There are more business books out today on change then almost any other topic. Think back. . .what was your workplace like five years ago? Three? How about last year? Stable. . .Calm. . .Tranquil? Most likely, not.
Change is here to stay. And, the only thing that will change change, is that it will accelerate–its rate will continue to increase. Futurists believe that the amount of change to be encountered in the next ten years will be equivalent to the amount of change experienced during the past seventy-five. Think exponentially, not incrementally. Because of technology and communication capabilities, any changes in the future will come up a faster, even explosive pace. You may feel you’re caught in a shock wave.
Change is a unique, and not so unique, process that will invade the rest of your life. Without it, nothing could exist, and life, as present generations currently know it, would cease to exist. Anyone over 30 knows when reflecting back to early childhood that microwaves, computers and VCR’s did not exist then. Those under 30 just assume that they are as common as the cold is.
Without change, you stagnate.
From Non-Shifting to Shift Shaper
I confess, I was one of those employers who dug in her heels when my staff first approached me about getting a word processor in the early eighties. At that time, I lived in high tech land–our homes were surrounded by Apple, IBM, Sun Micro, Intel–all the players and to be birthed players in hard and software. My offices had the latest and greatest versions of what IBM made in typewriters–50 pages of memory, backspace correcting. These marvels ranged from $900 to $3500. I always felt that my secretary’s state-of-the-art typewriter was a fabulous machine–that $3500 model that could remember 50 pages. Looking back, it was pre-historic. So was my attitude.
The Five Stages of Change
Change has five faces. They include,
Resistance–being stubborn and denying the benefits and need of an item, process or concept.Fear is an underlying ingredient when resistance is in play–fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and sometime fear of success.
Skepticism–willing to try, but still doubting the benefit and use of an item, process or concept, clinging to the past.
Adaptation–moving past reluctance and fully accepting that the item, process or concept can be integrated into your personal or professional life.
Shifting–opening up to “what if” scenarios; your transition from being stubborn toshift shaper is almost complete.
Cohesiveness–the ways of the past are the past; your new attitude becomes, “Why didn’t I do this sooner” or “What took me (or my group, team, facility, organization or company) so long to. . .change?” You are ashift-shaper–you can’t understand why others are not on the bandwagon and why they are still resisting change.
Change Creates Chaos
Most don’t jump in and wallow in change. Fear, resistance and denial are normal feelings. Paralysis happens. Change is usually messy. It’s destructive. Things get broken along the way–old beliefs, habits, traditions. Naysayers will issue warnings–slow down (or stop). You tiptoe around, avoid them or try to be nice. You end up carrying baggage that should be dumped.
No matter what you do, toes will be bruised. If you, and your organization, are unwilling to break a few things along the change path, heavy baggage accumulates. Bad habits and sacred cows remain intact. In the end, you sabotage the “could be” generation of events–your future.
Creating an Action Plan
Key questions need to be probed. When change is at your doorstep, ask,
- What is being proposed or implemented?
- How BIG does it feel?
- Does the change match your vision for the organization?
- What factors can you control? Not control? Influence?
- What skills and strengths do you have now that can be used in the process?
- What skills do you have to acquire?
- What attitude adjustments do you have to make?
- How much time will be allowed to implement the change?
- What roadblocks could prevent you from succeeding?
- What’s the incentive for making the change?
After all is said and done, you may decide that you don’t want to master new skills, or that no matter what you do, there are too many roadblocks–yours or from others in the workplace. You may even decide that you may be the wrong fit for the organization, your vision doesn’t match its. Exiting may be in order.
Unless you decide to get a one-way ticket to a dying country, it’s time to belly up to the bar and jump on the change wagon. It’s here; it’s not going away; it’s increasing its pace.
Change. . .it happens. Get over it.