Change! That seems to be the word of the month! Everything around me is
about change. The weather is changing as we head into winter, my relationships are changing, my horse life is undergoing some changes, heck I am even studying Organizational Change Management this term in school. Life is always change, but right now it seems to be more than usual. So the topic is on my mind a lot.
Even work is about change. I have a client who is making radical changes in their organization and I feel very responsible for getting it right this time. I always want my clients to succeed, but for some reason this group has gotten closer to my heart than most. I want to do anything I can to prevent them from crashing and burning. We’ll see at the end of the day if my leadership can overcome some of their long standing challenges or not.
Like any firm change in their organization is scary. For many it is going to mean radically changing how they think and behave. Some will gain control, others will lose it but at the end of the day the changes they are going for are needed, and they have the right plan in place. Unfortunately that alone is never enough.
For many people and organizations good intentions, a great plan and the desire for the outcome are still not enough to overcome years of stasis and what is perceived as fear of change. Notice I say perceived as fear of change. I am starting to rethink my stance of fear of change. From watching my own life, I am beginning to think we don’t fear the change or how things will be different. Instead, we fear the unknown of it all. That what separates changes that can be easily embraced, and those that never happen, is how we prepare for them. It’s time we all start talking about change a lot more and a lot sooner.
I learned this week that a major change was coming with one of my horses. I had suspected it for a while, but no one had said anything. I had heard speculation, but had no facts. And I’ll admit it. I was nervous, I was worried, and I was unsure what would come next. But then I was told. I was given facts of what was coming up. I was allowed to ask questions about how it would impact me and my horse. And immediately it was all easy. I have always known for me that information is comforting. But that conversation helped me see it more as a Change Leadership professional than ever before.
In total clarity I realized that the changes that work, the ones that succeed, are those where companies communicate. Change is easy when the future is shared, when expectations are clearly stated, when change is not hidden in a conference room and in committees but where everyone knows what is coming and most importantly why.
I am really proud of my current client. They are doing the hard, and somewhat expensive, work of sharing the message of what is coming. They have created a marketing campaign, they have put together a newsletter, the President has gone in person to each office to share information and to meet one-on-one with those who may struggle with the change. They are doing it right. I really believe if I can keep them sharing the message and talking to each other this project will be a success. I look back on those that failed and can now see that they tried to execute change in a vacuum. They didn’t feel others needed to know until the change was happening. But by then it was too late.
Change for many people is like walking into a haunted house attraction. We have a general sense of what we will encounter but are given very little information. We walk forward tentatively. We are tense. We try desperately to hold on to something or someone familiar. We startle and spook at the smallest sounds or sense. Have you ever walked through a haunted house with the lights turned on? No one screams, no one jumps, we laugh at the grapes posing as eyeballs and the catsup blood. Because we know what it is and what is coming. Information prior to change is like turning on the lights. The mummies all of a sudden are powerless and we chase them.
Knowing what is around the corner takes all the fear out of turning the corner!