SIX STEPS TO BETTER CHANGE MANAGEMENT
In a theology class at a major university a professor told her students that each week they would study a different piece of ancient text. On Monday, the professor would give her interpretation of the text, and on Wednesday, one of the students would give their interpretation of the same text.The professor would then drill the student unmercifully. Students began to panic with the thought of being chosen. One Monday the professor presented her ideas and thoughts on the weekly text assignment. One of the students, Joe, took copious notes. On Wednesday Joe was called on to discuss the text. Joe presented the exact same interpretation on Wednesday as the professor had given on Monday. When Joe was finished the professor stood up and said, “That is the worst interpretation of this passage that I have ever heard!” Joe was bewildered. He said, “How could my interpretation be so bad? It was exactly the same as yours was on Monday.” “Yes,” said the professor, “but I have changed since Monday. I have grown.”
To be competitive today we cannot continue to do things the way we did them last year, last month, and in some cases, last Monday. Scientists have shown that our universe is constantly expanding. If the universe in which we live is growing, expanding, and changing, it would be naive to think that we can just sit still. Change is the essence of progress. Not only must we change to progress, but because so much is changing around us, we must change just to maintain.
So, we know that we need to change and change at a more rapid pace. The question becomes, how do we face change? How do we deal with change and use it as an ally? Below are six steps that will help you better manage the changes that are thrust upon you, and also help you create your own changes that will lead to significant growth and achievement.
Expand Your Knowledge Base
One reason that so many people have difficulties with change is fear. We fear the unknown. We fear what we are not familiar with. It is only natural to want to continue to do what we have always done. To address our fears it is critical to strive for continual education. As we learn and grow we will be best able to face our fears and try new things.
My daughter, Allison, loves to play soccer. At first she was reluctant to play with some of the older girls. After several weeks of soccer camp and intense training Allison developed excellent skills. Once Allison realized how proficient she was, Allison was willing to try competing against girls that were several years older then her.
By expanding your knowledge base you will gain new skills and techniques. You will naturally find applications for these skills over time. You will also gain an inner strength and confidence that will allow you to face and implement the changes you need and want to make.
Study Change In Others
Vicarious learning is the easiest and fastest way to learn anything. Learning from other people and their experiences is a trait of many very successful people. You can learn in many ways from studying changes that other companies make. You can see how change has worked for them. If it has been positive, you learn about the benefits that change brings. If they have struggled, you can learn what to avoid and increase the chances of your success.
When McDonalds went from only serving lunch and dinner to offering breakfast, that was a big change. McDonalds changed a significant portion of their business model. Due to that change their business had significant growth. Companies create new market niches with their changes. Sometimes, a completely new industry is born out of change. As you continue to study how other companies have changed you will be less adverse to change, and you will also gain insights and ideas that will make your changes results oriented and successful.
Seek Excellence Not Perfection
Some people are caught up in the trap of trying to be perfect. Since there is always some risk associated with change these individuals are less likely to try anything new and take the chance of being less then perfect. We can never be perfect. Even great baseball players strike out a significant amount of the time. But, great baseball players continually strive to improve, to be the best they can be, and to achieve great things. Excellence is achievable. Excellence is born out of a desire to grow and achieve. Change is a natural component of reaching for excellence.
Examine your activities. Are they structured to move you towards excellence? What one thing can you do today that will move you closer to the picture of excellence that you have for yourself? Try and put one activity on your daily planner that will help you achieve excellence. You may not notice any changes today or even this week, but over time you will see tremendous growth and many positive results.
Ask The Question
The question that you should be continually asking yourself is, “How can I do this differently?” You notice that I didn’t say, “How can I do this better?” I want you to create as many possible ideas for change as possible. After you create the ideas, then you can evaluate them for feasibility, potential of success, and significance to the growth and well being of your organization.
By continually asking yourself “How can I do this differently?” your mind will always be seeking the answers to that question. You will be amazed at the amount of creative change ideas you generate. Take the best ideas and look for ways to make them happen.
Communication is where so many organizations fall short. Environmental change, change that comes from outside of us, change that we don’t initiate ourselves, is the most difficult to deal with. Frustration comes from not being in control. Your team members need to be informed on what is happening. Everyone on the team should be educated as to the challenges the organization is facing, changes that are being forced on you, and changes that you are initiating. Get their input. Ask for their ideas. Train everyone around you to create and suggest ideas for change, and give them the responsibility, and the safe environment, to implement those ideas.
Nobody likes surprises. By working hard at keeping all the channels of communication open your team members will feel a greater sense of belonging on the team, and your challenge of change will be easier.
Start Small But Think Big
Infants crawl before they walk, and they walk before they run. Treat change the same way. As you look to implement change into your daily routine, look for small areas you can tackle first. Successfully implement small changes first and then move forward to larger and larger projects. As you discover the power change creates, you will find yourself actually seeking change ideas and people that can both create these ideas and implement them.
Sometimes we create change internally in order to establish a competitive advantage. Sometimes we face environmental change, changes forced on us by government, our competition, or other uncontrollable sources. When faced with environmental change, the key is to focus on our reaction, our response. Since we cannot control the source in that situation, focusing on it will only cause frustration and anxiety. Focus on what you can control. You can control your attitude towards change. You can control the changes you create and implement in order to deal with changes forced on you.
Just like the eternal expansion of our universe, change is a constant. Do you fight it, accept it, or seek it? Those who seek change create amazing futures, futures filled with opportunity for growth and amazing results. Be a change seeker.