What is it about the word ‘change’ that has most of us quaking in our boots?
We’ve just rung in the New Year and many people will have made resolutions they have every intention of sticking to. Common goals are health-related, such as eating more healthily given our the indulgence over Christmas, or to give up smoking and not be at risk from related diseases later in life.
Come February, the gyms are back to normal and all too often those good intentions and vows to change become distant memories. Failure is accepted and most people just carry on as they were until another New Year dawns…
Change isn’t something to fear and it takes some commitment to see it through. Change requires planning and organisation, maintenance and review, for it to be an effective, long-term adjustment.
Change is necessary. It facilitates learning in people and in business, it helps companies retain their competitive edge. Change has to happen, and to not change can bring more adverse effects.
But what if change is forced upon you?
All of us have been in a situation at work when we were told that change is necessary for business to continue or improve. Was such change foisted on you without any consultation? How did that make you feel?
Although change is relentless, in many cases, once the word ‘change’ starts to get bandied around panic sets in amongst a workforce. Unsure of what changes will be made and how things will play out causes fear to rise to the surface. Some resist the need for change and question why it’s necessary at all.
Even if we do recognise that change is needed, and current conditions or methods are not working, we automatically fear the unknown…
“Yes, things may be bad at the moment, but they could be even worse following ‘change’. Because we can’t, at this moment, know for sure what may happen, surely sticking with things as they are is ‘better the devil you know’?”.
There are many versions of the common psychometric tool, the ‘change curve’ – the best known is the Kubler Ross version, which leapt from the medical world into management textbooks once people saw the pattern of reaction to any change was just like someone receiving the news that they were terminally ill. Though this may sound sensationalist, the impact of change can be truly profound.
Have a look at the following graph that shows people’s reactions to change over time (click on the link to download). Change Curve.ppt Imagine if they were involved or consulted when change is at the contemplation stage? How much better would it be if you had their support and full reserves of energy at the outset of any change – not once it’s been implemented and enforced regardless of their opinions, or after they’ve festered over the decision itself?
Our psyches are not built to accommodate instant change, and anything sprung on us makes our inherent ‘fight or flight’ instinct rush forward; neither reaction is conducive to effective adjustment, despite how any change may look on paper.
Giving people time to adjust to proposed changes, and the reasoning behind such decisions affords balanced, thought-out feedback, as opposed to instant negativity. If employees feel their opinions will be listened to and possibly acted upon they’ll feel more invested in the change when it actually happens.
Spelling out the rationale behind any decisions: why change is needed, i.e. what’s not working at the moment and what the proposed changes may look like, can help a workforce see that action has to be taken. When people visualise the outcome they often realise there’s nothing to be feared.
Coaching is all about managing change and avoiding conflict, which can often see valued members of staff leaving the company. The investment into such help when facilitating change is more than reaped in vastly reduced recruitment and training costs and as a result of a loyal, committed culture amongst employees. It’s also easier for a third party to see how changes will look overall, and the impact they may have on both management and their staff.
In subsequent posts I’ll be looking at various psychometric testing /change models and how our mindset is crucial to realising effective change. As always, if you have any comments or would like to discuss how executive coaching could help you in your career, contact me on 01302 220221.
Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images.
- Posted in: Career Coaching ♦ Emotional Intelligence ♦ Executive Coaching ♦ Psychometric Testing
- Tagged: bridges, career coaching, change, change curve, change model, coaching facilitating change, emotional intelligence, executive, executive coaching, involving staff, kubler ross, lewin, Management, managing change, prochaska, psychometric testing, psychometric tools, reactions to change