Change – Accept it or else…

by  Jonena Relth  |  Leadership Development

No matter what anybody says, CHANGE is difficult.  Yes, for all of us, because we all deal with CHANGE  on our own time schedules.  The reality is that CHANGE is a way of life in 2013 that causes stress all around us – both good and less-than-stellar stress.

So take a minute to ponder. When you hear, “Change – Accept it or else…,” what thoughts and/or  feelings  does that congure?

  • Are “them fightn’ Words” to you?
  • Do you get the fight or flight instincts?
  • Does your blood pressure soar?
  • Do you feel helpless or frustrated?

Or, do you:

  • Take the news in stride by trying to control your negative emotions?
  • Direct your thoughts towards more healthy ways to cope?

I’m guessing we would all like to believe that we have our emotions intact, but the skyrocketing sales of antidepressants and muscle relaxers tell a different story.

Let’s take this a step further:

According to the Leadership Letters, “Even when a major change is clearly necessary and beneficial, it is stressful and painful for people. Change causes adjustment, discomfort, disruption and dislocation. A vital part of the process of implementing change involves motivating and supporting people.”

As leaders need to be aware of how the changes we are  implementing and simply discussing in our companies are affecting our employees and contractors.  After all, without them, we wouldn’t be in business!

When I first started out as a trainer, one of my projects was to teach a stress and burnout workshop for a Fortune 100 financial firm. Green behind the ears, I didn’t realize what a huge benefit it was for those employees to work for a company that valued them enough to teach them how to recognize negative stressors in their personal and professional lives and learn techniques for managing stress in positive ways. We taught them how to breathe, control their thoughts and change activities that negatively impacted them physically and mentally.

The company had an in-house gym with personal trainers who were there for the benefit of the employees. Yeah, healthy employees make for healthy companies, so it was a win-win for all concerned.

Assignment:  Take time each week to speak with your people.  Find out how they are doing and if/how they are dealing with the changes in your company.

Find out if they are :

  • Accepting of changes around them,
  • Adapting to changes around them, and
  • Adopting the changes in their worldview.

For the people who are Accepting, Adapting and Adopting – Great.

For the people who are struggling with CHANGE, make time in your schedule to help them if you can.  Simply sending the message to accept it or else … won’t cut it!  For our companies to succeed, we need everyone involved and invested in change in a healthy manner.

Thanks for listening.  I’d appreciate hearing your change stories – successes and failures.  Remember:  Most of us learn more from our mistakes, but we don’t all have to make the same mistakes if we learn from each other!


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What People Are Saying

Bill Fox  |  08 Jun 2013  |  Reply

Jonena, I’m going to respectfully disagree with you. We make change hard by believing change is hard. We can also choose to believe that change is easy, which is what I choose to believe. Change is the natural state of things in this world. Why not embrace it and recognize it for the gift that it is?
Change is a natural and ongoing part of the world, it helps us grow and improve. I fully embrace change and it has only enhanced my life. Embracing change is embracing our ability to create what we want in the world. When we recognize change as a naturally occurring event, we can welcome it into our lives and it makes change easy.

Carol McClelland  |  09 Jun 2013  |  Reply

I’ve spent much of the last 25 years studying, observing, and thinking about change and how individuals navigate through times of personal and professional transition.

What I’ve come to understand is that change is a natural part of life on this planet. The natural world changes constantly in response to the change of seasons and changing conditions. Often, but not always, this kind of change happens incrementally and constantly. There’s time to adjust and adapt to changes. Then, of course, there are circumstances when the change is abrupt and comes with little or no warning. Under these circumstances, change is harder to take in and accept.

One pattern I’ve seen frequently in corporate transition situations is that the management team spends a lot of time working through the reasons behind a change, the new vision, and the logistics for making the change – they have time to adjust and adapt to this new world over time.

But when the change is communicated to the rest of the organization, the employees and managers outside the core team are told there’s going to be a change or they are asked to participate in some meetings about the transition. Usually in this scenario, the individuals don’t experience the shift as one of incremental change. Instead, it feels abrupt and uncomfortable.

Is it any wonder that the rest of the organization digs in their heels a bit and has a difficult time synthesizing all of the changes?

What I’ve found is that when everyone in the team understands the nature of change, there’s a better understanding of why each individual’s experience of the same situation is so different and a common language that allows for conversations that give individuals a chance to transition more smoothly. In addition there’s a better grasp of common detours that derail us, individually and collectively, when we jump out of the natural cycle of change.

There are so many layers to this conversation about change and transition. I continue to be fascinated with the topic even after years of studying it.

I’ve written about this way of looking at transitions in a book called The Seasons of Change. You can see a brief overview of the concepts here: http://www.seasonsofchange.com/seasons-of-change.html.

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