Congratulations, we did it. (Almost) all of Australia is now enjoying the freedoms of being COVID-safe, just in time for Christmas. It’s no small feat, and it hasn’t come without major sacrifices for many of us.

During the thick of it, we were in survival mode, running off adrenaline. Few of us had the opportunity to stop for a second to look around and notice what we were achieving. But many still haven’t.

One person who did though is Sabina Read, renowned psychologist and corporate health management coach, and this month’s Disruption Circle guest speaker.

In our latest and last event of the year, she provided us with some fascinating insights into her observations of human and organisational life during the year of COVID. She’s a strong believer in using what you’ve learnt (good or bad) to set yourself up for future success. And now that we’re mostly through the hardships of the pandemic it’s time to do just that.

Here we recap the three steps born from her from COVID insights that she shared on how to use what you’ve learnt and experienced to make yourself, your team, and your business better.


This year pushed the “pause button” on our lives – although you wouldn’t be shamed for thinking it felt more like “fast forward”. While regularity was put on hold, we were all working hard to keep things afloat. Nothing felt paused (except our social lives).

But, in reality, our whole sense of normality was paused. We kept going, but not in the same way we ever had before. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges and adversity you (and your organisation) faced this year.

Not only have we dealt with a lot, but we’ve learned a lot – and that’s important not to forget when we tick into 2021. If you think back, you’ll realise that, organisationally, you will have learnt:

  • Strong and positive leadership is important
  • the impossible may very well be possible
  • decisions can be made without all of the information
  • What’s really important to keep business going
  • What you can live without
  • Time is precious

It also helps to remember that this was a completely abnormal year, so you shouldn’t judge performance by normal standards. Be kinder to yourself and your team.

Adjust, we are all only human

As an HR leader, it is ok to be vulnerable and recognise you don’t have all of the answers. There is no existing script for what to do next. Just like there was no one solution for every business to deal with the pandemic, there’s no one way forward in the wake of it. One size solution for an organisation will not be adequate.

As much as we say we want to “get back to normal”, that normal doesn’t actually exist anymore. Use what you’ve acknowledged to create a customised way forward that suits your people.

Your teams may have changed; your work environment certainly has – as have the needs and expectations of your customers. That all means your goals, KPIs, operating processes and more will likely all need to change as well – so it’s time to adjust! The only ‘right’ way to do things is the way you decide.

It might seem like a hassle, but it’s also an opportunity, and it can help to reframe it that way – a positive mindset can make a difference.


As a business leader, it’s your job not only to set expectations and implement the right processes, but to help your people achieve in this new world, and foster the right environment for performance.

One of the things many organisations acknowledged as a positive change this year was the enhanced focus on employee wellbeing. This needs to continue if organisations want to see long-term success.

Successful post-disruption leaders will need to:

  • Display empathy
  • Make their people feel valued
  • Recognise difficulties their people have faced during disruption
  • Help them make sense of change

(Sabina spoke of one CEO who visited each member of staff during COVID lockdown to check they were ok. This is an extreme, but a great example of genuine empathy).

Assessing the wellbeing of your organisation without tokenism is a must. The wellbeing model from Seligman PERMA (pictured below) is a good perspective of wellbeing assessed across five foundations. Using such a model can allow leaders to build more personal discussions with their staff and to assist the staff in assessing their wellbeing.

wellness theory

This year has had a huge impact on organisations and the people within them. But it’s also given us the opportunity (and the tools) to better manage disruptions going forward.

If you want to hear more from Sabina tune into her podcast Human Cogs.

At Choice Career Services, we support organisations manage the human impact of change. From pandemic-sized disruptions to restructures unique to your business. Talk to a specialist for customised, compassionate solutions at no-obligation. Get in touch with an expert.