Friday, August 26, 2011

The Power of Change

I read a quote from an unknown author that read, “the only people that loves change, is a wet baby.”  Do you agree with that quote?
How many of us can truly say that we love change?  If so, what sort of change do we love?  The majority of people love and embrace change that impacts them in a positive way.  But, what about change that impact us in a way that seems, less than positive?  Do we embrace it, accept it, or blame others for the change? 

Even though we may not recognize or give much thought to it, changes occur in our lives constantly.  We grow older, learn and develop, both personally and professionally.  Relationships changes, family dynamics, our surroundings may change, friends, peers, careers, and our health and wellness may change as well.  Some changes occur because we initiated the change, others occur because they were forced upon us.  Whether change had a positive or negative impact, we have to adjust to the change and use it to our benefit.  In either case, we have to accept and embrace the change regardless of the impact.  The past is just that, the past.  Our focus should be directed toward building the future. 

As individuals change personally and professionally, organizations change as well.  No matter what industry you work for, all organizations change constantly.  Organizations have to change in order to remain relevant.  Some changes are based on an immediate need; others are based on forecasting what the future may look like, and then adapting to it.  Many factors are considered during strategic planning.  Some changes are due to competition, changing customer needs and habits, laws and legislation, government regulation, census changes, and a host of other indirectly related changes that impacts business operations.  Changes are needed for organizational survival.  Below are some examples of organizational changes.

  • Mission and focus changes
  • Strategy changes
  • Operational changes
  • Technological changes
  • Staff changes
  • Attitudes and behaviors changes

In order to implement the first four changes above, it may require some significant changes to the latter two.  An organization consists of people.  They bring the talent, skills, experience and abilities that help us reach and exceed our intended goals and objectives.  It is also their presence and behaviors that represent the public image of the organization to our customers.  Attitudes and behaviors of staff should be consistent with the organization’s culture.  Holding all employees accountable to cultural norms and expectations are essential in achieving the first four changes noted above.  Since employees really make things happen by carrying out the mission and goals of the organization, how we prepare them for any significant change becomes critical?

What about individual changes on a small-scale basis that happens daily?  These changes could be due to behavior or performance issues.  If you worked with employee relations long enough, you would be familiar with the terminology “conspiracy theory.”  The conspiracy theory is the notion that a group of people has collaborated in opposition to you.  Therefore, they have created the negative impact of the change.  Although the conspiracy theory is possible, in most cases they are highly unlikely.   

As leaders, how we interact with staff can dramatically effect outcomes.  Often times, it is not the actual message but how the message was delivered.  It’s a skill set that we can build upon.  Leaders have the ability to help staff move forward in situations where change has resulted in a negative impact.  How?  It is really based on the leaders influence and relationship prior to the change.  A leader who has effectively develop the skills sets to influence staff are more successful in their efforts Vs a leader who lacks credibility. 

A vital part of accepting and embracing change is the acceptance of positive feedback as well as opportunities for improvement.  Whether we initiated the change or it was forced upon us, it is important that we accept it in a positive way.  It enables us to move forward and we recover at a much faster rate.  It can test our strength and durability.  Change is uncertain and in any significant organization change, the strength of good leaders will surface, new leaders will emerge and weak leaders will be highlighted.  Effectively leading a change initiative is a skill worth pursuing. 

If you have yet to experience the power that changes presents, you will.  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.  The real difference will depend on how you choose to deal with it.  You can embrace it in a positive way, by leading the change efforts and influencing others, accept it, by acknowledging and implementing the change, or reject it, by leaving the organization and not poisoning or sabotaging the change efforts. 

The message is quite clear.  You can create the change or be the change.  You do not have the ability to stop it.  It is more powerful than you or I. 

Embrace it, accept it, or move out of the way. 

~ Joseph Conrod Sr.

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