Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future.—John F. Kennedy
Dealing with change comes in varying degrees; some individuals are excited and invigorated when the “norm” becomes the “storm”, and others suffer to the point of almost shutting down when their comfortable routine is disrupted.
Our personalities and styles play a big role in how we respond to change – as leaders we sometimes need to be reminded that our style is not the only style. We need to observe, understand, and ask how others are feeling. We also need to recognize if others are having issues processing the change at hand.
Let’s face it, there’s much uncertainty in the world and not a lot of consistent communication about COVID-19. ie. Lasting impacts, statistics, causes, testing and treatment, etc.
Leadership expert and author Ken Blanchard provides 7 common reactions when change is requested (or when it just happens).
1) People will feel awkward, ill at ease, and self-conscious. Change means doing something different and, as such, people will almost always react with some degree of discomfort. Be mindful of people’s feelings during this time.
2) People initially focus on what they have to give up. To move forward, you must deal with what’s new and different. Talk with others about how they feel; give them a chance to process what’s happening.
3) People will feel alone, even if everyone else is going through the same change. For the change to be successful, it is crucial for people to feel connected and understood. Offer the support people need.
4) People can handle only so much change. Change may make people become immobilized and less productive. The best response: Have a clear plan and strategy for focusing people’s energy on the few desired behaviors that will produce the greatest results.
5) People are at different levels of readiness for change. Although almost everyone will experience some resistance to change, some people will start getting excited about the change, while others will dread and resist doing anything differently for as long as they can. Anticipate that not everyone will be on the same timetable.
6) People will be concerned about having enough resources. To remain competitive in today’s markets, organizations must be more productive with the same or fewer resources. Be ready to explain the need for belt-tightening.
7) People will long to revert to their old behavior. Typically people hope to return to what they were doing before. This behavior is natural and leaders must counteract it. When we revert to old behaviors, we lose all we have learned.
As a leader what steps are you taking to help navigate times of change? Listen, observe, and provide the necessary support needed to help individuals and teams adapt successfully.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.