One of the most costly barriers to organizational performance is unresolved issues. Research shows an astounding 95 % of a company’s workforce struggles to speak up to their colleagues about their concerns. As a result, they engage in avoidance tactics including cogitating about issues, complaining, getting angry, doing unnecessary work and avoiding the other person. Organizations can build a “no blame” culture that moves beyond looking at conflict as negative and instead, presents an opportunity to reach resolutions through open communication. Here are some strategies to get started with improved communication skills.
Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor, and expert on change behavior, studies “mindset.” There are 2 types: “In a fixed mindset, people believe basic abilities, intelligence, talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time. In a growth mindset, people understand that talents and abilities can be developed through effort, learning, and persistence.” What if you aren’t wired for a growth mindset in a world of constant change? This article is about what can you do when faced with a change in life or at work.
I recently read an article by Stuart R. Levine, called “What can we learn from the history of change management?” about the organizational change management movement of the 90s. “Prior to the emergence of the formal discipline of change management, most change efforts ignored the people and the culture within an organization. (more…)
Stephanie Buxhoeveden embodies the spirit of Change Thrivers. “Life is going to challenge you at some point. When this happens you have a few choices- deny, cope, or thrive.”
“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
Change can be difficult when you are afraid of the outcome. Past experiences and fears can prevent you from taking control of your behaviors and actions, which you need to do to make successful changes. Major change is never easy or painless, but you can (more…)
As change leaders, you are not immune to the emotional impact of change. To lead others, you must understand the role and importance of resistance, manage your own reactions and overcome your opposition first.
Major change is often accompanied by a great deal of emotion. Negative emotions about change, such as fear, manifest as resistance, while positive emotions energize you towards action. All of your emotions are valid, important, and necessary to the change process, because they provide clues and signals that direct your path through transformation.
The more negatively you view a change, the more you will resist it. But resistance can be a good thing. It is nature’s way of helping you navigate perceived dangerous situations with caution. You have to understand and value the role of resistance in keeping you and those you lead safe—without judging or labeling it.
It is also true that the more you perceive a change as positive, the more excitement and energy you feel towards making the change—even though you might still experience some fear. Positive emotions like hope motivate you and those you lead towards constructive ideas and actions.
The key to mobilizing for change is to transform negative emotions into positive ones by addressing fears and concerns.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions and recognize them as protective, self-preserving signals from your subconscious.
- Accept your emotional reaction to change and give your feelings expression. Expressing your feelings is healthy, as long as it is not at anyone else’s expense. Cry if you are sad, laugh if you are joyous, and scream if you feel frustrated (you may want to consider screaming into a pillow or when you are alone in your car!). Talk to someone you trust or write or “journal” if that is more your style. You need to give yourself the opportunity to release emotional energy before you can get logical and practical about the change.
- Explore the messages your emotions are bringing to you. Ask, “What are my feelings telling me?” Be nonjudgmental and honest with yourself—especially when you examine your negative emotions.
- Write down your hopes as well as your fears and concerns. Things are a lot less scary when they are not whirling aimlessly in your head. Sometimes your fears have no basis in reality, but you can’t see that until you look at them closely.
- Write down your questions about the change and try to find out the answers to as many of them as you can. Remember—less “unknown” means less “fear”!
- Study what you have written. Doubtless, all the outcomes you consider are possible—but which ones are most probable? Identify and focus on those that are likely to happen and let go of the far-fetched concerns for now.
- Prepare yourself the best way you can for the likely outcomes. Control and influence what you can in the process and let go of the rest. There is no point in wasting energy on something you cannot do anything about. Make a transition plan that considers all your options, your support system, and your behavioral response to change.
Human nature seeks the comfort and safety that stability brings us. However, everything in the world is constantly changing, so stability is relative. Of course, not all changes are the same. Some changes are very real to us because of their direct impact on our life. Some do not even attract our attention. Change can be scary when it causes us to experience instability and confusion.
All our lives are is filled with changes—some are minor and incremental, while others are major and transformational. We consider some of these life transitions successful while others have left us beaten. Yet, we have made it through them all. There is no question that we can handle change. After all—what is the alternative?
How we respond to change depends on the kind of change and our own nature and belief system. Reactions can vary based on the frequency, speed, and intensity of changes in our life. The degree of control, our involvement, and the impact of a change in our life are also determining factors in our response.
Working through change is a personal process and often differs for each person. Some people need to talk about it, others may worry about the worst possible outcome, and still others may feel a need to control events. Some individuals want to face changes squarely, while others prefer to bury their heads in the sand as long as possible. People react to change in their own way, but common to all people is the key role emotions play in their response to major life changes. When we face great change, we can expect to feel fear, anxiety, and loss of control. These feelings are natural, human, and—most important—they will pass.
Society and its organizations have traditionally downplayed the importance of emotions. Expressing emotions, except for anger, is often considered a weakness. People are not taught or encouraged to understand and work through their feelings. Most individuals discover early in life that a show of emotions can make them vulnerable, so many learn to hide their feelings from fear of getting hurt.
However, whether we wear our emotions openly or hide them in the closet, they are the force behind many decisions and actions. All life involves emotions; the more significant a moment in life, the more intensely we experience the accompanying emotions. To navigate change successfully, we have to recognize and make space for our feelings and those of other people. We have to keep in mind that emotions are powerful; they give internal directions for growth, survival, and avoidance of pain. Not to feel is not to be alive!
Significant emotional events trigger change because they engage us at the feeling level. When our emotions are engaged, they energize us and encourage our willingness to change.