There are many ups and downs in life. Some people weather these changes better than others. It requires an entire team to accept change for it to go smoothly.
Change. You wouldn't think one single word would have the ability to provoke intense fear in others. And yet it does, people avoid change because they lack knowledge or skill, it creates discomfort and extra work or because of fear of the unknown. It can create a lot of opportunities for conflict but also motivation.
It is impossible not to change. Our cells in our body are continually being replaced and changing. In fact, who you were just one year ago is not who you are today. Most people hold onto the way it is because they want comfort, routine, and ritual.
Refusing to change means holding onto the past and using it to maintain a grip on the future. Ultimately, we want to use our history to remind us but not to define us. Your past is usually fear based, which means we are limiting our future with fears from the past.
HR leaders who want to influence managers, teams, and individuals to change should consider the following:
- Help people realize what they are holding onto. Ask what fears and resentments keep you from moving forward. Letting go of the past is the hardest part of the change.
- For instance, if a project went sideways in the past, someone can drag that fear into the present, and it will keep them from going forward. Putting these concerns on the table and seeing them for what they are, the past, helps someone navigate the future based on what's in front of them, not what's behind them.
- People need direction and support through change. Direction should usually come first, and many leaders neglect it altogether. Direction helps someone understand where our team is headed and what tools and resources are available.
- Support is lending emotion and motivation to help someone feel better about change. It involves listening, understanding and appreciating someone's struggle. It may also mean accommodating their needs.Often we end up piling on the support without direction, and it enables people to stay where they are at and avoid change.
- Fear often puts someone into survival mode where performance suffers. We don't want to support people to stay in doubt; we want to give them direction and inspire them with hope for the future.
Often you see people whose performance has suffered and managers continue to support them at this level. This support is emotional, or it could be giving them better shifts or different workloads. This treatment enables or encourages someone to stay where they are.
Especially when people experience the uncertainty that comes with change, they need hope. Team members need hope that things will improve, hope that we are moving in the right direction and hope that their efforts are worthwhile.
Thus it's far better to give someone direction in change, resources, and hope.
This blog was updated on December 26, 2018.