Everyday, every hour, change confronts us. We can choose to accept or resist it. Nearly all of us are fearful of change; this reaction in us acknowledges that something is out of our control and that, alone, is fearful. Some go with the flow; others put up on a mask, put up a fence/wall, or bury their head in the sand hoping that everything will go back to the way it was because they were comfortable there.
It is important to acknowledge that we will all act differently when change is facing us. The height and width of that fence/wall will depend various things, but we will all react. Knowing how we tend to react (our habits) will help identify:
- our ability to adapt
- our limitations
- our strengths
- our reasons for “protecting” ourselves.
As a manager or leader, knowing how and why you react will help you manage any resistance to change with your team, employees or followers.
When I faced change within my team/organisation, I gave my team a book to read: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr Spencer Johnson. I then invited them all to a meeting to discuss the book and the changes that the organisation would be asking of us.
For two of the team, this was a re-read of a book that had become part of their “library” of personally development books. Just from this fact, you can guess that their fence/wall was not so tall, and not so thick. For the rest, it was the first time. Therefore, I was confronted by tall and thick walls. There were varying forms of resistance expressed in a number of ways.
And I also built a wall – directly facing those on my team who were seriously struggling. I had to deal with my reactions before I could start to work with my team.
It was a challenge to help different people see how they were reacting. I tried to help them see that:
- not everything can be controlled
- the fear was understandable and to be expected but people had to take responsibility for their reaction and not let this over-ride things
- they could, with help and support, embrace this change
It was a joy to slowly see the team gently make positive progress. It wasn’t easy, but when major change in the company became inevitable, they adapted themselves and adopted the new process.
So what about you? How do you react to change? How have you managed change?
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”