May 25, 2017

Change is Not Always Difficult

This is relevant whether you are in a small mom and pop office or large business.  In corporate life, at least, change is not only the ‘only constant’ but it is also frequently a thorn in one’s side! You know that it is necessary, but how are you going to get people to go along with it and welcome it? The underlying assumption is that people are going to resist it. So it is necessary to design change management programs with touchy-feely content as well as the hard systems and physical changes.

However, there are situations where people adapt remarkably quickly, without ‘help’. For example, when you join a new company, they have a way of doing things that is undoubtedly different from the way you have been used to. But what do you do? You do your best to adapt to this foreign method of doing things. Whatever thoughts you may have had during the first few days about the oddness of the place are very soon displaced in your desire to become a useful part of your new environment. In the process, you have made all sorts of changes to yourself without pain: you have a cup of coffee at 10 AM, not as soon as you get in to work; you attend meetings that run into lunch, where before you had a strict lunch break; you complete your meeting notes the day of the meeting, instead of the day before the next one. And that’s just the small stuff. Now you are working for a new boss, with new colleagues and new people to get to know. These same changes could happen if you were already an employee and the organization simply ‘reorganized’. In this case would your actions and reactions be the same? Probably not!

So what is the difference that makes change easy in one situation but not in another? Surely it is in the mind of the individual. In one situation they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. In the other they might come out worse off. In the first case, they made the decision for themselves and had worked out in advance what it was worth to them. In the second case, the decision was made for them and the reasons for the change did not specifically have their personal interest in mind. The instigators of the change were looking for benefits to the organization, not to individuals. The first is self-centered; the latter is organization-centered. Being a part in the machine is fine when we’re a ‘big wheel’ but not so fine when you are a smaller one that may have to whirl faster.

The fear of loss is greater than the fear of gain. When there is nothing to lose, change is not a problem

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