Re-Entry - A Model for Renewal and Performance

May 20, 2020

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by Kara McCord, M.A. IO Psychology

head-thoughtHow Does this End?

Right now, in this moment, your organization might very well be in survival mode. Your team is learning to work from home, or you’re trying to figure out what social distancing looks like in a workplace. Think of survival mode as “phase 0” on the journey toward re-entry. On any given day, it might feel like survival mode will last forever, but it won’t.


We’re all on a journey of re-entry or put in a more aspirational way: a journey of renewal. But where are we going? How will we know it’s time to go back? And what are we going back to? Talmetrix believes your team already has the answers to these questions, you just need to know how to prompt them to share and how to listen for insight.

In this article, we’ll look at the three phases of re-entry: 1) adapting with a resilient mindset, 2) problem-solving, 3) renewing purpose and performance.

Look at it this way: each phase is a question (actually, many questions) that your team will answer.

  • In phase 1, adapting with a resilient mindset, your team will tell you how prepared they are to manage adversity, where they need help, and what natural strengths you as a leader have to build on.
  • In phase 2, problem-solving, your team will reveal how they work together to achieve outcomes in what is functionally a brand-new world.
  • In phase 3, renewing purpose and performance, your team will tell you what it’s going to take to re-establish a culture of engagement and performance.
By the end of this article, you’ll be more aware of the signals to listen for, the ones that tell you when it’s time to move forward, and what you as a leader need to do to open doors (literally and figuratively). Let’s do this.

Phase 1: Adapting with a Resilient Mindset

How resilient is your team? How resilient are you? The first phase of renewal requires you to understand the psychological makeup of your team so you can grasp what materials you have to work with and what fault lines you’ll have to manage. We’ve identified nine components of a resilient mindset: reframing situations, optimism, self-efficacy, support, trust, wellbeing, work stress, openness and mindfulness. In this phase, you’re looking to discover and assess change readiness, meaning the individual’s commitment and ability to overcome adversity. Think of this as the “headspace” phase. Low scores indicate there’s work to do in order to progress toward renewal. Higher scores are a good sign that your team’s fundamentals are sound.

confidence@2xAt this phase, you’re listening for:

  • Belief in one’s own ability to perform
  • A belief in peers, confidence in the team
  • An openness to reframe situations

Phase 2: Problem-Solving

Phase one was I-centric, focused on individual behaviors and “me” statements. In phase two, we’re looking to see how those feelings drive group behavior. Can your team embrace positive, adaptive behaviors in an environment that is fluid and not governed by well-established, concrete facts? Is your team still reacting to the fundamental shocks to our shared economic and communal realities or is it embracing, or at least moving toward embracing, proactivity and innovation? We’ve identified eight components of problem-solving to test for: adaptive behavior, calculated risk-taking, collaboration, communication, growth mindset, innovation, proactivity, and trust. It’s not an overstatement to say your team got temporarily shattered over the last few weeks and now it’s time to merge the pieces back together. This phase is all about looking at your newly reconstituted teams and being open to the possibilities: you might be surprised; you may be stronger than you thought.

HandsPlant@2xAt this phase, you’re listening for:

  • Healthy, adaptive behaviors in the face of uncertainty
  • A re-embrace of the behaviors that traditionally drive success
  • Trust in self and team that manifests as positivity, hopefulness

Phase 3: Renewing Purpose and Performance

The billion (trillion?) dollar question: what’s on the other side? Who are we, and what does our work mean now, in this new world? How do leaders re-establish a performance-based culture? How do you reclaim what made your organization unique and valuable? Everything we do to win in business—innovate, collaborate, take risks, compete—will look different in a post-peak, pre-vaccine world. In this phase, leaders are looking to re-establish the key drivers of success. We’ve identified six components for this critical step: belonging, engagement, goals & values, organizational commitment, organizational effectiveness, trust. This phase is where all your work comes together to create what your specific new normal will be.

arrowsHead@2xAt this phase, you’re listening for:

  • Employee vitality, immersion and dedication
  • Affiliation and willingness to contribute
  • Decision-making, clarity of purpose

In summary, the only way out is through.

Our three-phase model of renewal is anchored in research and the best practices of change management with a focus on performance —and believe me, I could (and would love to!) deep dive into the data. But chances are you want to binge Ozark Season 3, not our model of change management. So, in conclusion, let me boil it all down to a fortune cookie: the only way out is through. Talmetrix will get through this. Your organization will get through this. But how we get through is not a foregone conclusion and there’s no roadmap. The only way out is through deep listening and nimble, strategic action along the way. If you’re still in phase 0, take heart—the best is yet to come.

In Remote Work, Talmetrix, Covid19, Employee Engagement, Employee Feedback, Employee Experience, Renew