Common myths that are spread during times of change
Often change can be difficult to process for the people involved. While you cannot stop people working through the transition when a change occurs, we do have the ability as leaders and managers to help.
Here are some of the myths that the team at Thinking Focus come across working with organisations as they process change. These are the stories and beliefs that people are telling themselves, hoping that these stories will help them resist the need to change. More often than not, these stories only keep people in the transitional process for longer, increasing the emotional pain associated with organisational change.
By tackling these myths you can start to build a change mindset, one that can find opportunity and growth, as well as quickly adapting to the new ways of working required to move forward.
Delusion: This will go away
Reality: Change is here to stay
The odds are that it will never be the same again in this organization. Things may settle down again as time goes by, but they will settle down differently to how they were before. When these changes are finally made / complete / finished then things will have CHANGED and things will be different.
Change doesn’t have to mean ‘bad’ – it can be better than it was.
Delusion: It will help if I get upset about this
Reality: Controlling your emotions increases your control over the situation
There may not be much you can do about how things are changing in the organization. But there is a lot you can do about how you react to the situation. You have total control over that. It is likely that the first reaction you will have will be an emotional one – that’s natural. Tune in to what you are thinking and saying – is it all true? Is it based on fact? Are you sure? Allow yourself to think differently and consider some different questions. Search for meaning. Think it all through.
As you control your emotions, more rational explanations will emerge.
Delusion: Our management doesn’t care about us
Reality: Management has to make some tough decisions and it’s impossible to keep everyone happy
Times of change put many new stresses and demands on everybody in the organization. Senior management has to make some hard decisions and – at times – take unpopular steps. But this doesn’t mean that senior management doesn’t care, or is mean, or insensitive.
This is about the organization changing to survive and thrive – it’s nothing personal.
Delusion: Senior management knows a lot more than they are telling
Reality: Senior Management is most likely being as open and straightforward as the situation permits
Managing major change is always a process of discovery. Even if the people in charge plan very carefully they cannot know everything and will have to improvise as things develop. The strategy has to evolve as you plot your course – that’s why it’s called ‘change’.
Change is a discovery, so it involves managing uncertainty. There isn’t a rule book to follow
Delusion: I can just keep on doing my job like I have been in the past
Reality: If the company is changing, you probably need to be changing too
Pay very close attention to what is happening around you – if the organization is changing at a faster rate than you are, you could be headed for trouble. Make sure you are not out of step with the new ways that are emerging. You can’t rely on what you’ve always done to see you through.
Make no mistake, the train is leaving the platform. You’ve just got to decide if you are on it.
Delusion: This is a bad thing for my career
Reality: Progress is often disguised and can be perceived as trouble
Right now, it may seem like you are a victim of organizational change. But don’t jump to conclusions. In a few weeks or months you may look back on these changes as the best thing that ever happened to your career. Go looking for the opportunities that are being created, rather than denying that they even exist.
Usually the people who become ‘victims’ of change were too busy ignoring the emerging opportunities
Delusion: I’m not in a position to make a difference
Reality: You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem
During times of change people often feel like a victim of circumstances and disempower themselves. They can feel helpless, vulnerable and unable to have a significant influence on the work situation. But anybody can have a positive impact. Find ways to get involved.
If you think you can’t or don’t want to, you’re right. If you think you can and want to, you’re right.
Delusion: Senior management is supposed to make these changes work
Reality: If you work here, this is your plan
It’s a mistake to call this “their plan”, as if it has nothing to do with you. As long as you accept a salary and come to work, it’s your plan too. Senior management is responsible for devising the overall plan. You’re supposed to make it work. Success or failure of the plan rests with you.
Ultimately everyone has a choice to be involved or not. Don’t expect others to make your choice for you
Delusion: They don’t know what they are doing – the things being changed are just making things worse
Reality: They probably do know what they are doing, but they can’t do it without running into some problems and even making some mistakes; that’s a natural side effect of change
Senior management will have most of the answers, but not all. There is no ideal solution when it comes to managing transition and change – no ‘one size fits all’. Even when the overall strategy is right, some tactical details will get messy when it comes to implementation. We may have to go through some ‘pain’ before things get better.
Have you considered the risk that there might be deeper trouble if we didn’t change at all?
Delusion: The changes weren’t really necessary
Reality: What’s necessary now is to make the changes work
Nothing is to be gained by continuing to challenge the change the company is making. Instead of arguing over whether it was the right decision, now that the decision has been made it’s everyone’s job to get involved to make it work. Don’t look back – look forward.
What would you like to spend your energy on – fighting progress or making progress?