Through Changing… Then You’re Through

How’s your workplace life been — calm, serene, laid back, tranquil . . . or maybe, a tad hectic? If the latter, the change factor is most likely the creator. You and your career have a choice. Get on the change train, or get run over. You might say, “I’ll leave, get another job . . . or, start my own business.” Either way, you won’t avoid change.

Change — the number one issue in most organizations. It involves identifying what needs to be changed; what process should be used in going through the cycles of change; and what programs and trainings will employees need to participate in to embrace and grow with it.

Organizations come up with all kinds of names and descriptors–reorganization, realigning, repositioning, re _________ (fill in the blank)—whatever the “re” is, you have most likely encountered it throughout your career. If you browse any business section in a bookstore and you’ll discover that books on change and leadership are the bestsellers.

Without Change, You Stagnate
Change is a constant. It’s woven throughout your career and your personal life. When change is in the air, fear, resistance and denial are normal feelings. Change is often destructive; the sacred cows of your workplace can be threatened—those old habits and traditions that are adhere to, whether it is good for you or not. You end up carrying baggage that should be dumped.

Workplace naysayers issue warnings—slow down, management is going to fast, even stop. No matter what you do, some 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 may your future.

It takes courage to embrace change, to thrive with it. Without change, your creativity is stifled, your growth is stunted and great ideas and concepts will die. Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

There are two major contributors to resisting change. First, management fails to clearly communicate the goals, the purpose, and the vision behind the change. And second, it fails to either get input from employees within the organization or asks for it, then totally ignores it.

Change rarely occurs overnight, there are critical steps in the process. Start with:

Understanding what the proposed change is. If unclear, ask for clarity. This is the single biggest reason most changes get sabotaged—it was never clearly communicated.

Whenever change is in play, clear communication is a must.
Use common words to convey new and uncommon ideas, things
and events. If you have a crossword vocabulary, this is not
the time to use it. Keep communications simple.

How big does it feel? Is that something minor, or does it feel or sound like a major restructuring based on your own experiences? Is it a “10” or is it a “2”?

Is the proposed change something that you see as a “match” for your beliefs and what the organization should be? If you won’t be comfortable, get out now—if the company is going to make widgets and you personally feel that they are destroying the environment, this is not a fit.

Ask—what factors can you control, influence and not control? Too often, people grumble and complain about things that they can give no input to—focus on what you can influence or control—skip things you can’t control, you are wasting your time and energy (and others).

What skills and strengths do you have now that can be used in through the change process? Do an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Communicate skills that are assets to your manager or supervisor and how they can be used during the course of the change.

Determine what skills you need to acquire. In the workplace today, anyone who is not savvy enough to do the basics on a computer or make use of the Internet is in trouble. Solution—hire any kid over eight. He or she will tap dance over the keyboard and open up a fabulous world in information. Or, you can enroll in a class. Either way, just do it.

How much time will be allowed to implement the change? You can have all the skills that will enhance the change in progress, but if you are clueless to a timeframe, you may miss the opportunity to use them.

What roadblocks could prevent you from succeeding? Are there sacred cows in the way? Is there anyone within the team withholding information that would enable the process to proceed and succeed? Could you be dragging your heels?

What’s the incentive for making the change? Always a good question—what’s in it for you?
Change is here for 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 childhood that computers, VCR’s, DVDs, email and text messaging did not exist. Those under 30 just assume that they are as common as a cold.

There will always be risk and costs to change. There are more hazards and risks to your career and workplace when stagnation is allowed. Change, it happens.

Woman of Distinction – 2004
It was with great honor that Judith accepted the 2004 Woman of Distinction award in June from the Girl Scouts. Beginning with a beautiful reception on the 15th—several events are planned through the fall honoring all the fantastic recipients of this designation. What a great group to belong to. Being a Brownie and a Girl Scout from the ages of 7 to 11, it is always a pleasure to give back to so many.

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