Change in life is inevitable so why does it always seem to feel like such a challenge?
My pre-teenaged daughter and I talk a lot these days about change, and she recently asked me why it seems the boys at school are so much sillier than the girls. Oh boy!! The joys of adolescence and change! I ended our little talk by explaining that she will experience many changes throughout her entire life. I tried to impress on her that change doesn’t stop when you become an adult. We all know this, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Personally, I actually like some change and the challenges that come with it. However, even for me, some types of change can be very stressful and difficult to manage. The way I have learned to manage change throughout my career is by embracing it and actually leading through change, acting as a constant for my team when everything around us seems like chaos. With change, you must accept it and embrace it – the uncertainty, the challenges – all of it!
Of course, this is easier said than done. In my career, I have held several different roles at different companies and have experienced multiple mergers and acquisitions, and I have learned so much along the way. I have found the most success when I have allowed myself to lead through the changes I’m faced with. These are my top 3 ways for being a constant during constant change:
- Stop resisting.
When we feel we’re losing control, we resist. It’s a natural response, but it isn’t healthy or helpful. This was an important early lesson for me when I experienced the sudden transition of a boss that meant a new supervisor in very short order. When changes happen around you, resist the urge to hold on to the past or to the way things used to be, and try to allow yourself to be open to understanding the situation at hand and the reason for the change. Your team will appreciate your approach and your leading in this way will serve as a constant for them. In my situation, my new boss asked our entire team to read “The Employee Handbook for Organizational Change” by Price Pritchett and Ron Pound, which served to be a very helpful tool and notably one of the first points in the book deals with change resistance.
- Focus on the big picture.
Many times, when we experience changes both in our lives and at work, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Forget the effect the change is having on your day to day, what is the long-term goal or benefit of the change? Why is it necessary to experience the change? When you focus on what is most important and what is going to be best for you or your business, it helps to make the change you’re experiencing more bearable.
- Prepare yourself.
When you know changes are coming or see the need for change, be proactive and try to prepare for the change as much as you can. Many times, we see that technology or new applications are available to allow us to work more efficiently and effectively, but we don’t take the time to prepare ourselves through learning or training or by partnering with the right people who can help us manage those changes. At Mitchell, our Change Management experts do just that. They work with clients who are facing big changes such as a company reorganization, a pending merger or acquisition, or the onboarding of a new leader and their first step is to partner with that client to help prepare them for these changes to ensure a smooth change management process. When you feel prepared, change is a lot easier to manage.
Leaders who do well managing change are agents of change. They don’t resist it; they embrace it. They don’t dwell on the small things; they look at the big picture. And they don’t go into the change unprepared, they are thoughtful and do the best they can to prepare themselves when possible. Be a leader your team can rely on as a constant in the midst of a change and together you and your team will find success.
Sheerah Davis serves Mitchell as Chief Operating Officer, with oversight of all HR and operations functions. She works as a member of the executive team to develop and manage HR plans and systems integral in achieving the agency's goals while focusing on Mitchell's mission, values and core competencies.