business disruption

The Heart of Change Management

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We all know the adage, “the only constant in life is change.” But, why do some people thrive and others struggle in effectively managing through change.

As a client advocate, I observe first-hand the effects of disruption in large organizations. Whether it’s downsizing, restructuring, relocation, market or industry shifts, all roads lead to a path of uncertainty. The spectrum of how people respond to change ranges from instinctual self-preservation to overarching optimism. There isn’t a specific profile that corresponds with how someone will react to change. However, there are some common themes that trigger a response:

  • Uncertainty of role or lack of job security
  • Too little or too much time given to affect change
  • Lack of transparency or visibility into the process
  • Poor or limited communication channels
  • Limited personal or professional support system

While these triggers can span across industries, levels or roles, it is the desire for openness and connection that is universal. Sadly, it is often the most overlooked aspect of change management and one of the most critical to solve.

In order to further understand the business perspective, I asked a select group of current and former clients for their advice on how they effectively manage through change. Here is what they had to share:

  • Accept that change is inevitable. Even if not desired, and even if it’s not immediate, it will happen. One can either choose to engage with it knowingly, or have it thrust upon them. Being able to accept and embrace the idea of change itself, and being able to stay connected with the intention of it, and not being mired in expectations of specific results, is probably the healthiest thing someone/anyone can do for themselves, their teams, and the work.
  • Don’t view change as something negative. Rather, seize it as an opportunity to show adaptability, flexibility and willingness to move forward. Make recommendations or suggestions based on the company’s objective and goals – what are the initiatives the company is trying to accomplish and go above and beyond to shine!
  • Cast off suspicions and conspiracy theories behind the change. Upon hearing changes will occur, it is not uncommon to harbor these sentiments, especially if the news is unexpected. Nevertheless, I found it best for both my outlook and day-to-day sanity to embrace the disruption, which often is long overdue in many organizations. Making the most of it for both parties requires a positive mindset – a conscious decision that is yours to make.
  • Choose to be around positive people. Don’t stress, go for walks, think about what that change is and what you can do about it. Talk to people you trust that will listen and help you through it. And remember, don’t bash the company, the change or people in it – it’s just not healthy.
  • Participate knowing you are part of shaping the change. Be an advocate for what you believe in, while showing respect for others involved in the transformation. If your concerns are not addressed, consider whether or not you can embrace the situation and move forward productively. If you can’t, consider removing yourself from the situation. Obstructionism is harmful all around. Such frustration will not only have a negative impact on your team, and their work, but on your own precious psyche.

Whatever the advice, the key is knowing that people are at the heart of change management. Understanding the nuances in addressing their needs and providing an avenue for communication is key to any successful transition.

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