People all over the world are experiencing a huge amount of change as a result of the pandemic. It has been hard for many people who have gotten sick, lost their jobs, been forced to stay at home, or had to learn to work virtually.

As organization development practitioners and change agents, our professional lives are focused on helping leaders, teams, and organizations navigate change and transitions. Many of the theories and models from our field can be useful to everyone as they adjust in reaction to the coronavirus.

One model that has been especially helpful for us at Evolution Management is from Robert J. Marshak’ s 2006 book: Covert Processes at Work: Managing the Five Hidden Dimensions of Organizational Change. Marshak uses “covert processes” to describe any hidden or unconscious dynamic. As he worked with organizations implementing change, he noticed most focused only on the rational or logical reasons for the change. Leaders would explain the business reasons, and expect employees to adjust accordingly. What most leaders missed were the other dynamics at play for employees during the change.

His model raises into awareness 5 hidden dimensions of change to consider when leading or experiencing changes:

  • Emotions – affective and reactive feelings
  • Inspirations – values-based and visionary aspirations
  • Politics – individual and group interests
  • Mindsets – guiding beliefs and assumptions
  • Psychodynamics – anxiety-based and unconscious defenses

The hidden dimension that may be most relevant for the current situations with regards to COVID-19 is Emotions.

Monster Taming Tips

Here at EMI, we regularly check in with each other through weekly, 30-minute video calls; so we are able to make space for everyone to talk about what we are feeling in reaction to how our lives have shifted. We have talked of our worry or fear of the virus, either for ourselves or for our loved ones. We have felt sadness at the loss of our usual social contacts. These check-ins have also provided quick social visits, allowing us the chance to see each other, laugh together, and build stronger interpersonal connections.

Check-ins are a common practice for those in the Organization Development field. They can also be helpful in raising the hidden dimension of Emotions into awareness. Check-ins: 

  • Provide a great way to build and strengthen connections on a team.
  • Allow people to name what is at the forefront of their mind and put it aside so they can focus on the work at hand and be more present in meetings.
  • Offer a chance to understand and support colleagues when they might need it.
  • Allow groups to notice patterns or trends and recognize when an intervention might be needed.

If you are considering implementing check-ins with your teams or coworkers, these can be:

  1. informal, one-on-one conversations;
  2. casual and at the beginning of a meeting, where everyone has a chance to say how they are doing;
  3. more formal and at the beginning of a meeting, where someone poses a question for everyone to respond to (Check out Brene Brown’s suggestion on a 2-word check-in); and/or
  4. intentional (i.e., meetings scheduled for the sole purpose of checking in with each other).


What’s your “monster” challenge? Send your brief description to If your monster is selected, we’ll send you a fun coloring book to help you relieve the stress this bad guy has caused you.