How Do We Approach Change?

By Erica Tetuan , Principal Change Consultant

At work, change is an expected and necessary constant. The most successful organizations are those that can adapt and change faster than their competitors and emerging industry disruptors. Those that fail to grow and adapt are not likely to survive. Leaders are drivers of change. For some of those changes you may be the innovator and designer of the change and for others there is little or no control over the design. All changes, regardless of how they are initiated, trigger an emotional response. We live in a time when the volume, velocity, and complexity of change are unprecedented; it can feel like rafting down a perpetual whitewater river. How do we navigate the rapids?

Navigating Change

The way you respond to a change can have either a positive or negative impact on your ability to adapt to the change. Your goal is to find a path to navigate the rapid waters and build resilience so you are best able to adapt. For changes in which you have no direct control, taking on a growth mindset by approaching changes from a point of inquiry and learning allows you to gain much-needed certainty about the future state. Start by seeking answers to the following questions:

  1. What exactly is the change?
  2. Why is the change happening?
  3. Why is the change happening now?
  4. What would happen if the change didn’t happen (what is the risk of not changing)?
  5. What specifically is changing (what does the change mean to me)?

The answers to these questions allow you to take positive next steps to successfully adapt to the change. Once you understand the above, you will know how you need to work differently if you need to learn how to use new systems or tools. You will also understand new reporting structures as a result of the change; determine if your job role has changed; and learn how to interact with new processes, products, or services. With this information, you will be in a position to make informed decisions and take actions that will have a positive impact on your success with the change. For example, you could build better relationships with appropriate stakeholders and attain the new knowledge and skills you need to be effective in the new way. Equipping yourself with the appropriate information helps you navigate the ins and outs of the change and lead your team confidently.

Benefits of Resilience

Developing resilience will help you manage the constant bumps and turns that arise as a result of the change. A simple way to define resilience is forward movement. It’s about bouncing back quickly from the emotional and psychological challenges that come along with a change so that you can keep taking steps toward positive outcomes. Being resilient is a critical skill that will help you regenerate momentum when feeling stuck and move through change with self-assurance. It is also a core feature of demonstrating an agile mindset, increasing your ability to adapt and respond rapidly. As a leader, you not only need to understand and navigate the change yourself, but also position your team for success. Building your resilience first allows you to reset quickly and reduce the interruptions to accomplishing work. Doing so creates ease and stability for your team. It frees up your mental energy to better support them through the change process while you simultaneously model the behaviors you’d like them to exhibit.

About the Authors

Erica Tetuan
Erica’s focus in helping leaders realize change in their organization is to be as preventive as possible, which means practicing change management with a lens of avoiding resistance from the start. This focus relies on the ability to be predictive and see around corners that others may be blind to. Erica also discusses having difficult conversations, being provocative when boundaries need to be pushed, and asking people to pause and think about enabling the organization to talk about uncomfortable things that may prevent them from achieving their goals. Erica has 20 years of experience in influencing stakeholders and working collaboratively to motivate diverse groups of people. She has developed change management methodologies, built internal change management practices, and led strategic organizational transformations. She has an MS in Organizational Development and Knowledge Management from George Mason University and a BA in Social Science from Nazareth College of Rochester.

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