The announcement is still hanging in the air and the rumblings have started to fill the halls. Change is coming and not everyone is happy. Big changes mean big adjustments as people begin missing their friends and work space. For some, change is exciting and fresh. For others, change represents a separation from emotional connectedness.
Visionary leaders and action-oriented people welcome change. They easily focus on the possibilities of the future and can imagine how much better things will be. Those who lack these visionary tendencies can be willing followers, but it may be more difficult for those who have emotional connections to the present.
This is the fourth blog in my series, Building Trust and Embracing Change. This blog will focus on how to prepare for emotional loss due to business change. Leadership should prepare for a wide-range of responses due to change. It may be tempting to expect an immediate positive and supportive response, but an allowance should be made for those who need more time to adjust. Setting up expectations about how people should embrace change can make the situation worse when they are not met. Preparing for change should include space and time for those who those may struggle with the emotional loss they associate with the change.
People enjoy predictability, comfort, and a sense of place. People who easily make emotional connections depend upon predictability. It creates a safe place. These emotional connections may seem absurd to a high-flying executive or a goal-focused professional. After all, isnâ€™t helping people with their emotional connectedness more relevant to a counseling practice, or something to be addressed in family dynamics or a lame pick-up line in a singles bar? It may not be common language in business, but it does describe reality for some.
Work is a very personal expression of identity. People become colleagues and some become close friends. They act as sounding boards at lunch and go-to people in a pinch. Office chairs fit comfortably and office space are personalized with pictures, memorabilia and tokens of achievement. Work and titles become part of personal identity and the weekly paycheck becomes a basis for security. It might not be much, but it is better than a stick in the eye.
Developing a plan on how to prepare for emotional loss due to business change is important to establish in advance. There are degrees to emotional response. Not call changes upset the applecart of emotion.
A plan must be specific to the organization and the type of change and should include the following three components.
Time â€“ Adjusting to change requires time. How much depends upon the degree of change. When possible, providing time for the adjustment through advance notice can be very helpful. Also, leadership should make themselves available to answer questions as they arise. You may not be able to answer them, but you can listen to the question.
Communication â€“ A major challenge is communication. Information cannot always be freely provided. The questions that begin with â€œwhyâ€ may not have clear or available answers. Communication requires listening. Listening is always an option, especially when there is limited information to share. Confident communication through excellent presentation is imperative.
Assurance â€“ This is directly related to how much leadership is trusted and the ability and willingness to project confidence regarding the plan. Confident leadership is critical to the success of change and a sure sign of the level of trust that is extended to leadership.
The responsibility to embrace change is incumbent on everyone. Some may simply take longer to adjust. Patience and understanding are as important as vision and leadership. Anyone struggling with change needs to understand his or her emotions. This is the starting point of embracing the emotions that make change difficult and should be addressed up front.
What part of change do you find the most emotionally difficult?Â