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Change Curiosity Fear Habits Mindset

Seven practical tips for dealing with change

The truth is there’s so much change and it’s moving so fast, that the thought of investing time in a proper change process is considered unproductive, too expensive, a waste of time, or overwhelming.

Too much change makes us uncomfortable. We have a natural tendency to resist when change happens to us.

If you thought things would calm down, now that Covid seems to be more or less under control, you were in for a surprise last week. The word war has actively entered our vocabulary again.

Let me add to this optimistic opening by highlighting a cliché I’ve used myself many times, but that starts to annoy me.

Change is the only constant.

Before I move one, a little disclaimer. This sentence may still be somewhere on my website, but I’m growing allergic to it.

Why?

Because I’m done with this sentence.

I’m not done with it because it’s not true; I think we’re dealing with more change than ever (see my first paragraph for illustration).

I’m done with it because the statement gets abused.

It has become a mechanism for some to justify change towards people and, in fact, say: “change is the only constant; deal with it.”

And off you go, dealing with change on your own. Feeling like some type of outcast because everyone else seems to have accepted that “it is what it is” and is moving on.

The truth is there’s so much change and it’s moving so fast, that the thought of investing time in a proper change process is considered unproductive, too expensive, a waste of time, or overwhelming.

Or we just don’t know how to do change properly.

So, we accept the fact and move on, numb to another change coming at us. But that doesn’t mean we’re now masters of change.

As human beings, we will never be masters of change completely. It’s not how we’re built.

Too much change makes us uncomfortable. We have a natural tendency to resist when change happens to us.

We continue to be creatures of habit. We always will be.

Being a creature of habit has a lot of upsides, so no judgment here, but it will continue to make change hard.

Let’s face it. The change we experienced the past two years was forced upon us. This war that just started, is forced upon us.

Change we were not looking for, but nevertheless may have opened our eyes. Habits have changed and created a new reality. And they will continue to be challenged and change.

But that doesn’t mean we need more change or are now masters of change.

We will continue to find change hard when it’s not the result of a deliberate choice we made ourselves.

Here’s why this is relevant for business.

For all those so-called leaders (managers) that want to implement change after change after change to improve the performance of their business, it doesn’t mean you can just treat your people as masters of change.

Implementing change is and will be a deliberate and sensitive process.

With potentially dramatic consequences if not done well.

So, if you’re in charge and about to embark on a change journey, you need to know the fundamentals:
  • People will handle change better when they feel they’re in charge of it. Find ways to create curiosity and interest and include people so they can own it.
  • There always needs to be a compelling reason why change is necessary. Why is the current status quo not good enough anymore?
  • You will need to provide a clear vision of the future. Not only is it essential to explain why change is necessary, but you will also need to paint a vivid picture of the future situation and why this will benefit the company and its associates.
  • Include concrete next steps and what is expected of people. Make it tangible, so people know what to expect soon.
  • Don’t underestimate the role of communication. Executives always think that people immediately get what they’re trying to do. This is not the case. Sometimes it takes a lot of repetition before people hear what you’re saying.
  • Don’t forget you’re ahead of the curve. What may be known to you for months is new for those who hear it first. You already went through a learning curve, while those who listen to it now are just at the start. Therefore, be patient and listen.
  • You will need to demonstrate and lead with empathy. Show that you care, ask questions, and try to position yourself in the shoes of those who are impacted most by the change.

When you consider those seven steps and execute them, you have a chance to overcome resistance and people will indeed engage in the process.

Your turn: how do you master change?

Do more of what the world needs!

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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