It is hard to estimate the number of changes that we go through in a day, but Time Magazine puts the number of decisions that we make each day in the thousands. Each one of these decisions could produce a number of additional changes. Wow!
Change can be scary – it can be difficult – it can cause anxiety. However, contrary to popular belief, People Don’t Hate Change.Click to tweet
Many changes in our workplaces and personal lives, we actually look forward to. We look forward to raises, to time off, to moving, to a new hair cut, to vacations, to renovating. In the case of renovating, at least we look forward to the final product, not necessarily the process, but that represents all kinds of changes that we go through. The process may be scary and we may not like what we have to go through to get there, even though we are really looking forward to the outcome.
The kind of change that people resist is the kind that makes them worse off.
- Difficult saying goodbye – whether it be to a loved one or a world that has given identity, change can often mean that we lose something of value.
- Dislike chaotic and confusing situations in which no one seems to know the new rules. This loss in direction can lead to a fear of the unknown.
- Difficulty taking risk. We are creatures of habit which provides us with security, predictability, stability, and comfort. When this disappears we become anxious and stay awake at night worrying about our choices.
Just like the technology of the 80s bears almost no resemblance to what we have today, our jobs and organizations probably bear little resemblance to 30 years ago. Our organization may have reduced its staff, outsourced some of their operations, or moved or closed locations. Part of a Comprehensive Workplace Wellness Program includes the culture and supports within an organization when an organization goes through these changes. Leaders have a direct impact on developing a positive culture that deals effectively with change and can ensure that their team is supported as it goes through these changes.
Focus #1: Leaders need to be aware of the danger signs that the stress of going through these changes is negatively impacting the team and their employees. They must be able to implement appropriate strategies within their teams to minimize these negative consequences.
Leaders need to watch for changes that may be occurring among their workers such as:
- disorganized thinking;
- decreased attention and/or concentration;
- lack of personal hygiene;
- difficulty expressing themselves;
- increased conflict;
- aggression toward themselves or others;
- strained interpersonal relationships;
- repeated short-term absences;
- frequent tardiness,
- frequent breaks;
- requests for days off for unusual reasons;
- decreased interest in work;
- inferior quality of work or decreased quantity of work compared to usual performance; or
- discussions about a new situation or multiple life changes in a short period of time
Any significant change in the person’s or team’s verbal and/or non-verbal behaviour, attitude or performance warrants attention, as does any change involving persistent, specific and uncharacteristic signs that last for more than two weeks, which indicate a mental health problem.
When noticing these responses, leaders need to know what resources are available within the company that can assist their team, including conflict management strategies, job specific flexibility, company benefits, and access to employee assistance programs. It is also good to know what resources are available within the community that can also be accessed such as family doctors, counselors and other health professionals.
Focus #2: Leaders need to help move employees from a position of fear and loss to one of control and problem solving.
Key Problem Solving Questions To Ask During Change:
1. Is the change certain to happen, is it only ‘possible’ or could it just be imagined?
2. Is this change temporary or is it permanent?
3. Who or what is in control of this change now?
4. How strong are my emotions involved with this change? 1-10
5. Is my reaction to this change in perspective with the other areas of my life?
6. What are the risks and are they serious if I ignore the change?
7. What are the risks and are they serious if I embrace the change?
8. What results do I want to happen?
9. Have I sufficiently surveyed the alternatives?
10. Which alternative is best?
11. Is it realistic to hope to find a better solution?
12. Is there time to search?
13. Is this alternative an acceptable means for dealing with the challenge?
14. Should I implement the best alternative?
15. Who can I draw support from?
By helping your team answer these questions you will help them assess the best plan of action to help them through the change. Sometimes this plan will include additional education and training to ensure competency in the world of the new change and an effective leader can make this part of the plan.
Focus #3: Employees are looking to the leader for information and reassurance. Communication is the key to helping employees move through the changes that they are experiencing.
Generate Trust. Transparency and trust build confidence within a team. As a leader, share openly with your team about what you know and what you don’t know. Don’t put a positive spin on a problem to suppress anger in the short-term. It is difficult to lead people through the unknown. By providing as much information as possible, they will be better equipped to make the change.
Two-way communication is important. Allow your team to raise tough questions and even to challenge some decisions that are being made. Employees want leaders that can handle the tough questions without getting defensive. The more the decisions can hold up to scrutiny, the more confidence they will have that it is the right thing to be going through. Help them to see how they are instrumental in the solutions that are being put forth.
Review what changes you have made and their success to-date. Highlight what has been learned, including improvements made, noteworthy efforts and achievements, as well as areas to be strengthened. Successful, past changes are easy to forget during the next tough change. Remembering the success and the ability that the team has developed by going through a tough change can help them during a current change that is taking place.
By focusing on the employees and their reactions to the change, by helping them to problem-solve what they can do during the changes and by being an effective communicator, your team will see you as an valuable change agent who cares about their team. You will positively impact their minds, motivation and their morale and this will in turn positively impact the overall culture of the organization and its continued ability to adapt successfully with the times.
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Gail SheehyClick to tweet
Resilience Is A Priority For An Effective Leader.
Leaders need to demonstrate the “three C’s of resilience.”
Commitment: They are committed to finding work-life balance. Even in tough times, they continue to have areas of their life that give them meaning, support and happiness when other areas may be going through chaos and change.
Control: Change does not shut them down. They recognize that there are opportunities during these changes for growth and prosperity. They rely on their problem solving skills to keep moving forward. Effective leaders also understand that it is necessary to give up some control and embrace new challenges in order to move forward. They bring other people in for assistance and realize that it is okay to ask for help.
Conditioning: Effective leaders stay physically and mentally fit, and pay particular attention to this during stressful and challenging times. An effective leader has an arsenal of strategies that they use to maintain their energy and their outlook.
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Dealing With Change:
- Recognize that life will continue to change. We are not the same as when we were a child and neither will our jobs or workplaces stay the same. The more that we anticipate that things will change, the less upset and surprised we will be
- Guard against and challenge any negative thoughts regarding the change
- Use the problem solving questions above to find alternatives and take action
- Communicate with others to help in problem-solving and keeping the change in perspective
- Put your best self forward. Continue to do your best work and don’t let a negative attitude undermine your work ethic
- Let go and relax
Change can be frightening, and disruptive. However, with the right attitude and actions, you can find opportunities in that change.
Do you need someone to work with your leaders on developing a supportive culture?
If so, Beverly Can Provide This Training. Please feel free to call and discuss the details at: 705-786-0437
Bring Beverly to your team:
Stress Smarts For Leaders
Other Article That You May Like:
- Workplace Wellness: Management Practices That Can Lead To A Toxic Workplace
- Increase Productivity And Reduce Stress With The S-O-S Principle
- Your Employees and Burnout
- The Psychosocial Risk Factors and Employee Mental Health
- Workplace Wellness: Help Your Teams Picture The Future
- Future Shock
- Take Charge of Change