After the events of the past year, you realize that life is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Especially now, as businesses go through the pandemic, consider all the electronic devices and systems that have become integral and essential to our lives. Phone, tablet, computer, social media, digital conversations, audio and video conferences – they’ve all changed. People have had to adjust more, learn more, than ever before. Businesses that didn’t explore the digital side of communication realized the immediate need to do so now. The choice was either to get digitally savvy, or risk losing a business! At the same time, some of the ideas and habits of the past that we let go, suddenly became important again. Family time. Time to read. Time to explore the outdoors. In a matter of months, your life changed.
This drastic change affected both our personal and work life. While this change affects all of us physically and mentally, it also demonstrates for us how our work environment is also increasingly affected by change. At one time, businesses lived by “Five-Year Plans.” Not anymore. While a plan is still as important as it was in the past, we also must recognize that organizations change, and plan for change. Companies are required to be nimble. While the degree of change may vary, no doubt, change is constant.
If that’s true, how do we live in a world of constant change? How do we learn to manage change? Is it possible to keep some semblance of control within our work environment, even in these times? The answer is yes, but our mindset must take on a couple of challenges: 1) that we need to be capable of change, and 2) that we need to meet the challenge by staying effective and productive.
Working our way through change. Change happens quickly. The year of the pandemic is the perfect example. There are no longer plateaus of stability. Instead, most of us experience a continual, never-ending series of changes, and challenges. How can we work together to manage these changes that are ever present? Here are some of the guidelines we can use.
Start by being honest. Be honest with yourself and your co-workers – more change lies ahead! In truth, most people reject change – so our job is to change the mindset of those around us. Honesty helps to build trust with employees. Another way to build trust is to solicit input when considering change. Once you engage others, you have partners.
Change often leads to innovation. A certain amount of stress brought on by change is good for us because it makes us grow and learn. Change always brings opportunity. The trick is to inspire others by empowering them. Think differently. No idea is a bad one. Engaging people in change usually results in a higher adoption rate. And change is often the basis for new opportunities for employees.
Understand that there are unchartered territories. In facilitating the change process, we need to understand that everyone’s job now is to succeed in unfamiliar environments. We have to learn to live in uncertain times. As we’ve learned this past year, that might mean a new job direction, new skills or new behaviors. Showing others how to have real conversations about important issues will build trust. How do we need to change in order to address the challenges we’re having? Accepting uncertainty and moving forward is key.
Solve the right problems. If the change is going to be effective and create the desired result, we need to make sure we’re looking at the right problem. Some things are not under our control. We need to look at the problem and decide if it no longer exists, can’t be solved or isn’t the problem with the highest priority.
Change has to come from the top down. Everyone must be effectively engaged in the change process. They must invest in the change and contribute to its success. The process of involving everyone may mean more conversations, planned workshops, regular meetings and constant communication. It may take some convincing, but planned well, any change that involves everyone is more likely to “stick” and be effective.
Communicate and support. The individuals and teams leading the change process must be supported through coaching, education and facilitation. Communication must be active and planned. A healthy sense of urgency is good but being rushed will build distrust.
To succeed today, businesses need to think of their workplace as one of continuous movement. How can we work differently? How have our customers changed? Is there something we can do to make the business more enticing to our customers? The more agile we are, the more likely we will act on opportunities and grow.
Do you need help facilitating change in your organization? We’d love to work with you. Visit our website at www.baharconsulting.com, or give us a call at 240-242-3349.