If you have been around here long you have heard it: The only thing that is constant around here is CHANGE.
More often than not, people find themselves a little resistant to change, especially those changes they have little to no control over. That is why on employee feedback surveys we keep hearing that people want to be involved in decisions that affect them. That is a legitimate request, even if it is not always practical.
Part of your role as a leader is to embrace changes and help your employees see the value in them and gain their commitment to implement them. You help control the intersection of changes as they are disseminated throughout the organiztion. It is also vital to receive feedback from employees about changes, so that improvements and correction of errors can lead to our goal of continuous improvement. Most of the changes that we encounter are made with a lot of input and forethought. Nevertheless, we will always find ways to improve, and improving requires even more change. Our continued success is actually determined by our capacity for effectively embracing the CHANGE required to carry us into the future toward our vision.
Don’t be Like the Texas Armadillo who failed to adjust his response to threats when CHANGE was introduced to his world. First, you must know that the armadillo’s natural response to a threat is not to curl up in a protective little ball inside their hard shell as many assume. When threatened the armadillo jumps straight up three to four feet in the air. Take it from an old boy from Texas, that startling sight works well to the advantage of the armadillo.. When the predator finally recovers from their shock, the armadillo has used opportunity to retreat to safety.
That response worked real well, for hundreds of years, at least until a CHANGE was introduced into the armadillo’s world, one that introduced a different kind of threat. The CHANGE was the highway system, and the new threat was the eighteen wheeler, or any other automobile, for that matter. The Armadillo failed to adjust his response to this new threat, and found that juming straight up at the sight of an oncoming truck or car was not as effective. The result: Texas has a new brand of roadkill, and a lot of Texans are in need of repairs to the undercarriage of their automobiles.
The next page provides a typical response cycle to CHANGE. The sooner you move from feeling threatened by CHANGE to searching for solutions the more successful you will be in your organization. We call this a low R/C factor, or low Resistance to Change. Oh, by the way, be patient with the folks who have not had as much experience with Change as you have. With a little coaching and support they will learn how to search for solutions more quickly.
Common Reaction Cycle to Change in the Workplace
• “This will go away.” Probably not. In the workplace change is the only thing that is here to stay – and most of it is being done in order to stay competitive.
• “This is no big deal. I can just keep on doing as I have always done.” When you begin to see change it is a good sign that you should begin to change as well. If the company is changing faster than you are you may be in trouble.
• “Management doesn’t really care about us.” Is it possible to care deeply for others and still be unable to meet all their needs or to give them what they want? Yes.
• “Top management knows more than they are telling us.” They are probably telling you everything they possibly can. However, all the answers may not be apparent to you or even to the management leading you.
• “Top management cooked up this plan, now let’s see if they can pull it off.” If you take a paycheck it is your job to run the plays and make them work, even if you don’t agree with them.
• “They don’t know what they are doing.” You’re probably right in that they don know all the answers. However, the greater mistake would be for them to wait until they had it all figured out and could pull it off with no glitches before changing. This could paralyze the organization.
• “These changes are not really necessary.” Regardless of the differing opinions regarding the changes, it is now necessary to make them work. An organization is most vulnerable in times of change. This is really when everyone needs to pull together to help make the organization as successful as possible.
• Confused? • Worried?
• Disoriented? • Feeling helpless and a little out of control.
• Feeling like a victim • No one to provide all the answers?
• What am I supposed to do? • What are my options?
• Feeling as if you can’t make much of a difference?
Search for Solutions / Reduce the Stress
• Take charge of your attitude, your self-esteem, and your well being. You can choose your focus during this transition. You can be a powerful and positive change agent.
• Monitor your Self -Talk – the emotional regulator
• Make this change your personal mission. Don’t wait for others to come up with all the answers or to make things better for you. You may wait a long time, and grow more frustrated as you wait. Help create the future as you would like it to be.
• Look for the opportunity in the midst of the adversity.
• Take good care of yourself as you manage the stress of the changes. Take the appropriate breaks, exercise, eat well, sleep well, enjoy your hobbies, relax well
• Decide how you will respond to the rumors that are spreading.
• Set personal limits
• Insure that your life choices are in line with your inner values and convictions.
• Manage your priorities.
• You may be able to use this opportunity to make your mark, to make your significant contributions.
• Utilize your support network. Look for others who have navigated the waves of change and learn from them. Utilize your support network outside of work as well.
• Hang on to your sense of humor.
• Ask for help.
People respond to change differently. In times of multiple personal and organizational changes a person may be in different stages of this cycle with each change they are dealing with. Sometimes those who have more experience with change have come to understand this cycle and move through this cycle more quickly, enhancing their resilience to change.