to pause the conversation for a few days to allow all of it to sink in. Then, set up a second meeting to establish how can we take those experiences and create everyday growth and innovation. Start by recognizing that each of these adaptations are innovations, and that the situation caused us to challenge our strongly held assumptions about how things have to be. Create space for challenging current assumptions to achieve better results as a normal part of our decision process.

This activity of reflection and celebration will help to Connect the Dots, put an end point to the Covid response, and create a springboard to leverage the strengths that your team has developed over the past year.