We are very ambivalent when it comes to change. We constantly ask our surrounding environment (spouse, colleagues, children, politicians, bosses, etc.) to change. But as soon as this very environment asks us to, we become “resistant”, our defense mechanisms kick in, we argue in order to maintain status quo. We are used to our “routines” and it is hard for us to get out of them. This change subjects us to stress, reviving from the depths of the reptilian brain a sense of insecurity, which pushes us to mobilize our strengths to fight the menace and ensure our survival.
Change forces us to see a new way of doing, to adapt, to adopt new circumstances and conditions.
It’s clear that any organization/team/individual which wishes to impose change has the responsibility of implementing an efficient change process.
- Every change process relies on a legitimate diagnostic, based on the answer to the questions “Why change?”.
- Then follows a strategy set-up which leads, lists and defines the desired actions. It answers the question “What to change and how should it be done?” and helps eliminate uncertainty and ambiguity created by the change.
- The strategy is followed by the application phase, which covers the transition from the present situation to the desired situation. It includes two steps: the disintegration of the existent habits and the reconstruction of new ones. At this stage, the familiar markers tend to disappear, and the new ones remain to be defined and concretized.
- Finally comes the execution phase where we get up-to-speed. We now refer to the phenomenon as the operating procedure rather than change.
However, even the best of processes cannot guarantee success. It will be necessary that every individual involved with the change own up to it for the change to be successful. Owning up to change is essentially an individual development affair. It relies just as much, if not more, on the perceptions coming from the individuals living the change than the reality of the current situation.
The same change can provoke very different reactions from one individual to another, based on the perception they have of it. Every change processed as a problem will operate under suffering.
The recipient is the only one accountable of his owning up to change, he is never its victim. He decides to make the efforts to change, or the efforts to resist it.
He decides to own up to change, to enrich it, to improve it, or to challenge it, resist it or remain indifferent to it. The less we “lead” change, the more we suffer from it and let it become a source of frustration and stress.
When change happens, its recipient has two options: fight the person/service/organization responsible for it, resist to change and defend status quo, or fight for their team/organization and refocus their efforts so that things are even better than before change. These two options create similar emotions and efforts, but produce very different results.
Instead of suffering from change, we have the responsibility to own up to it. We must stop playing victim by passively reacting to it. If we believe to have no other choice than to go through it, we are wasting energy by complaining and by telling ourselves that we have no choice, that it’s not our fault and unwanted change was imposed on us. We must create our own ability to change!
We act, aiming to reduce discomfort and looking to satisfy our needs and worries. We are at the helm of our own process, we explore, we innovate, we strive to understand, learn and get used to new reality.
Change cannot be mastered, there will always remain a touch of uncertainty. Change management is not a linear process which unravels harmoniously step by step.
Owning up to change does not mean that we won’t have to go through change again. It means that we will be able to endure and transform change as it happens. Owning up to change is learning to swim through the storm, instead of being swallowed by the waves and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. We will have developed our behavioral and attitudinal muscles, which will support us in our hour of need.
We don’t always choose change, however we can choose how we react to it.