Throughout our careers, nothing will have any greater impact on us than change. For most, we enjoy the security of routine and the known boundaries in which we operate. Let’s begin to look at the 4 steps to managing change and dealing with uncertainty in a positive way.
Change can have substantial effects across so many fundamental levels.
- It can weaken our self-confidence and self-efficacy
- It can challenge our productivity at work
- Create baseless fears and concerns
- Can add stress between individuals and teams
- Can be daunting in the face of new knowledge and systems
So are there factors that can help guide through the process of change? Is there a plan or blueprint that can better support and implement change?
The initial shock
You are moving through the day into the flow of work, maybe you have heard rumours of a change being implemented. A department being cut or merged with another, perhaps. Nothing has been confirmed, everyone is in the dark, then suddenly it is all announced with immediate effect. Most will feel shock and confusion, worry and concern. Questions will be raised about your position, the impact on the business, the new knowledge that you may be challenged to learn. This is the first stage of change.
The second stage begins to take effect. The shock has weakened, and the news is clear. Change has happened and is there in front of you. You don’t know why it had to happen, you question the logic of it, and the more you pull the decision apart the angrier you get. It just doesn’t make sense? This is the stage where your defensive retaliation to the initial shock is at its highest. You tend to band together with colleagues who agree with your position. All you can see are the difficulties. This is stage 2.
Just feels wrong
The uncomfortable stage begins to settle in. You are unhappy and feel awkward, unsure of what you are supposed to be doing. Of where the company is headed.
You sort of understand the advantages, yet remain unconvinced. Others are quick to point out faults and everyone is at their lowest point of morale. This is stage 3.
Slowly but surely
Time has now passed and things are starting to make sense. You can see the real advantages of why the change was implemented. This includes new skills that the change has brought to the business.
The progress forward seems heavy and slow, yet there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. This is stage 4.
How could this have been easier? What was missing? In each of these stages the key was the lack of communication.
In the first stage, a clear and united meeting should have been held to present the change, the impact and the benefits. Reassurances should have been given. At stage 2 team meetings should have been instigated to discuss issues and individual concerns. At stage 3 it is all about 1-2-1 and goal setting, action planning and clear objectives.