You can’t unfry an egg

After months of never ending rhetoric, the Brexit decision flashed on our screens last week. We are now a country in transition with people on either side of the debate in different emotional states of mind. We, at Blacklight, have had many years of experience working with groups in crises: families, organisations and even countries. Our experience has taught us that at times like this it is natural for people to react with bewilderment, anger, fear and helplessness.

Some organisations are on the front foot and have already sent out reassuring messages of support and commitment to their staff. For this to have maximum impact it needs to be coupled with giving people an opportunity to ventilate their feelings about what has been lost. We cannot change what has happened, in as much as we cannot un-fry an egg; all we can do is to deal with peoples’ reactions to the event. It is only by doing this that people can move on to envision a new future and decide what to do next.

Borrowing from the notion of individual hardiness, we feel that organisations can also be hardy. This means taking control of the events and things that we can change, committing fully to the task of transition and recognising the opportunities that come from crisis.

Putting a transition plan in place will help support your staff over the next few years. Key elements to consider as you do this are:

What is it?

What can you do?

Over-communicate: keep telling people about what your organisation’s position is on the current situation. Clearly define a change communication strategy. This will reduce the anxiety and paralysis that come from ongoing uncertainty.
Listen to your people: Let them talk about and express their feelings however negative. Design a series of facilitated workshops where people can share and normalise their experience.
Be present: In times like this, people need leaders to be visible and engaged. Equip your leaders with the capability and tools to engage   in difficult yet supportive discussions.
Give direction: People need to know what they can do to manage the transition and construct a positive future. Create a strategic roadmap with clear accountabilities and objectives.   

The initial impact of the news may have left us in a fog of uncertainty. However, focussing on becoming hardy will help us to navigate our organisations through these difficult times. Whilst we may not be able to un-fry the egg, this may be an opportunity to create a new recipe for the future.