Managing change as a leader and as an employee
Change is the greatest certainty in life. It comes in multiple shapes and forms, and it manifests throughout personal and professional aspects of our life. Yet, we find ourselves reacting to change as if it’s always the first time we’re experiencing it. In most cases, the first reactions is associated with negative emotions. Despite these initial reactions, we later come to realise that change can be a great opportunity for a new start towards our dreams… if only we knew how to approach it!
The good news is that managing change can be a positive journey, totally in your control. It all starts with self-awareness, regardless of whether you are introducing the change or impacted by it.
One of the most insightful papers on how to manage change is the book ‘The change cycle’, which explains in detail each of the stages of change, and provides tips on how to accelerate the progress through these stages.
In summary, the first three stages are associated with loss, doubt and discomfort, and they usually reflect subjective and personal views over the change. Experiencing these emotions not only leaves us feeling bad physically, but it also prevents us from identifying a way to progress and reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
The next three stages are the positive ones, when we discover and understand the big picture; it’s the objective view and therefore also the positive view of the change. This is when we feel empowered and confident to take steps for turning the change in a favourable way for us.
How is it for leaders versus employees?
As leaders, before introducing any change, we run discovery and detailed analysis to understand the current situation, potential solutions, best practices and lessons learnt from other industries or businesses until we’re confident we’ve identified the best way to move forward. We then plan for the change roll out with milestones and success criteria. Equally important is to define how we will reach our goal, and in 100% of the cases, that will be done through people. As leaders, we also have the responsibility to first understand the stages that our teams go through during significant changes.
As a leader, what I often find important, but equally challenging, is to create an environment in which people can share their emotions and perspectives, and where the others are listening in a respectful and non-judgmental manner. Once emotions and perspectives are shared, we have the big picture for making better decisions and it’s much easier to focus on the future together. To accelerate progress towards the end goal, the other main responsibility we have is to provide support throughout the change, focusing on enabling our teams to go through the discovery phase as soon as possible. This is where the positive trend starts.
As professionals, we have all experienced at least a few significant changes in our professional life – be it a new job, new company, new colleagues or a new project. Regardless of the driver, I’ve learned that it’s important to identify the benefits of the change early on in the process. While it may be hard to pinpoint these benefits clearly at the start, don’t stop until you have managed to balance the perceived negative outcomes with the benefits. Focusing on the benefits will also allow you to identify means to leverage the opportunities. A good way to start is by looking back in the past – when did you go through a similar change? How did you react then? Based on the bigger picture and your values, take actions to contribute to the discovery phase for yourself and for your team.
People usually believe they need to be strong, intelligent and determined in order to succeed. And it’s true, but these remarkable qualities are not enough. We need to be ready to adapt to this ever-moving world, like a river flowing through the mountains and penetrating the hardest rock. The change and challenges coming into our lives are there for a reason: either to propel us onto a path of evolution and growth or to teach us a lesson the hard way. The starting point is always the same – you choose and control the path that takes you to the end goal. Remember this: the upcoming change might be the best thing that has ever happened to you…embrace it, when it comes!
Paula Tibre is a Contributor on Outsourcing Advisors
Paula is currently the Global Director of Technology, Delivery Assurance at Paddy Power Betfair and the Site Director for the PaddyPower Betfair office in Cluj. She refers to herself as a Product and Technology passionate with 12+ years hands on experience in building products from concept to customer. With 360◌ view of business experience, setting new standards and adapting to multiple geographies and cultures, Paula has an outstanding drive to reach clear outcomes, while investing to grow others, set up new teams, boosting engagement across all areas and teams.
Personally, Paula is an active learner and constantly transforming and evolving as a leader. She has a passion for writing, travelling, supporting others and the community she is part of, always focused on becoming a better person.