Well, it’s a new year. Change is in the air. Resolutions are made. Resolutions are broken. My husband jokes that the only change he likes is if it is loose and in his pocket. You know the old saying, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Change is always hard. It is even harder when we are surprised. So we try to anticipate it. We try to imagine what is coming or what will be, so that we are not surprised.
Sometimes this is good! Anticipating what may happen allows us to mitigate risk, plan ahead and be ready to act in a moment notice. Sometimes it is not so good. It causes rumors. It causes drama and takes our energies off the tasks we know are happening.
So what do you do? When do you anticipate and when do you not?
1. If the change in question has little effect on your day to day job, no mitigation plan required.
2. If the change in question has no effect on any decisions you have to make, no mitigating plan is required.
3. If the change in question directly changes a process you are responsible for, time to think through mitigation plans.
4. If the change in question directly changes how you make a decision, time to think through mitigation plans.
Change is something that most people do not like, or at least they say they don’t. Or as my husband is fond of saying, “I like change, as long as it is loose and in my pocket.” Yet for all the unknowns change brings, I happen to like change.
Change comes in many forms like trying a new restaurant, trying something new from the menu, exploring a new location, or even doing something I have never done before. However, change can be disconcerting because you do not know what the outcome will be. You may not like the food you try, you may get lost in a new area, and you may fail at the (new) task you try.
I know you’ve heard this said at least a million times, “But we’ve always done it this way.” And there are certain things that should adhere to “doing it like we did before” – I can’t imagine the folks in accounting walking in one day and saying, yup, we didn’t feel like doing the year-end reporting like before so we tried something new…
Change opens up uncertainty, the possibility of failure, and will increase your stress but without it, you never discover new things or develop and improve. When companies and organizations go through the journey of change, it takes the whole team coming together to make the change journey successful.
Here are a few key things that a healthy team can do to embrace change… and it’s really some of the “same old things” such as:
- Communicate. Share what you know, when you know it.
- Ensure you “bubble up” questions, seek answers and take time to listen.
- Follow the change through to the end. (Since it’s almost football season, here’s an analogy – don’t get to the one yard line and say you’re done, get into the end zone and then say it’s done).
- Support each other through the stress. Some days you will be stressed, other days your teammates will be. Help each other through the stress.
- Keep focused on the journey. When you have a bad day, when you feel you have taken a step backwards – brush it off and tackle the new day with a fresh outlook.
I am a strong believer of perseverance. It is something I embraced early in life and have seen the fruits from over time. Some would call me tenacious, some would call me stubborn, my husband calls me annoying (at times). I think I just am persevering.
Negative words regarding perseverance always surprise me. We celebrate musicians (Yo-Yo Ma), sport superstars (Michael Jordan), and novelists (J.K. Rowling) – all of whom persevered to get to their respective top.
Hours of MJ’s Practice, J.K’s failures, with a single-minded focus of playing, winning and writing. We are in awe of the rich and famous but have you ever asked yourself how they got there? Everyone loves a winner, or winning themselves. Maybe because successful people make it look easy. Maybe, because we only see the fruits of our heroes and never their labor, we do not realize the amount of energy and perseverance there is in the success they have achieved. My dad used to say, “It’s only hard because you don’t know how to do it, yet.”
In business, to be successful it is critical to persevere. Nothing stays the same, challenges come, people change, and solutions vary. In the business world the old cliché rings true; “The only constant is change.” It is only when companies persevere, tenaciously drive to an answer, and stubbornly refuse to fail, will a company truly become best in class.
As we know, businesses are just groups of like-minded people working toward a common goal. So, I think the word(s) used in business today to describe “perseverance” should really be “engaged employees”.
I am in awe of and indebted to those that passionately work to the greater good, that keep getting back up day after day, and put in the labor needed for the team to be successful – these are the real unsung heroes of our day; “Engaged employees.”
Are you in? I am.
Recently a friend shared something they learned in a management class:
Stress is created by the gap between vision and reality.
To reduce stress, change the vision or change the reality.
One or the other must change*.
It is really quite a simple idea, though many struggle with it. I don’t think people struggle with understanding that the gap causes stress – I believe they struggle with the idea of having to “change” what they want or with how best to change their reality. My husband says that the only change he likes is if it’s loose and in his pockets.
Should you change your vision?
Your vision of what reality should be may be right or it may be wrong. Only you can decide that. This concept does not judge or challenge the vision. It may be your dream, it may be your understanding of how things should be, or it may be what those around you are defining as the vision. This question only asks if the vision needs to be adjusted.
Assess the vision. Take a hard look and decide if you need to change it.
Should you change your reality?
Instead of griping about the situation – change it. A former Program Manager I knew used to say; “Own what’s yours.” What do you need to do to change your reality to align with your vision? Things like training, organization, better communication, and clarification all can change a reality.
Assess the reality. What is necessary for you to do to obtain the vision.
As leaders, we must clearly communicate a vision, and provide the things necessary for the reality to align to the vision. If your team seems stressed, ask yourself if it is their vision or reality that needs adjusting. Better yet, ask your team. They’re smart people. They’ll know.
Disclaimer: We all know there is both good stress and bad stress. To obtain world class quality it is necessary to embrace a vision that reality has not yet quite achieved AND the stress of getting there is not bad. It drives continuous improvement. It is only when we are either defeated or apathetic that good stress turns into bad stress.
Remember, the first step in making any change is recognizing what needs to change. So either change your vision or change your reality. Pick. Act. De-stress.
*Paraphrased quote from Gustav Kaeser Training International management training
Over the last month we have been exploring thoughts around problem solving – tools, mind-sets, and validation. Today I want to talk about having a sense of urgency.
Solving problems with a sense of urgency is key to a company’s competitive position. Faster is important when competition is nipping at your heels to take jobs and profits. When we truly internalize that our performance (on a daily/hourly level) is the “pad lock” to our longevity – urgency becomes the key to unlocking the “pad lock”.
The best companies have people that work with a sense of urgency. Putting off what can be done today for tomorrow, just doesn’t cut it. You cannot do everything in a single moment nor should you try. However, a sense of urgency means focusing on the right thing at the right time in the right cadence. Simple, right? Well, not exactly.
Urgency does not mean chaotic. Creating chaos wastes resources.
Urgency does not mean disruptive. Changing things without intentional thinking wastes resources.
Urgency does mean purposeful. Pick your direction and then move. I believe you are working with a “sense of urgency” if you:
- Know what is important and are driving for sustainable results – every day, every decision, every communication.
- Get it done now, if it has to be done now, You don’t procrastinate. You don’t accept others procrastinating.
- Constantly ask, “what’s next?” Continuous improvement is first and foremost in your motivation.
- Constantly are communicating, almost borderline over-communicating to those around you what the important milestones for success are and what is being done next to achieve them
- Want more than just “good enough”. Meaning, you decide to actively do something about it other than criticize others. Don’t walk around complaining about trash on the floor – pick it up yourself.
- Are “all in” – no marking time on the clock, no doing just enough to stay under your boss’s radar
- Realize your responsibility is to make your team members’ job(s) better by error proofing their tasks. You know that “value added work” is king.
- Are satisfied enough to try again tomorrow to make it just a little bit better.