Life is a constant movement of change, not a monument of sameness. Change and growth are necessary for us to get to the future we desire. Not all people embrace change the same way and therefore change may need to be looked at strategically and methodically. I think back to the beginning of my career at the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce and how I embraced change after switching professions following more than a decade of working in the human services field. However, it was not just me that was faced with change it was the staff at the chamber of commerce as well.
My philosophy has always been to embrace change because without it there will be no progress. As Charles Darwin stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most adaptive to change.”
When it is time for a change; change management is necessary and often it will be for the better. It would be hard to debate that change management in any type of businesses does cause stress on the employees and often temporary chaos. But that is not to say we should accept this or fail to make a change when the change is needed.
Successful people, and businesses, recognize the need for change early. They embrace it. And they go looking for it. Because of this, they are also usually quick to see when something is not working and not afraid to change it.
Since change of any kind is inevitable, people are left with two choices: let it happen to you, or make it happen. The first is how most people operate. They won’t change anything until and unless they feel forced to. Sometimes you can’t help it. Something happens — new competition, legal restrictions, new management — the list is endless. But even when the catalyst for change is outside of your control, you still get to decide how to deal with it.
Here are some rules for effective management of change. Managing organizational change will be more successful if you apply these simple principles. Achieving personal change will be more successful too if you use the same approach where relevant. Change management entails thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation, and above all, consultation with, and involvement of, the people affected by the changes. If you force change on people, normally problems arise. Change must be realistic, achievable and measurable.
When dealing with employees and change, remember the employee does not have a responsibility to manage change — the employee’s responsibility is no other than to do their best, which is different for every person and depends on a wide variety of factors. Responsibility for managing change is with management and board of directors of the organization — they must manage the change in a way that employees can cope with it. Leaders have a responsibility to facilitate and enable change, especially to understand the situation from an objective standpoint and then to help people understand reasons, aims and ways of responding positively according to employees’ own situations and capabilities.
Whatever you do, make it fun. Before you know it, your business — and your life — will be growing and changing for the better. After all, the one thing you can always count on is change.
Lynn Pietroski is president and CEO of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.