Cozying Up to Change
What can you do to help your people roll with the inevitable?
- By Greg Neilson
As I’ve learned from my management education, change is an inevitable
part of business. I know change is a good thing and is important, as well
as necessary. But I’d be lying if I said I always really enjoyed change
itself. Like anyone, I thrive being within my comfort zone. Steve
makes some interesting points, but there are a few areas I’m not sure
I agree with. It’s one thing to learn about the nice cool new features
of the next version of your favorite product (after all, this is one of
the reasons we love a technical career), but it’s another thing entirely
when your job role changes without warning for reasons you don’t yet understand.
Or worse, if a newly announced organizational restructure promises make
you a candidate for redundancy.
At the moment there’s a parable in the popular business book, Who
Moved My Cheese? that illustrates the importance of the need for accepting,
anticipating and then being prepared to change. Logically, I can see the
sense of what’s presented, although I found the text itself overly simplistic
to the point of being almost insulting (not to mention overpriced, as
the book itself is less a hundred pages!). I’m not sure that “move with
the cheese and enjoy it” resonates with me. Even for the major life changes
I’ve initiated myself, it’s taken me some time to get settled again and
be really sure I’ve made the right decision, let alone changes imposed
on me. Human beings really are creatures of habit, and I’m probably no
different than most. Some people love change; then again, some people
love to relax by jumping out of planes.
incumbent on me to communicate why the change is necessary
and why it’s beneficial to them personally. Only then can I
expect to be able to successfully implement
a major change.
More and more I’ve come to the realization that it’s difficult, if not
impossible, to make anyone in my span of control do anything they don’t
want to do—and this includes change. This means I can’t unilaterally make
changes and have everyone automatically follow enthusiastically. Sure,
people will half-heartedly humor me once or twice; but over time, creative
inertia sets in—there are too many seemingly good reasons not to do what
I want them to do. The only way I can effectively get people to accept
change is to generate the desire in them. So it’s incumbent on me to communicate
why the change is necessary and why it’s beneficial to them personally,
as well as to the company. Only then can I expect to be able to successfully
implement a major change. Steve’s
PBX implementation example illustrates the power of communication
to your stakeholders affected by a change, but I also believe that, unless
we generate in people an acceptance of the need for the change, it could
be an uphill battle to implement.
Change is inevitable in modern business. In our field, we experience
a great deal of it—often because the nature of technology is a catalyst
for that change. I don’t think most people relish change itself, but if
we first acknowledge our reservations, we can then understand the nature
of our own feelings and successfully work through them to be successful
in our changed organization. Internally, we can feel a physiological reaction
to the stress induced by our changed environment, even when we consciously
know the change is for the best. But there’s no point in resisting the
inevitable—it’s a waste of effort that could be better spent on more productive
endeavors. Just don’t expect me to always like it.
Greg Neilson is a manager at a large IT services firm in Australia and has been a frequent contributor to MCPmag.com and CertCities.com.