If you know me well, you know I’m one of those people who often says “change is good,” but like the rest of the human race I’m also notoriously resistant to change. Eventually I get there, but only after some moaning and groaning along the way. There is comfort in the familiar. It feels safe to do things the same way year after year because we know what to expect. Fear of change in our personal lives, whether a simple change like whether to move your living room couch, or challenging a big tradition like who is hosting Thanksgiving, can throw people into a tailspin and cause a lot of conflicts.
Apparently, people have been struggling with changes as far back as 470 BC, as observed by Socrates’ quote, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
As leaders in our workplaces, we must understand that change means facing fear, which is healthy and will generally make us stronger and smarter. My own “change cycle” often looks something like this:
Stage 1: Resist. I dig in my heels, say “no” to the new idea.
Stage 2: Consider. I ponder the new idea in the shower or while working out at the gym.
Stage 3: Process. I discuss the idea, again and again, with the originator and others involved, all the while throwing out the obstacles and playing devil’s advocate.
Stage 4: Acceptance/Action. If all of the obstacles are overcome and the new idea has more pros than cons, I’m finally able to say, “that’s a great idea” and move forward with the change.
As leaders, we also need to remember that those we lead will go through some resistance to change and each employee does so at a different pace. Allowing everyone on your team time to buy into change in the workplace is ideal, but not always possible depending on time and other circumstances.
As we head into the fourth quarter of 2018, our team at CEA will be doing some strategic planning to establish goals and make changes for 2019. It will be exciting and uncomfortable to challenge our old thinking. Check out the tips in the article Seven Principles for Managing Change in this month's newsletter. Wish me luck and let us know if we can help your company implement your goals in the New Year!