Don't give change a bad name
"Change" has a bad reputation. Too often, change is seen as an explicit threat, bringing with it unknown dangers, and almost certain risks and catastrophes. However, in this article, I make an argument that change, if managed well as a skilled collaboration, offers up a wealth of opportunities. Giving change a bad name is not only unfair, but potentially damaging to business success.
According to dictionaries, a general meaning for the word "change" is
"to make or become different".
The definition doesn't include words like "better". It also doesn't include words like "worse". And it most definitely doesn't cover "and the world is going to end as soon as this happens". The issue is simply that altering patterns of behaviour for some of us comes as a bit of an unwelcome stop-you-in-your-tracks distraction, in busy work lives which are already full of distractions. There's then the fear of the unknown, another well-known human trait. Again, this doesn't apply to all of us, but it does affect a lot of people. So, if you add fear of the unknown to an unwanted and unexpected disruption, you create an immediate atmosphere of negativity.
Change Managers are often tasked with introducing change into situations or organisations. This has been a role popularised in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it's still alive and well. To date, change managers (or 'agents') have often been viewed as outsiders, doing change at teams.
It doesn’t have to be this way. At The Change Maker Group, we work with you, as equal partners, to build a change programme which works for your organisation. It is a collaborative partnership, where ideas, aspirations, challenges and potential deal-breakers are all discussed, shaped, made into a whole which will really work. Our change programmes yield results precisely because of the way we work with you … and the high quality services we can offer. Certainly, the way we run change with you allows you AND your team to grow and thrive as a result of the process. There is little so inspiring as watching people blossom when they realise the wealth of opportunities which open up for them, as a result of change.
And that's the point. Change is what you want it to be. Seriously. Anything different is change. Our hair growing is change. The seasons shifting from Winter to Spring, as I write, is change. Our children maturing into wonderful young adults, keen to take on their futures with both hands, is change. It's all good. It is all down to how we view the change, how we respond to it, and how we choose to behave. And this is important - as Viktor Frankl said;
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
It's fair to say that most workplaces pose sufficient challenges for most people's taste, most days. However, the kind of challenge to which Frankl refers is one of choice; what will we choose to do, in response to this change? We can always choose opposition, either angry or - often - passive-agressive inertia. However, what if we were to choose to simply be curious, and open to seeing what might happen? Not a massive commitment (but a pretty massive mindshift from the opposition viewpoint). What could happen if we embrace the change to explore the possibilities it opens up for us? What could we do to influence the change, to increase opportunities for our teams to thrive, to make our workplace a happier and more sustainable place?
This is where my starting point, of change being managed well, comes in. When you are a manager of people, those people will look to you to help them with their everyday work issues (and, sometimes, their domestic issues which have an impact at work). So you are in exactly the right place, at the right time, to support your team through whatever changes come along. And let's be honest, many change expectations will be top-down affairs, with savings or sales targets imposed from above. This could lead to a real sense of powerlessness ... if you let it.
Let's imagine, then, that you were to bring this news to your team - and then invite them to work out the solution. They could be free to examine working patterns, practices and systems. They could be free to explore new markets and competitor / best-in-breed examples of other ways of doing things. They could even be free to decide what this could mean for future team numbers. They would be empowered, because they felt trusted to control their own destiny. They would be more understanding of the change required, and almost certainly want to share in its delivery. They would have more sympathy for your position as their manager, understanding you're between a rock and a hard place. Most importantly, their eyes could be opened to totally new ways of doing things, and the opportunities (personal, professional and commercial) that this could bring.
How can I be so certain of this? Simple - it's how we support you to manage change in your organisation. It was a straightforward, inclusive, transparent approach which really works. We operate as trusted change partners, supporting your change programme with your management, not instead of them, and by forming strong, trust-based relationships with those affected. Effective project management with a healthy dash of reassuring, very human, support and encouragement - and it is a winning combination.
If you are reading this, and you run an organisation, are you demonstrating a change leadership approach which is working, or could you use some help? If you are reading this and you are tasked with delivering change for others, and you don't know where to start, could you use some help too? How much is this lack of engagement in change actually costing you, in lowered productivity, slowing market engagement, lost income?
This is where The Change Maker Group can really help. We’re always happy to work with organisations to boost their corporate confidence with change, so they can grow their own Change Makers. Our aim is to make ourselves redundant in your organisation, because you have the skills and tools to manage it effectively, time after time.
If a chat with The Change Maker Group feels like it might helpful, drop me a line.
Contact Astrid at firstname.lastname@example.org