Change is an essential element of growth for both businesses and for individuals – we must change to adopt to ever changing conditions. Without change, there is stagnation. If you do not change, the world around you and your business will. As market conditions, technologies, competition, and other factors that impact your success are constantly adjusting. Only those that accept change keep up, and only those that truly embrace and seek out change can excel.
You have likely heard the expression that change can be painful. But this is not just an expression. Our brains actually process change in a similar way to how it processes pain. Our brains are looking for patterns, for consistency, and for familiar elements. Change is new information for our brains. It doesn’t know what to do, and the change is perceived as an error. Naturally, our brains perceive these errors as a threat, triggering reactions of stress and fear – just as it does when we are injured.
For a company to change requires that the leadership to create an environment that encourages new ideas and new ways of doing things. That requires that the leaders themselves be open to change, and become champions of change within their organization.
Employees at all levels of the organization should be proficient in what they do, and support the policies and procedures of the organization, but at the same time should be encouraged to identify opportunities to suggest changes that will make them better.
When a large project will result in significant change to the organization, such as a software implementation or a restructure that change needs to be approached with the understanding that change can be painful to many members of the team. Recognizing that fact early allows for steps to be taken to identify the impact that the change will have on the organization and help the staff to not only accept, but also embrace, the new process.
The process of guiding the organization to embrace change and creating a culture that grows rather than stands still is generally referred to as Change Management. In my next article, I will provide an overview of the core concepts of change management. In future articles, we will discuss the key steps to managing and controlling change.