Let’s be honest, very few people like change. And if we were completely honest, the only times we really like change is when we initiate it. When we work with a group of people and a change is needed, here some points to take in consideration.
1. Change triggers fear
People are creatures of habit. They like their routines and anything that disrupts those routines are viewed with a fearful eye. Change is scary because it represents the unknown. Change takes them to new places and new places can be overwhelming.
People like consistency and they don’t like surprises. Change disrupts that consistency and can lead to all kinds of surprises.
Whenever you go to change something that involves a group of people, you need to keep in mind the level of fear that will be prevalent in this group. One person may be fearful and that fear spread amongst all the others.
2. Change equals loss
Unfortunately, most people associate change with having to give up something. Their natural tendency is to focus on the loss of whatever it is that is being changed instead of focusing on that which is being added to their life.
As mentioned in the point above, change triggers fear. This fear can be linked directly to the loss of something in their lives. The irrational thing about it is that the item doesn’t even have to be one that is beneficial, in fact, it can be something that is holding them back. However, the thought of giving that up can overpower the thought of gaining something better. Hence they keep doing what we are doing and getting what they are getting.
Whatever you are wanting to change, this group will mourn the changed item/process/etc. They will have a hard time viewing it as a positive addition while they are going through the mourning process. Always be sensitive to your group’s grieving.
With this knowledge in hand, how can you better handle change?
1. Sow down
Whenever you want to initiate change, slow down. People can only handle so much at a time. One of the best ways to set yourself up for failure is to change multiple items at a time. People just can’t handle that much emotional change in their lives. Keep in mind that change is viewed in a fearful way, in their eyes it is a loss. When you change multiple items at a time, this overwhelming sense of fear and loss can consume them and they will simply lock up.
Whenever you start changing things, keep it simple and take one thing at a time. Don’t unnecessarily overload your group. By slowing down, you set yourself up to succeed not fail.
2. Over communicate
When changing something, keep people informed. Let them be aware of what is being looked at and why. Don’t make the mistake of springing something new on you group without them having a chance to process it first. When you over communicate, you are repeating and explaining what is going to happen before it is going to happen. You have remember that people will react with strong emotions because of the fear of losing whatever is being changed. They need time to process and they need time to understand what it is you are doing.
Most likley, the change you want to initiate has been tumbling around in your mind for some time. Chances are, your group has not even considered changing whatever you want to change. Over communicating gives your group the chance to catch up with you and hopefully catch your vision too.
3. Involve others
People don’t like things forced upon them and that can lead to resistance. They don’t like being left out in the dark because they fear the dark. When people are left out of the decision making process, many emotions and thoughts can come to light.
Letting them be involved in the discussions taking place before a change gives them a chance to give their input and gives them a chance to take some ownership of the change. When you allow them to take a part in the planning and gain this sense of ownership, they will support your change when you introduce it to others. They will become your cheerleaders and help to show others the benefits involved with your idea.
At a considerable amount of time before you want to launch your change, bring a subsection of your group together and bounce your idea off of them. By doing this, you are honoring your group, respecting their opinions, and validating their emotions. This will go a long way to helping you initiate your change.
What are some ways you have handled change poorly?
What are some ways you have handled change positively?