The Hospitality Industry will need to reinvent itself and define new business models. Rents & profits are going down the drain, occupancies are low, many properties – especially the 5-star city properties are closed until Mid-August – and I wonder what will become of the big event machines with theme parks, conference centres etc. There is a need for survival, in the here and now, every day as revenue streams have not come back. Yes, of course, it differs across countries, however, we are all affected by it. With many of my coachees, I’ve shared the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle and maybe this is also supporting our thinking, taking perspective, which may be helpful for us to envision the future.
I continue to have the sensation that our future clients are going through the 1st stage of grief: Maybe it’s the right moment to ask ‘Where do we stand on the Corona Change curve?’
We have been hearing much about epidemiology, medical science and the economics of the pandemic. We are only starting to hear about the psychological impacts of the current situation –yet this drives how people make decisions and plan in organisations, how they interact with others and how they approach their lives. As Senior Coach and Consultant for Life, with a diversified personal development, I have been curious about the mental journey that people have gone through over recent weeks.
- How are we coping with the disruption of our professional and personal lives?
- How are we dealing with the emotional ups and downs over a prolonged period of lockdown?
- Are we slowly moving towards a ‘new normal’? And what is the ‘new normal’, can we even refer to it as ‘normal’? What are we learning in the process?
To understand this better, I asked some clients and others in my network for their thoughts and have added their reflections to my own:
- Those in work tend to be overworked having operated in crisis mode for many weeks now – long days full of video meetings, constantly changing priorities (sometimes daily), little time to think, exhausted from juggling child care and work, the list goes on. Boundaries between work and home life are blurred more than normal, with people feeling an obligation to always be available.
- Short term thinking wins on most days. After many weeks of experiencing a stress response, people are feeling tired and drained.
- Those not in work (because they are furloughed, short-in work, self-employed or unemployed) are often concerned about the future (especially the younger workforce).
- Whilst family commitments are more manageable, there can be feelings of loss, guilt, anger or anxiety. Some have moved through this and are enjoying a period of rest and quality time with their family.
- Others have started to think about their personal and career development, following the motto ‘let’s make the best out of it, let’s use the crisis to gear up”.
At the beginning of the lockdown, people stopped responding to messages – a kind of ‘psychological lock-down’. The reasons would have been very individual needs to deal with practicalities, too busy, feeling overwhelmed, confused, scared. As a coping mechanism, some people retreat when they are under pressure.
Since the lock-down has started to be eased, I have noticed a shift with more people looking forward again and re-engaging. I’ve heard the words ‘I stopped waiting for things and decided to carry on with my life’. Leaders have been feeling a loss of control which makes them feel more vulnerable than usual, in the face of unprecedented disruption to their businesses. Some try to regain control by micromanaging and getting closely involved in the detail of jobs they probably shouldn’t be doing. This is contributing to overwork which can derail leaders and their teams.
- Extroverts who get their energy from the outside world and from the interaction with other people have had a tough time with social distancing and home working feeling ‘like a panther in a cage’ (Rilke) at times.
- Introverts who get their energy from time alone and their inner world of thoughts, have been enjoying this recent period of time more. Fellow introverts have told me that they are finding it easier to contribute during video meetings compared to face-to-face meetings and they are rather enjoying the solitude of their home office!
Some people have started to see the positives of new ways of working – the opportunity to learn new skills, more efficient meetings, more contact with a more diverse range of people, less time wasted on commuting and business travel, improved staff engagement in some organisations, more regular communication. Yet not everyone is ready to spot these benefits and embrace them.
Coaching my clients via my CAI online coaching platform, Zoom, Skype, even WhatsApp, I have certainly been noticing strong emotions in the system.
In thinking about this, I’ve reactivated the Kübler-Ross Change Curve and have found it helpful in the current situation:
Faced with significant change, people move along this curve. The process is not necessarily linear and individuals may go back and forth experiencing ups and downs, or they may get stuck. One of my big learnings during the lockdown period has been the importance of acknowledging Shock, Time, Energy, Denial, Frustration, Depression, Experimentation, Decision, Integration & Allowing Emotions in order to enable clear thinking to follow. And we need clear thinking and creativity more than ever right now!
Each person is different, so there is no single recipe for how to get through this. Different people will also be at different points on the curve. Here are some options for personal coping strategies that people have shared as being useful:
- Rest and sleep – we are processing lots of change. This is tiring.
- Give structure to your day/week – routines introduce a sense of normality which can help us to function more effectively again.
- Resort to yoga, mindfulness & walks in nature -to calm down and focus.
- Connect with people who give you energy and a different perspective. Talking through your experiences helps to process them.
- Focus your attention on things that you can influence.
- Do something you really enjoy.
- And very important -have a laugh!
My encouragement to leaders is to look after themselves in these times, only then can you look after your team and the business. Often, I realise that leaders who have not been taking care of themselves prior to COVID19, have more difficulties in doing so now. How will they impact others in the organisation, if they do not practice self-care as well as care for others – it may need to become a strategic necessity: “The COVID-19 global pandemic is challenging leaders on an unprecedented scale, with most organisations fighting to survive while keeping their staff and stakeholders safe, both physically and mentally. More than ever, leaders need to reach out to coaches to support themselves, to remain effective and enable others to navigate successfully through this.” Managing Director, Paris.
About the author: Cornelia Kausch, RLA Advisory Board Member, Founder & Managing Director of CK Hospitality Advisors
Cornelia has a proven track record for developing hotels and turning around flagging properties having worked with Corinthia Hotels & Resorts, Dorint Hotels & Resorts, Westin and IHG. Cornelia is Managing Director of CK Hospitality GmbH founded in 2005. Her areas of expertise include strategy and brand development; asset management; change management; refurbishment and renovation projects; sales and marketing; operations for small and large hotels across star ratings; and executive coaching.