Managing change needs help!

Have you ever been involved in changes that impact on you – but don’t involve you?

I have too!  And it isn’t pleasant, comfortable or reassuring is it?  One manager at the time told me I was ‘not good with change’.  Well, I am!  I, like everyone else, find changes all through my life, work and personally!  It is something I embrace and always have – I like variety, growth and development – more efficiency, improvements and effectiveness and that is what change is always aiming for isn’t it?Change ahead by mrpuen

But …

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

This is the problem.   I took this quote from another coach’s post and wanted to expand on this really, because being involved in change that will impact you for good or bad really do need to include you!  And by ‘you’ I mean everyone in the company, everyone in the department, service or team – anyone, in fact, that will be impacted (even family and friends because they support you and your employees, they bear the brunt of upset and stress and they rely on each other for security).  And change often requires discomfort and a period of unsettling adjustment that doesn’t help anyone – until the last quarter!

Heuristics, in the context of Nudge theory, refers to the tendency of people to think emotionally and instinctively, rather than rationally and logically, based on a variety of influences.

blue-coffeeHeuristic thinking is a high form of human intelligence for quick instinctive decision-making, but used inappropriately it can cause people to behave in ways that are unhelpful, to themselves and to wider society and the planet as a whole, especially if people are subjected to pressure or manipulation”  Business Balls

– and this is where the problems lie!  Instinct, emotion and primal urges to judge and defend ourselves and our tribe!

And many companies don’t consider this – use SUMO change management concept -“shut up and move on” which I think it quite an insulting expectation of people, and did little to help me when it was offered to me and did a lot to further upset me and make me nervous that changes with great impact on me, my job and family, income and choices would happen regardless of my needs and circumstances!   smileAnd that is usually the case – it is only shared once the fundamental change process is underway having been agreed.  Not really consultation after that is it unless it’s how it’s managed, choices offered and supportive communication provided.

Although I know such models are meant to be helpful and proactive – and help manage the changes -and maybe it does from the leadership team, perhaps, who already know what’s going on – the ins and outs of the change (reasons, outcomes, hopes, expectations, needs to be met) whilst those down the ladder – to the front line and shop floor – have only a titbit of information that is ‘safely’ shared with them!

Now, that again is frightening – holding back information suggests it’s neither acceptable to most or not helpful and will upset people!  I appreciate that changes cannot be shared fully perhaps – but always the truth of the situation and as much as possible that people need to know to feel more comfortable – and supportive – of the changes approaching!

So again, in any change situation – at work, home or socially, country wide or world wide and locally – please

  • ‘Just Talk’ to each other
  • Explain the needs and reasons for the changes
  • Explain as far as possible the outcomes expected
  • The impact projection for each service, department and person to some extent
  • Offer dates for milestones

– start – process development – settling – end (of changes) – growing again

Respect the ‘psychological contract’ with your employees and your team!  It is very important to them and to you – it makes for better relationships, helpful behaviours and attitudes during the change and afterwards when things settle and need to be moved on fairly rapidly.   Put yourself if their shoes – if you didn’t know the outcomes and impact how would you feel about this change situation e.g. when you were first told to set it going, that it was happening soon etc?  Not comfortable, not secure and not wanted initially at least!

Once on board with the reasons and outcomes, the impact on you yourself and your loved ones (Maslow’s hierarchy of need comes into play all through any change and development process!) people will find the positives for them, will find solutions to problems the changes pose for them and work through it positively and proactively – once they know how it will affect them!


Until then, they will worry, fill in the gaps and create problems that might never exist – and create problems for your organisation in terms of managing staff, maintaining productive practices and helpful customer care as well as in team relationship stressors!  So take care of your employees well-being even if the changes will negatively impact them help them understand, find ways around their personal issues with it and protect their mental health here because that is where stress comes from!

Unable to control their own lives and choices

Fill in gaps that will probably enhance dangers and set off alarm bells in our primal defence systems!

Unsettle us to distraction and create unnecessary stress and disharmony thorugh out the organisation.

If you’ve ever been through changes that you know little about – you will definitely agree with all of this and recognise the truths shared here.

Change is usually good but it needs handling well, managing effectively and considerately, and personally proactively with colleagues and teams.