Nav­i­gat­ing all of life’s nec­es­sary changes

The Weekly Vista - - Editorial & Opinion - David Wil­son

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]­ Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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