I often struggle with the concept of people not coping with change. Change happens all day, every day around us, yet it is one of the most terrifying and mis-understood behaviours people seem to cope with. I have never liked change just dumped on me and when every time an unexpected change of event happened, I had to go through a process of thinking about the outcome and then plan for the control to be taken back (not the preferred outcome). Usually, I would want to be in control of the situation, but when a sudden change occurred and my routine and schedule was thrown in the air, I became anxious and stressed. Sound familiar?
It wasn't until I worked in Sumatra Indonesia, that I had to adapt and become resilient to change. Every day would be a different day and change was part of the job. How did I cope? My plans were non existent, useless and the organised chaotic lifestyle pushed me back to a self 'hard knox' lesson of fast change - learning to problem solve on the spot, no direction, sympathy or support and relying partly on instinct and part knowledge to push forward. Over time, change meant nothing to me and you quickly understand life in that moment has a daily ebb and flow effect, where nothing surprises you any longer and you embrace the adventure and possibility of making the change happen, not what could happen and stressing over the potential outcome.
Coming back to Australia for work, I have noticed this habit of change is still a very scary word and many people find it hard to fully accept. I was that person over 10 years ago, but today, change makes up my personality and who I am. Change is exciting! It challenges our values and purpose, it trains us to problem solve quickly and also makes us understand what is important and what is lesser.
So how do we encourage our friends, family and team members to cope with change ? First we need to define what is so terrifying and what is making this a negative journey.
Has a bad experience with change management happened previously? If yes, then what was the negative interaction? If no, then change is the excuse and the actual issue is still to be defined and addressed.
Support...Did you have support to help you transition into a change culture? Has your employer ever assisted you with this change management process? If not, then it is your responsibility to request this and acknowledge you may take time to understand change in the workplace.
Maybe it is trust? Not allowing yourself to trust new change is often exhausting both emotionally and physically. You can invest, encourage and support change processes in someone to for the greater good, but unless they trust themselves, along with the concept and the person/leader who champions change, then it can be a difficult and time consuming process.
Don't allow yourself to go into crash mode! Think about the opportunity and the new adventure that comes with change in both a negative and positive environment!
My Top 5 change tips include the following:
1. Allow yourself to accept change as part of your life. If you do not allow change to start with yourself, then someone else will force this upon you.
2. Practice change within your own environment. Condition yourself to make 1x change a week in your lifestyle. This will help you accept sudden unexpected decisions and you will start to proactively work through a change management process without even thinking twice!
3. Allow yourself to understand change. Be open to learning how change can fit into your lifestyle. Read success stories and process what you may be open to work with. Defining your change boundaries is a good start and taking the leap of understanding will help you transform your thought process from being risk adverse to a risk taker.
4. Ask your employer to change a part of your career and give yourself a challenge. You have the opportunity to make decisions and learn change management by project managing! Owning your own project will enable you to make various changes and also train others in the process. Nothing remains the same forever when it comes to project management.
5. Coaching and mentoring. If change makes you anxious, stressed and even negatively impacts your health and well being, then there are many support channels that can help you deal with change in your environment. I strongly recommend it and would never force yourself to accept any change which has negative side affects, as it can really impact your decision making processes into the future and quality of your emotional well being.
Next time you hear the word 'change', please don't cringe! Embrace change as an opportunity that has your name all over it. Take it by the reins and make it your own. Nothing is impossible Sistas! Change is natural and progressive if you allow it to be. Start to trust yourself and then open yourself up to the new and exciting adventures ahead.