Most folks will tell you that change is good; that new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking and new ways of viewing the business environment are all for the good. And then they pat themselves on the back as forward-thinking examples of the modern age.
But how about when those very same changes affect them? When their pattern of activity is disrupted? When what they were comfortable with now becomes alien to them? When the advantage of the knowledge they once had is gone, and they have to learn again? When their advantage over other employees disappears as everyone is changing at the same time?
What about when their feelings of self-confidence, of superiority in some cases, are dashed?
Then perhaps they might not feel so warm and fuzzy about change.
That's just how it is with the human condition.
When Change Occurs
Imagine if you will the manager / leader / boss who sits comfortably within their world-at-work, their office (or wherever) environment. They've been around the block several times so they know how things work. They know the policies, the procedures and even all the right players that they have to deal with. They can answer most any question that comes their way, or can at least bluff their way through. When problems arise they can choose to either deal with it or kick the can down the road.
Self confidence is the hallmark of their work persona, in that they feel that they're sitting on top of their work world - and they like the view.
Then suddenly the planet shifts on its axis. Word comes down from above that a major new program is going to be implemented, utilizing new technologies, new forms and procedures and a whole new way of thinking. Policies will be changing and leadership expectations are suddenly going in a whole new direction.
Oops. Now your world has been rocked, because now you face a learning curve similar to that faced by many of your peers and colleagues. Now you no longer have the answers, but are left with a series of questions - like everyone else.
Now your self confidence has been shaken, your warm bubble of comfort shattered.
Perhaps you go through a step process of bafflement, anger, denial, resentment, and then what? Baying at the moon isn't going to help, so you'd better get your new act together.
Dealing With the Dark Days
First off, I never recommend keeping your head in the sand and hoping that the bad dream goes away. Or to play the passive resistance card (lukewarm interest and support, all while keeping your fingers crossed). Good leaders don't go there.
What I suggest is that you embrace the change, as best you can.
- First onto the boat gets to pick the seat, so an early and visible advocate gets to be seen as such and able to position themselves well going into the future. You also get to present yourself as still in leadership mode, this time leading the charge into the unknown. "Come on, follow me!" Good management technique.
- Let's face it though, learning new techniques, new technologies, the cutting edge of anything can serve you well in your career. So you have to deal with a short (?) period of uncertainty, but likely you'll come out ahead when the changes are implemented. Otherwise, being seen as a legacy player has limited appeal to your senior management - who are watching.
- A corollary to the above is that, by throwing your weight behind the change you position yourself well politically (like that's not important?). Early supporters of new initiatives get noticed and remembered by executives pushing those changes. Not a bad thing for you.
- Even if the change doesn't work out as planned (when does it ever?), there's likely little downside for you to have played along as a team player. When the dust settles and the score is counted it's usually the passive resisters and active critics who are remembered in a negative sense. Senior managers have memories too.
Someone once said, "The only thing that's constant is change," or words to that affect. Which means that sitting on your bum for too long can be harmful to your professional career.
I do agree that change can be a pain in that bum, and usually inconvenient to many of the affected. But we need positive and constructive change to progress as a business, as a society, and as an individual.
It's going to happen with or without you. Let's make it happen with you.
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image,"Big Changes Are Underway," by milena mihaylove