Acknowledging and managing workplace grief

I recently spent a couple of days with a team that has been through a lot.  

They got a new CEO in November 2017.  Then their head office has been moved from Canberra to Melbourne.  There have been a number of redundancies in Canberra as a result and then a handful of new staff employed in recent months.  To top it off they had to pull off a major event last month with some very new staff who are still getting their head around the corporate knowledge.

They have done really well. They are positive and keen and enthusiastic; but there are still wounds to heal, bridges to build and grief to deal with.

But a team can bear so much.

A new CEO brings about change. Change of approach, management style and priorities.

But a change of head office is huge. When things go wrong, and they will, there will many of the old guard fondly remembering the good old days.

We had to, as a team, honour the old days. Acknowledge the achievements of the past; recognise that we are here today because of all of the work that has gone before.

So we did two significant activities:

1) We created a time-line which the team created together; recognising key events and dates. The old guard got to explain what had gone before; to educate the newbies; to be sentimental. Their were long and detailed discussions where the team recognised the enormity of the achievements to date and how important it is to honour their history. They made a decision to get a timeline designed to be used as art for both their offices. Something that united them.

2) The Canberra team (the old guard) and the Melbourne team (the newbies) had separate meeting to work out what they wanted to tell the other group. They then met and shared important information. The Canberra team shared how painful the changes had been; how upset they had been. They wanted the Newbies to know that just because someone had been made redundant didn’t mean that they had done anything wrong and that many of them were still friends. They said they held the bulk of the corporate knowledge and they are keen to share it but the Newbies need to ask for information because they can’t know what they need to know when.  The Newbies said that they wanted to be a team; that they respected the corporate knowledge of the Canberra team; that they want to find ways to keep communication open and to socialise and to develop their relationships.

It was a truly beautiful moment in a two day workshop. There was real connection and healing. They were truly a team in that moment.

Grief is real; it is painful and it needs to be acknowledged and discussed to ensure there is healing.

 

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