Because of my extensive work on change management initiatives, I see behavioral parallels between what happens when we reorganize at work, with what we are seeing during the current crisis.
Here we are… in the middle of a global pandemic and forced to alter our lives - from leaving our daily work commutes aside to singing birthday songs 50 times a day as part of our hygiene routines.
Few of us have adapted with ease, quick to grasp the implications of not changing and in many instances embraced this as a new challenge. Some went into a panic led by fear of the unknown and took control of what they could (taking the toilet paper industry to heights no one could have ever predicted!). Others are reacting in their own ways, and so on….
In business, change initiatives generate similar reactions. There is the handful of change agents who are more than ready to champion a better state for the business on the one hand; and on the other, you have the antagonists who have no issues defying every step needed to get there. And somewhere in between there is the fearful bunch who freeze in agony of what’s about to happen to them.…
As someone who loves change - maybe a little too much, I won’t lie - I find it hard to relate to folks who can convince themselves that ‘adequate is good enough’ when there’s an opportunity to make it great. But I am also aware that expecting anyone to simply follow an idea for change is unrealistic — leaders have to be empathetic to those who may be opposed to or fear a break in routine. They have to clearly articulate the value proposition for their teams and they have to design a very well thought-through and agile execution plan that has been developed considering everyone’s input.
In today’s pandemic, we’ve gone as far as naming & shaming those who have refused to change because we know how important the experts’ advice is. When leaders and experts tell us we need to make change for our collective good, it would be helpful to at a minimum assume good intent, keep an open-mind and listen to what their cause is. Even more helpful is to ask, and answer, as many questions as it takes to afford a healthy conversation which will help ensure we are on the same page.
We will get back to our offices at some point when this is over. Let’s remember how positive our change efforts during today’s crisis have been and will be for the good of everyone around us. And next time an opportunity to change comes up in our professional lives, let’s all be open to giving it a shot. Nothing wrong with a little healthy skepticism, but if the outcome is good for us all, why not be open and try?
Damla Zeybel - CEO - ARYA-Effective
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