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
“Not even enough for a cup of coffee.”
A close friend once told me that he only liked change if it was loose and in his pocket. This is also the same guy who knows exactly how much the tolls are going to be between O’Hare and his destination. However, if you were to ask him to change his route you’d witness a melt down. What do you mean go a different route? Why?
Change is hard for people.
Change brings ambiguity; you don’t know what tomorrow will look like.
Change brings new routines; you have to learn and re-learn things.
Change brings new work; you may have to do something you never did before.
Change brings additional work; you may have to work harder through the change.
Change brings new people/new ideas/new stuff; you have to sort and absorb something different than the status quo.
Changes also can make things better…
- Change can make us stronger
- Change can make us more efficient, give us more time in our day
- Change can secure a future path of security
Instead of fighting change, try embracing it. It is hard going through it, but I have found it is always better on the other side.
I would be interested in hearing how changes at work brought a new and better work environment (culture, empowerment, efficiency). Feel free to comment below or tweet to me: @melissaholobach