Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have some control over change but more often than not we have to accept it and make the best of it. People often find themselves using a lot of their energy against change – they should ask themselves why? Would they be better served by using their energy to work with the change and create positive opportunities for themselves? After all – we find what we look for, whether that is the positive or negative!!
The Zones of Change
Many times people think that we can just flip the switch and adapt to change freely. It’s important to understand that everyone moves through change differently. It’s essential to be able to understand and manage our responses to change, so that we don’t have a negative impact on others around us.
Things you may experience or see in yourself or others during change:
- Passive Acceptance
In a similar style to a grief reaction people may take some time to address the reality of what has just occurred. People can’t really do much at this stage other than come to grips with what the new situation entails.
A common reaction may be to deny the impact of the change. “It doesn’t relate to me, and it doesn’t affect my department”. A ritualized form of ‘farewell” to the old ways sometimes helps. Remember the ‘old way’ of doing things is actually what has helped us develop and move to the ‘new way’ of doing things.
It is important to openly deal with what angers people. “Why did we need to change at all when the way we were doing things was fine?” Some may actively resist or attack the change. Anger can engender a mood of self-preservation. This may promote risk avoidance and hold back innovation.
The commencement of accepting that the way things are done has indeed changed and that the old ways are in fact gone. “I suppose if we have to deal with this, we might as well get on with it”
A willingness to look at methods for implementing and taking the change process forward. “How do I actually go forward from here?”
Actually moving forward. Ensuring that the change process is the catalyst for continuous improvement and not just there as an obstacle.
Circle of Influence
In Stephen Coveys popular book, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ he says that during periods of change, we tend to focus on all the things we feel we can’t change or influence. This can make us feel out of control and anxious which in turn increases our stress level. Instead, we need to put our focus on the things we can actually do something about, which makes us feel more empowered and in control. Within our personal lives and work we have a variety of things that ‘keep us up at night’, some which we can influence and some we can’t.
Think about all your concerns, and identify which ones you can do something about. Decide how you can be more proactive and address the things that you can have some level of influence over. Your circle of influence will enlarge and your circle of concern will shrink.
By focusing your energy and attention on doing something about the things you can control within your circle of influence, rather than those things you have no control over, you’ll feel more empowered and positive rather than feeling like a victim or blaming others.
Having a Reactive focus reduces a person’s Circle of Influence thereby increasing stress levels. Life seems to be ‘happening to us’ in this mode.
Taking a Proactive focus enlarges a person’s Circle of Influence giving you more control and reducing stress. This has a positive impact on stress levels because we feel more in control.
This concludes Part II of my three part series Moving through Change.