I will be the first one to admit that I LOVE CHANGE! What is really fun, is that what I do for a living is all about helping clients navigate through change. Change is hard and uncomfortable because we often don’t know what to expect or how it is going to impact us. But change is necessary – we see it every day in the world around us. Those organizations that don’t change or don’t change fast enough are left behind and the pace of change gets faster every day. I guess if I have a choice, I would rather be part of an organization that embraces change than not and I assume you would too. So, let’s start with the notion that change is here to stay and we must deal with it and maybe even embrace it!
An article in HBR, “How to Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence” caught my eye because I felt like it was speaking directly to my clients. Here is the opening line – “Have you ever reacted to organizational change by rolling your eyes (yep, I know a lot of eye rollers 😊) and quietly saying to yourself, “Here we go again?”. The struggle I have is that when I recognize that behavior in my client organizations, I know it spells trouble. If your organization is playing basketball today and decides to move to soccer, you better figure out how to play soccer or you will be left behind. And the sooner you recognize this reality the better off you will be. Most of our work is helping Sourcing / Supply Chain organizations move from transactional to strategic (from Purchasing to Strategic Sourcing to Category Management) and that requires a tremendous amount of change for both the employees within the Procurement organization and their stakeholders. We ALWAYS find individuals on both sides that are resistant to the change and it can be very damaging to them personally, their career and their organization. Much of the work we do for our clients is to help lead them through the change by identifying those pockets of resistance and work with them to break through that resistance. If you are one of those individuals that has difficulty embracing change, here are a few helpful hints from the article:
- Identify the source of your resistance – If you don’t know where your resistance is coming from it will be difficult to manage it.
- Question the basis of your emotional response – Your response may be based on perception not facts – separating emotional reaction from actual events will help you to take control of what is happening to you and create new opportunities.
- Own your part in the situation – Own your attitude and behavior. “By reflecting on how your initial reaction contributes to a negative chain of events, it will be easier to adjust your attitude to be more open to considering new perspectives . . . “
- Turn up your positive outlook – Change your attitude to be more positive. Look for the opportunities as opposed to the down side of the change.
Here is the bottom line – change ALWAYS presents new opportunities! If you can highlight those opportunities for each individual impacted by the change and the organization as a whole, your life will be much easier as you are working through the change. It will take some individuals longer than others and some may never get there, but the change will fail unless you get people on board or move them out of the way. As a leader, your role will be to help those that are uncomfortable with change get through it. There is nothing more satisfying as a manager or an advisor to see someone move from resistor to supporter. If you, yourself can easily adapt to change and help others do it as well, it can often be a competitive advantage for you as a leader. Remember that change is hard but don’t fight it, embrace it!