Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chaos and Opportunity: Friends for Life

The River is Wide, the Currents are Messy, but all the Water Ends up in the Ocean
- author unknown

Today I took a class called "The Driving Forces of Change" and it is one of the many staff offerings at the UI to keep institutional inertia at bay.  I spent the morning talking with strangers from other offices in other buildings in other places on campus and we all had one thing in common:  we want help with initiating and leading change.  Best practices for change management, I found out, can't really be put on a 3x5 index card and stored in your pocket.

It's a little more complicated than that.  People are involved.

When you want someone or something to change, you really have to look at the situation through their lens.  Consider what you are demanding people give up - their daily habits, loyalties, personal identity, ways of thinking, comfort zone, routine...as well as sometimes, control and power and their personal future.  Sometimes it's not this dramatic, but maybe that's just your point of view.

As a leader, you need to really reflect on the following four areas, from their POV:
1.  The benefits of the change (good part of changing)
2.  The barriers of the change (bad part of changing)
3.  The benefits of not changing (good part of inaction) - this one is huge!
4.  The consequences of not changing (bad part of inaction) - this can be a motivator!

People shy away from change for many reasons, but often because of fear, because there is no visible crisis, because we are stressed and busy.  Check, check! Guilty here!  Also, happy talk from management doesn't usually help. 

So how can you successfully lead change?  You have to recognize the key players who can help you with influencing the others.  Next time you're in the shower, think about:  Who are the champions around you?  Pay attention to "what's in it" for the people you need to influence.  And approach the inevitable resistance with this pointed question:  "What would it take for YOU to accept this change?" 

Change is scary and laced with uncertainty - so meet people "where they are" and acknowledge that they are probably focused on "What's in it for me?" and also "What will I lose?"  This is where the 4 Fs are important, so let this be your next meditation mantra:  Feelings First, Facts Follow.  Treat the past with respect while you acknowledge the other's loss.  Accept the grief that follows.  Give information again and again.  Mark the end and connect to the vision for the future.  And then, expect the chaos and see it for what it is - a chance to achieve something even better than any of you had imagined.

For more on this topic, as well as a plethora of interesting career development tools, go here:  http://www.mindtools.com

or read this:

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