Change it just keeps coming. Boy never has that phrase been more relevant?! I first came across the phrase when watching a video(yes it was a video at the time) Who Moved My Cheese https://www.youtube.com/watch? I’ve used this resource in my training ever since because whilst it may be a little dated and yes more than a bit American everyone relates to it. I’m sure we can all see ourselves in one of the characters. Whether it’s one of the human characters at the beginning or the cartoon characters in the main story. Spotting how we react when change just keeps on coming is the 1st step to dealing with it. Spotting how others react and deal with change is probably as leaders even more important. The speed at which we move on and accept change and make it work for the business is often down to how well you spot where your people are at and help smooth that path for them
Stages of Change – common to us all
It’s normal for everyone to deal with change in the initial stages by denying its happening. We have all been there. Heard ourselves saying (either out loud or internally) it won’t happen, this is just a big fuss over nothing( I think I thought that about Covid at first), it will go away, tomorrow you’ll see it will all be fine. Some people may react by ‘not seen that email’ or ‘I didn’t hear that mentioned in the meeting’ maybe even ‘it wasn’t in the minutes’ (ie therefore it didn’t happen)! These are all classic signs of denial of impending change. They can even happen when you have included individuals in pre talks because part of the denial is not hearing what the message was or not taking it on because ‘it will never happen’!
This can take many forms from self doubt and blame to blaming others (if the Covid pandemic has taught us anything its that there are endless places to lay the blame)whether that’s another country, department, colleague, age group it doesn’t matter finding someone to blame, even if it is in the form of doubting ourselves is a part of going through the ‘change curve’. This is part of how we deal with the uncertainty and confusion, it’s a way of ‘shifting the s**t.
The importance of the first two stages is to support people through this, listen, given them time. Importantly get them to talk. At this point, they are clinging on to the past in the hope that if they deny it or find a reason why it’s not their fault (or if it is what they can do to put it right) it will go away
Don’t despair eventually we all move on!
As sure as eggs is eggs one thing that happens with change is we move on. Yes, we all do this at a different pace. Helping people with deadlines and progressive language i.e next time we sit down we will look at the future/next steps/moving forward. Starting to talk about the future and paint a future picture really does help people to move forward. Making sure your language is confident about the future benefits of the change ie ‘things will move faster when, the product will be more robust, the time we will save’ etc So let’s carry on looking at the stages of change common to us all.
Now we are starting to rationalise what’s happening, make sense, accept it and beginning to feel more comfortable. We are looking to the future. It may not seem like it but this is when people most need support and direction. Positive reinforcement of where they are going, what they are doing. Where they are getting it right. Making sure that feedback is specific clearly acknowledging exactly what was ‘great’ about what they did rather than just some throwaway ‘great job’ be specific! Great leaders continue to paint that picture and hold hands. Share the journey walkthrough and explore options.
Problem solve :
That’s really what exploring options is about. Some people will naturally be problem solvers others less so. Understanding how your individual’s approach problem solving including by the way checking they are solving the right problem is key for managers to understand. Problem solving can take time and often requires a different mindset/approach. Some team members will problem solve better in a group with paper pens/wipe board or mac book others will need to go off and research, read, find out what others are doing again the important thing is understanding although the approach may be different it’s about what’s right for that person to get the best result. The more skilled your managers are at letting people have their heads when it comes to problem solving the better solutions your business will achieve. I think this is really important because change it just keeps coming! A number of IT businesses have specific days/times when all their people are doing is problem solving future problems. So things they don’t even know exist. That’s certainly a way of circumventing the timeline on the change curve?
Now, this should be the easiest part of the change process. And for those who have embraced the change, got on board and run with it (maybe slower than you would have liked) this is the best bit. They are feeling or at least seeing the benefits and if there aren’t any accepting the change is needed. There will however be those who don’t so moving on may literally mean moving on. Business managers can’t be afraid to implement change because people won’t embrace it. if it’s right for the business then the change should happen. Yes, great communication and support in the process will help get people on board but it’s not possible in every case. If you have watched the video link at the beginning you will know some people will just continue to ‘haw’ and not move with the cheese. you know what sometimes that’s the best thing for them.
Remembering to keep celebrating the wins and progress with stakeholders will keep the passion for the change alive and help stop people from regressing back to denial and doubt. The reality is though that change is rarely a straight path there will be bumps in the road.
Change it just keeps coming:
My belief is that because this statement is so true investing in your team and managers to ensure they are equipped to deal with it is essential. My 5 stage management development programme will help your managers manage change as well as support them in developing into strong leaders for a brief outline of how we can help click here https://lifeworksconsulting.co.uk/services/
Here’s an article I thought might interest you from Insights Discoveries. I have been a practitioner for Insights for over 20 years so I am always keen to share their thoughts on topics. https://www.insights.com/resources/coaching-people-through-the-change-curve/