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Coping with Change

by Andrea Balahoski

Change: Recognize the Challenges and Dive In

Change is difficult for most. And why shouldn’t it be? We’re all hard-wired to like certainty in most situations. We prefer our usual morning routine, and going to the office where we work in our normal workspace with the same colleagues surrounding us. I’d even guess that most of us prefer to park in the same parking spot and travel the same route home at the end of the day. Change can heighten the feeling of uncertainty, so it’s ironic that change is one of the only things we can be certain will continue to occur.

It’s no secret that our company, like so many others, has seen its fair share of change, constantly evolving and molding to fit the needs of our clients in an ever-changing industry. We pride ourselves in being able to adapt with agility, but managing change can be a major challenge. Here are a few tips to help manage the human elements during times of change.

Identify the feeling of fear and decide if it’s legitimate or just your reaction.

Fear plays a significant role during change. The limbic system, where fear arises, is a very basic part of our brains. It responds to uncertainty with a knee-jerk fear reaction and fear inhibits good decision making. Those who are able to quickly identify this fear feeling and evaluate its legitimacy are better able to appropriately manage their behavior. Once you’re able to deal with the fear response to change, decision making will naturally become less emotional and more reasoned.

Expect failures and roadblocks, and more importantly, allow for them.

We can plan for weeks before a change is implemented and still have unforeseen events occur and mistakes happen. We’re all human and practicing something new, especially if on a large scale, takes time and patience. Pointing the finger at others or grabbing onto mistakes to feed your grumbling nature isn’t going to help anyone. Instead, look for a way to help resolve the issue or get the project or new process back on course. There are often valuable lessons that are learned in mistakes and roadblocks. Using those to redirect the path to success is what really matters and will have a lasting impact.

Keep a positive perspective, even when it’s difficult.

When change occurs, it will inevitably leave some people feeling upset, angry, and even resentful. Steer clear of the gossip circle and negativity! If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who’s resistant to a new process or initiative, try offering a positive perspective on the situation, or suggest that they bring their concerns to the source. If that doesn’t help, politely remove yourself from the conversation and most importantly, do not continue to feed the negativity by passing it on to others. In our company, change is never implemented to intentionally sabotage anyone or anything. Keeping a mindset that continuously assumes positive intent, even when the going gets tough, will help you keep perspective.

Appropriately managed change starts with a lot of forethought and planning. Once that part is complete, dive in! Procrastinating or avoiding a needed change will not make it go away. Change is actually scarier when you stand still. There’s something about being part of the process in helping it move forward that can give you some semblance of control. Keep in mind that without change, we will never give ourselves the opportunity to improve, explore, or grow. Having this mindset from the beginning will set you and your company up for success during any change.

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