Navigating all of life’s necessary changes
Every now and then things have to change. It might be that change is needed at work, within an organization, a school, a church, or within your home.
It’s not always easy to make major changes, and I’ll tell you why. People don’t like change. They like their own world to go on, as much as possible, according to a predictable routine.
But change must still occur from time to time.
And, because people can be such stubborn animals, entire books have been written about how to facilitate, orchestrate or navigate change.
In my own life, like yours, there are times that I have been asked to make a change or to go along with a change. At other times, I have been charged with implementing a change effort.
Neither one is necessarily easy.
I’ve found that, when implementing a change, a few common ideas must be kept in mind.
First, if at all possible, give people plenty of time to get used to the change. It is easier to make a change when you know about it well in advance and when you have plenty of time to prepare.
Second, remember that change is ideally done with the intention of making something better. People will usually argue that a new procedure is the wrong way to go, but that is usually because they don’t want to change. In reality, changes that are deliberately made are often done with the idea of making something more efficient, more valuable or more cost-effective.
Third, remember to do your homework. Research is crucial to discover the best course of action for your organization. You may need to do extensive research and pore over tons of data, or you may simply need to informally gather a few pieces of advice from others who have tried it before but, either way, there needs to be a time for gathering information.
It doesn’t make sense to go into a major change by leaving the entire matter up to chance.
Fourth, the time before a change or the time during a change is usually a good time for some professional soul-searching.
Ask yourself: “How will our services improve? How can we be more user-friendly? Can I make the effort more worthwhile?”
Fifth, after your research and introspection are done, take time to set goals and chart your course. Nothing gets done by accident, so a specific plan is vital. It should include the dates by which certain achievements will take place and by which certain components will be implemented.
Sixth, you must determine how the change is communicated, and that might depend on the kind of change you are making or the size of your organization. If it’s vacation time, a family meeting may be all you need. But if your business is launching an improved product or service under a new brand, your plan will likely need to be more extensive.
For the more monumental transitions, it is best to communicate early and often.
As already mentioned, people don’t like change. But they are more likely to accept change if it is something with which they are familiar. That means they must be fully informed, again and again.
Seventh, ask how your business or organization or church is going to handle it when people resist the change.
Resistance is inevitable, so it might as well be decided up front what will be done to support those who need it.
Some individuals simply
need to know what to do. Some just need everyone to get out of their way. Others need to be led through a process by the hand. Some, unfortunately, have to be dragged, kicking and screaming. And even worse, some might need to be run off completely.
But no matter what, just know that not everyone is going to fall in love with something just because it is new. Some will need to be ushered into a place of acceptance.
On a personal level, we go through the same process when facing a big change in life: prepare yourself, work on making improvements, learn all you can about it, ask introspective questions, make a plan, gather the information
needed and prepare for any pitfalls. And then, step on the gas.
In a way, it is common sense and merely a part of life.
David Wilson, Ed.D., of Springdale, is a writer and teacher at heart. His book, Learning Every Day, includes several of his columns and is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. he may be contacted
by email him at [email protected]mail.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.