Rowena Wood

Rowena Wood: How managers can use coaching to help employees transition back to work

This last year has been without precedent. Many people, from health care professionals and government officials to individuals have made massive efforts to help us return to normal life as summer approaches. There has been a momentous paradigm shift as society has pulled together under the ‘new normal’ to bring us to where we are now. But that’s just it. Where are we now?

As a manager, you’re probably either back at work or preparing to return to work as your employer re-opens their business or offices, either in part or full. In this article, transformational coach Rowena Wood guides managers through a self-reflection process that will allow them to understand their own and their team members’ behaviour better. Using a collaborative coaching approach she helps managers explore how they can create a healthy work environment as they prepare their team members to return to work.

Understanding your own paradigm: how do you see your world?

From a psychological perspective, a personal paradigm relates to how you see the world and behave within it. In essence, how you live your life is based on your unique personal values, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and expectations. Your personal paradigm can also influence how you view your role, and how you behave as a manager. Here are some questions managers can ask themselves to help them establish their own personal paradigm and how it has been affected by the pandemic:

  • Do you think your own paradigm may have shifted in the pandemic? Chances are that it has. An essential part of a successful transition back to work and being able to support your team is understanding how your personal paradigm, your view of the world, has shifted.
  • How does your paradigm impact and align with the reality of the world right now, and the new norms in your role and workplace? Wow, that sounds deep, doesn’t it?! But as humans we can (and do!) change, grow and adapt. Make a list of three ways in which your paradigm has shifted for you.

The effects of the pandemic on your paradigm

When you experience an event, you experience it through your senses: seeing, hearing, touching, and sometimes tasting and smelling. This last year we’ve all felt somewhat bombarded by information and from new, sometimes unwanted sensory experiences. The way in which each of us deals with that barrage of information is to unconsciously filter and sort it, to identify what we think makes sense to us or is relevant to our needs. Each of us will filter things differently!

This way, your brain can prioritise information and make sense of your experiences and of the world around you. Your values, beliefs, instincts, habits, attitudes, personality, and mood are all filters that play a part in unconsciously accepting, deleting, changing, or grouping information according to whether it’s seen as relevant and fits your personal paradigm.

A straightforward way of reflecting on and assessing your own paradigm, is to approach reflection as a series of questions to yourself. For example:

  • What 5 words define the pandemic for you?
  • Over and above social distancing measures, what, if any, are the long-term habit changes that you’ve made in the last year?
  • How do your values compare now to pre-pandemic, and what are your top 3 values?

Having insight into your own paradigm shift can help you on your own return to work and enable you to support yourself and your team effectively.



Rowena Wood Rowena Wood, the author of this article, is a trained transformational coach, specialising in later life career transition and women’s health. Find more details here