Change or Be Changed: Overcoming Resistance to Change
No one can oppress you more than you oppress yourself. This is especially true when it comes to change. Why exactly is changing so difficult? Why are we so resistant to change? It is because it feels easier to maintain the status quo than go through an adjustment period which often involves dealing with uncertainty and challenges alongside new opportunities.
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional — John C Maxwell
This resistance to change is often because of what is known as commitment bias, which is our tendency to remain committed to our past behaviors, particularly those exhibited publicly, even if they do not have desirable outcomes. This foolish commitment bias can make it difficult for companies to move past bad decisions because people will put up with horrible conditions instead of taking control of their situation and making changes.
Change Begins at the Top
A business leader must be someone who is capable of not just recognizing and managing change themselves, but encouraging and motivating others to change with them as well. It is also important for a business leader to understand that without change, many endeavors would never reach their full potential and become out-dated or cease to exist altogether.
It’s natural for people to be hesitant when it comes to change. They like their comfort zone of knowing what to expect every day and feeling that the world is predictable. Many people actually avoid promotion because they’re concerned by the idea of managing others. They wonder if they will be able to do the job, whether or not they will understand what is required, and whether or not they will be able to communicate their goals effectively enough to motivate others. They may find it difficult to adapt to changes that come with promotion because this brings with it different responsibilities which means growing beyond their current title and understanding just what is needed of them.
Change can be scary. For some people, they like the security of knowing exactly how everything works and knowing exactly where they stand in a hierarchy. When promotion is on the table, many people question their abilities and feel unprepared to the new role.
Planning for Change
Successful organizations have a plan in place to help their people deal with change. They let them know the steps to take, and share how these actions will affect them along the way. They give them an explanation for what is happening, and they have in place training and upgrading workshops to deal with change ahead of time. They begin by grooming them for the promotion long before they put them in the position.
I have also seen the results where companies have held back the information and left the employees in the dark. Fear of uncertainty usually causes people to assume that whatever happens is worse than what may actually happen in reality. This hinders production over all because it causes an undercurrent of fear around your team. It is always better when companies are less secretive and more open with information they share with employees because this helps them feel comfortable, trusted and capable of resolving the challenges and obstacles that may arise along the way.
As a leader, it’s very important to not only help your employees grow, but to also give them the opportunity to develop along with your business. After all, if you’re not watching out for their best interests, then who will? When someone grows as a person and as a professional they also grow in skill and qualifications which will ultimately increase company overall success.
Helping your staff to grow and have a sense of ownership over the company is a fantastic way for them to not only advance in their career , but it can also encourage a sense of loyalty and belonging which in turn assists with helping the business overall. A business’ success will, in part, depend on the employees’ ability to not see change as an enemy, but rather as an opportunity that could advance their skills and career if they can just get past that fear of failure.
Resisting Change Because of Fear of Failure
We all fear failure. Some of us prefer to watch from the safety of the sidelines, rather than put themselves out there and fail. Other people might not have faith in our talents or abilities. We don’t want to let others down after all, so we play it safe. But by doing so, we also tell those watching us that it’s okay for them not to try as well because the risk is too big.
If someone is only comfortable with “playing it safe” their behaviour encourages others’ to do the same and this behavior cuts off growth opportunities and stunts everyone’s potential as well as the evolution of the company as a whole. Growth is necessary at some point so rather than resist change and hide behind fear or shut down opportunities, create leaders within the company by developing those around you into leaders and demonstrating what it takes to be great: good management skills, keeping an open mind and learning from every situation that presents itself.
Because walking your path of growth and change is viewed as being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and lead you then give others tacit permission to do the same. As others cultivate this attitude of being their “shiniest” it has a cascading effect on everyone around them. The world revolves around change; it is the natural flow of life. So all we have to do is look at how nature changes with its every new season. Boldly the future lies before us, waiting for each of us to paint it in our own way with every passing season that comes into view.
It is only upon accepting change that you can move forward. When we fight against it, stress builds up and not only does your health begin to diminish, but you lose valuable information that could ultimately help you be better or more efficient in doing your work. If we lean into change instead of fighting what’s happening, it can actually be an opportunity for us to make positive changes.
If you want to be at peace, try making peace with those things about which you have been fighting change. If you’ve always feared change, remember that acquiring new skill sets can be easier than you’d expect. Start by taking baby steps and keep in mind that each time you move into a new phase, the fear of the change is much greater than the actual change that has to occur. I’ve heard people say countless times, “If I had it to do over again, I would start this process ages ago — I’ve missed so many wonderful opportunities because of my resistance.”
Create a Clear Path
Whether the change is for your business or yourself, begin with clear goals in mind. Put pen to paper and write out why you want to make the changes. Lay out your plan for change on paper by first pinpointing the areas you want to improve on. Then write the benefits of making these changes down separately as well, including what will happen once you can achieve these goals based on how it might feel good physically, spiritually or professionally speaking.
This may be especially helpful if the reason behind these personal changes is rooted more in your behaviour, meaning that some new habits may need adjusting along with some new ways of thinking about how you want life to go moving forward.
Publically post internally professional and team goals so you or your entire team can see them and everyone will be able to get through the bumps and adjustments that inevitably happen along the way. Then celebrate together as a team as there’s always something to celebrate be it a win or a learn.
“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson
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