One of the things that happens to quite a lot of people when change is on the cards, is that they become passive; indeed, some even become paralysed at the thought of having to make changes.
I’ve written before about Active vs Passive Choosing in terms of communication and the same is equally true about change.
The more passive you are when you know there are going to be changes in the workplace (or in your personal life as well) the chances are higher that you won’t have any say in what happens.
Now, of course, lots of times the decisions have already been made about what’s going to happen, but getting involved as early as you can (in other words, as soon as you hear about the changes), the better off you’ll be.
When we run Change Management courses for large organisations people often feel really disempowered from the decision-making process; they feel that they have absolutely no influence because the decision-makers are so much further up the food chain.
Probably for the big things, that’s generally true; however, it is a rare workplace indeed that can’t be influenced in some way by the people being impacted by the changes coming their way.
Years ago we did a training for a marketing team that was supposed to be a team-building day; the intention was that the team would come together for a day of creativity and some energising fun.
When they arrived, they were all in the pit of despair, having just been told, on the way over, that their budget had just been halved. They were depressed, angry and frustrated. They felt they were powerless and impotent to make any difference whatsoever. Their intention when they walked through the door was to prepare a case and go back and confront the ‘powers that be’ on how damaging these changes would be.
We first encouraged them to have a brief airing’ session where they discussed their shock and sense of despair; they needed to be able to acknowledge how they were feeling before we could do any practical work.
Needless to say, we chucked out the programme we had created for the day and focused on what they could do other than feel aggrieved and enraged. Their belief was that there was nothing they could do, the decision had been made.
What we did do with them was all about managing the change that had been imposed on them and how to regain their sense of ‘power’ by working with them to raise their profile. By using this route, it was all about developing their influencing skills where they clearly had no authority.
With a raised profile and up to date influencing skills they returned to the workplace far better armed and no longer feeling victimised by the decision that had been made. They chose to stop complaining about what the change that had been imposed and decided to go back ready to ask ‘the powers that be’ what they could do to help.
Imposed change, which all of us experience at different times in our lives, can make us feel we have no control over what happens in our lives. Yet, there is always something we can do, including deciding to embrace the change that’s been imposed.
That may seem counter-intuitive, yet in order to feel back in command of our lives, choosing to work with the changes that happen around us instead of fighting them, will definitely make life a lot easier and the changes a lot more palatable.
Check out Impact Factory’s range of Change Management courses.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory