During times of organizational change, it’s estimated that at least 30% of those impacted can be categorized as “Resistors,” actively opposed to the change initiative; another 50% will be “Undecided.” While I usually spare you the math, my ciphering tells me that leaves 20% of the pie acting as a proponent of change. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of people on the front line. Your “Change Warriors” are carrying the flag without a whole lot of people following them. What’s the problem here?
Well, the easy answer is this – the problem is YOU.
But, it’s not as clear-cut as “people don’t like change“…that’s too broad of a statement. I propose that “change” isn’t the real issue. “Change” can be managed; we can assign benchmarks, objectives, work streams, and project responsibilities to “change.” We can, to a certain extent, have our hands in the process – because that is what “change” is… a process.
We can deal with change… but if we couldn’t? Well, to you I say dinosaurs, Sir. If you are reading this, you are a change machine. Stop and count the number of times you’ve changed over the course of your lifetime, if not only the last few years – we do change quite a bit.
No, our problem isn’t the change process; our problem is our reaction to the change process. Clear as mud, right? Not when you consider our primal instincts to protect, defend, or flee from things we perceive as threats. When we sense danger (which we do almost immediately when change is thrust upon us without warning) our response is quite predictable – we assume the worst.
How do you combat something that is hard-wired into our DNA? Brick by brick, that’s how.
#1. Self-Assess. The “FIRS” assessment is a favorite Pritchett product, but it’s certainly not the only show in town. Find an assessment you trust, and get a baseline on your strengths in areas of successful change. We advise to specifically focus on Flexibility, Innovativeness, Risk Tolerance, and Stress Tolerance (“FIRS,” get it?). Need a quick and effective one for free? Try the VIA Character Assessment. Challenge yourself in these four areas, to the extent you are stretching outside of your comfort zone. Speak in front of a group, offer up a best practice to implement, buy some ridiculously unstylish clothing (see Sackett), go to Parent-Teacher Night, whatever it takes to be uncomfortable.
Practice now. Take some baby-steps in your personal development, and prepare for the day (soon) where big bad “change” knocks on your door – pretty soon you won’t worry so much about what’s on the other side.
John Whitaker (“Whit”) has been in the healthcare industry for over 20 years – pharma, device, biopharma, hospital, dental, and now anesthesiology – perhaps he should settle down somewhere? As EVP and Chief People Officer at National Partners in Healthcare, he’s helping to create the culture of a company that will improve the lives of anyone needing a surgical procedure.
Like most Texans, he loves to tell a story (especially those that include an armadillo or a poker game) and cutting through the chaff…don’t take it personal. So if you find yourself craving a down-home colloquialism, tune in for Whit’s monthly installment on FOT, connect on LinkedIn, or follow him @HR_Hardball.