Managing Change

Change is often regarded as an emotive subject. Many people say that they dislike change, fear change, avoid change. But is that true?

Change is constant. Day changes into night; night changes into day. Spring changes into Summer, which changes into Autumn and so on. No-one seems to be too upset about that, do they? So maybe predictable change isn’t the problem.

It’s also obvious that most people choose to change aspects of their lives and situation on a regular basis. Few people are traumatised by choosing a new car or planning a holiday. Most of us embrace that kind of change willingly. We even move house, renovate our homes, change jobs and/or partners without complaining that we don’t like change!

Of course, all of those examples are changes we control for ourselves. They’re not inflicted on us by someone else. Changes we choose for ourselves aren’t any more of a problem than the predictable changes of one season into the next.

Generally, what make people uncomfortable are the effects of unexpected change initiated by other people. When suddenly the company has a reorganisation or buys another company. When your boss gets promoted and relocates, leaving you without leadership for a while. Or when a whole function is outsourced – changing the relationships between departments and colleagues.

At times like that some people feel insecure or apprehensive. But not everyone.

How you respond to change is largely a matter of habit. It’s also likely to be a factor in how you are regarded by your peers and your bosses.

When change springs up on you, what do you do first? Think of all the positive opportunities that the change brings? Or lament the loss of what used to be?

Many years ago I had a boss, a Store Manager, who told me in the first week I was working with her, ‘Next week we’ll get back to normal’. She said the same at the end of my second week. And the third. And by the time I was moving to my next role some months later, she was still saying, ‘Next week we’ll get back to normal’.

That’s when I realised, there is no NORMAL. Things are changing all the time. We create the illusion of ‘normal’ when we only pay attention to what stays the same. As soon as we start being aware of the shifts and seasons of everyday life, change becomes part of ‘business as usual’. And at that point, the experience of change isn’t an issue.

If you’re comfortable with the experience of change, that brings the freedom to consider how to respond to the change, how to turn it to your advantage, how to get the best form the opportunities.

Contrast that with the people who focus on the discomfort and spend no time thinking about how to respond to the change. So they stay stuck in the discomfort instead of moving on.

The best way to respond to change – is with more change!


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