The Only Constant is Change
By Peter L DeHaan
I look back a few years, I see how things have changed. I have
changed, my family has changed, technologies have changed, my business
has changed, and industries in which I work have changed.
think that in today’s business environment, a culture of change is
essential for every organization. In my younger
days, I would recommend change for the sheer fun of it. Now,
older and wiser, I only advocate change when there is a compelling,
necessary, or justifiable reason to do so. The key
reason for this is that for most people, change is difficult.
Change takes something familiar and replaces it with something
unknown. Each organization has people who are
change resistant. And each leader, manager, and
supervisor knows exactly who these people are. With
such folk, their level of aversion to change varies from unspoken
trepidation to being overtly confrontational. Regardless
of the manifestation, we need to be compassionate, realizing that
these reactions are merely their way of responding to fear – fear of
establish a change-oriented culture in your organization, the first
step is to minimize employee fears towards change. Employees
can accept change if: 1) the change is incremental or small, 2) they
have a degree of input or control over the change, and 3) the change
is clearly understood by all.
key to this is communication. Address change head
on. For every change, each employee wonders how it
will affect him or her. Could they lose their job?
Might their hours be cut or changed? Will
they be asked to work harder than they already are? Will
they be made to do something that is unpleasant or distasteful?
What will happen if they can’t learn the new skills?
These are all worries, worries about the unknown. As
with most worries, the majority will never happen. But
with a lack of reliable information and top-down assurances, these
irrational worries take on a life all their own.
orchestrating change requires effective communication. Not
once, but ongoing; not to key staff, but to all staff; not by one
method, but by several: group meetings, written correspondence, and
one-on-one discussions. A true and effective open
door policy helps, too. Also, it is critical that a
positive attitude is set, at the beginning, from the top of the
organization, which never waivers. Celebrate
milestones, generously thank staff along the way, and provide
reasonable rewards at the end.
taking these steps will send a strong signal to staff. Even
though the change may still concern them, they will be comforted
knowing they have accurate information and the assurance that they are
safe and will be protected. And for each successful
change, the next one becomes easier to bring about.
will know that you have successfully created a change-friendly
organization when your employees – all of them – get bored with
the status quo and begin seeking change. They will
ask for larger or more challenging accounts, long for the next
acquisition, or want to embark on a major equipment upgrade.
At this point, the potential of your organization becomes
unlimited; the personal growth of your staff, unshackled; and the
future, inviting. You don’t know what that future
will entail, only that things will change for the better. So,
sit back and enjoy the ride, fully confident that the only constant is
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