A Change Happens: Manage it Effectively

By: Lou Quinto, Leadership Speaker & Executive Coach, Executive Development Associates, Inc.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “change is constant”, however, when we are faced with change our first reaction is to cringe or loudly object. Why is that?

The reason for the reaction is because change indicates, more often than not, that we are going to lose something. It can be something as simple as just losing the comfort of doing your job the way in which you are accustomed. We are creatures of habit and don’t like forces which make us step outside our comfort zone. Most organizations implement change in a way that is perceived as cleaning out a basement. They get rid of things. This makes implementing change both personally – and in an organization – painful. And, the longer you take to actually implement change, the more painful it is because people cling to the false hope that in the end everything will remain the same.

In order to succeed, change must occur, and it must occur often. The world is not standing still. Once successful and prosperous companies that did not embrace change have gone the way of the dinosaur. One does not need to look any further than Kodak. My children do not – and will not – know what a “Kodak Moment” is. Their Kodak Moments are now “Instagram Moments.”

Every smart business person understands that what worked last year, probably won’t work this year. If you’re still running your business, managing your staff or just doing your job using a “2008 Play Book” or strategic plan you will lose, and fast! Look at companies like, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. They are reacting and changing at a breakneck pace….and they are winning.

During your next meeting listen for the two phrases which shout that your organization and the people in it are not readily accepting of change and entrenched in doing business the way they always have. Those phrases are: “That’s not the way we do things here” and, “We have never done it that way before.” Be brave and shout back, “Why not?” Don’t cling to techniques, methods, management practices or product lines (see Kodak) that are “comfortable” because they were successful at one time.

In the future….tomorrow….when implementing changes, consider the following in order to move through the rough patches and get back on solid footing.

  1. Expect Emotion: Leaders are typically very good at planning the structural side of change, but tend to ignore the people side. Realize that the brain’s natural response is to view change as a threat. People need time to accept change, so acknowledge their feelings by hearing them out. Give them time to mourn.
  2. Validate Concerns: When team members share concerns, our natural response is to counter these concerns with how we plan to overcome them. This can be perceived as you are not listening. Instead, spend time acknowledging the legitimacy of the concerns before offering ideas for moving forward or the benefits of changing.
  3. Don’t Expect Immediate Results: We often say there is a learning curve associated with any change. What we fail to acknowledge is that the curve always trends downward before finally showing the promise of a performance enhancement. Embrace discomfort and allow time for temporary failure. Otherwise, people may mistake the performance drop as a sign that the change was a bad idea. Improvement takes time. Be on the lookout for even the smallest successes and celebrate them to show progress.

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter Drucker

About the Author:

Lou Quinto has over 20 years of experience in employee development, management training, executive coaching, and consulting with expertise in teaching managerial skills, critical thinking skills, professional presentation skills, and motivational speaking. His style of training and consulting is described by clients as engaging, motivating, and productive, making him a popular choice for conducting seminars, management retreats, and executive coaching sessions. Lou is a graduate of Purdue University and resides in Indianapolis, IN.