Managing change in the time of COVID-19

Change management practices, principles can help navigate troubled waters

Tom Morin is an instructor in Mount Royal's Organizational Change Management Certificate.

Tom Morin is an instructor in the Organizational Change Management Certificate program offered by Mount Royal University's Faculty of Continuing Education.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted that change is the only constant. Given that, it makes sense to have skills to navigate and deal with what can be an inevitability.

The COVID-19 pandemic is bombarding us with change at a break-neck pace, says Tom Morin, speaker, workplace consultant, author and instructor in the Organizational Change Management Certificate program offered by Mount Royal University's Faculty of Continuing Education.

“Now, more than ever, we need to appreciate how normal it is for people to resist many of the massive changes that are taking place. Change management is all about understanding how people are impacted by change and then building bridges between where they are today and where we want them to be tomorrow,” Morin says. “We’re starting to have conversations about a new, post-COVID workplace. It’s one thing to figure out what you want to do, but it’s another thing entirely to determine how you are going to implement that change and make it successful.”

The principles and practices that make up organizational change management apply to executing nearly all change initiatives in organizational settings. To be successful, Morin says, one of the first things we can do is learn the language of change.

“That language gives us new ways of understanding what people are going through and what a successful change looks like. Then we can learn the proven approaches and models that actually get people to change,” Morin says. “It’s in the doing. Our goal is to create a sustained change in behaviour that enables our organizations to realize a return on investment in change.”

Even before the pandemic, change management had become a core competency for leaders and project managers. Mount Royal’s Organizational Change Management Certificate teaches sought-after skills for leading, facilitating and sustaining change, as well as creating a high-performance organizational culture. Working interactively with instructors who are experienced, active change management professionals, students learn the principles of change management and put them into practice using tools, techniques and strategies applied to real-world examples and case studies.


"The changes in how we work and the precariousness of work become a bit easier to deal with if we have a vision for our working lives."

Tom Morin


Morin knows the personal and professional benefits of change management. He enrolled as a student in Mount Royal’s Organizational Change Management Certificate in 2014 to formalize what he’d been studying on his own. He then became an instructor in the program and now sits on Mount Royal's Organizational Change Management Advisory Committee.

Since face-to-face classes were cancelled as a result of COVID-19, the certificate’s coursework has been moved online, a transition Morin has been involved with. The introductory course begins May 19. Morin recognizes that some potential students might not be comfortable with online learning, but encourages those people to explore that thought process through the change management lens. When we say something isn’t for us, that should serve as a call for us to explore our own resistance to change, he points out.

“If you’re really interested in learning about change or passionate about helping people change, then online learning provides another great channel for building the skills and knowledge you need,” he says. “Often, we resist change because we are grieving a loss. I might resist online learning because I am grieving the loss of the traditional classroom experience.”

Once someone realizes the specific loss they are resisting, they can find new ways to fill that gap and begin moving through the change. In the case of losing the traditional classroom experience, they might decide to engage more fully in the online forums with their classmates and have conversations about change with their family and friends.

“For some, the benefits of online learning might include fewer distractions when engaging with the content, no travelling to the classroom, and not having to take coffee breaks at a specific time,” Morin says.

Morin recently added another title to his resume: author. His book, Your Best Work, was published in March. In it, he shares his story of finding meaning in work after three near-brushes with death. For many, work is the largest project in our lives, so it’s critical to create a working life that’s uniquely right for each of us, he says. Imagine if all the energy you put into work — the doing of it, the talking about it, the anticipation of it — was in service of something that really mattered to you.

“The changes in how we work and the precariousness of work become a bit easier to deal with if we have a vision for our working lives. We no longer feel like a feather in the wind,” he says. “This is really what the book tries to do: help people, shake off stereotypes or what people tell you should be doing and get on a path that will be sustainable throughout our lives.”

April 29, 2020 — Ruth Myles

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