Change is the only constant. We hear this all the time. We say it to our family members and friends when they’re struggling to accept change that might be inevitable or unexpectedly thrust on them. Or our family members are saying it to us when we’re resisting a personal change.
We experience it at work when market circumstances, performance or innovation requires change. The workplace research on the difficulties of change management in organizations have spawned entire consulting firms and practices. The Hard Side of Change Management identifies the four key factors organizations have to stay focused on when managing change. This Inc magazine piece describes why even talented, smart, successful professionals can be resistant to change.
Success requires change
Success means critically evaluating and when required, embracing change. Why? Think of this analogy. You’re at an annual physical. Your doctor asks about your eating habits and suggests you might want to cut your daily sugar intake as it seems high. You leave the doctor’s office, thinking through all the reasons you might not like to cut your daily sugar. It doesn’t seem to be harming you after all. Why change?
Two days later, your doctor calls and tells you you’re pre-diabetic. Assuming you’re not self-destructive, you get to it on cutting your sugar intake. There are no choices. You must change.
Change is the doctor’s request. In one scenario, the change is recommended but perhaps not necessary. In the other scenario, it’s a requirement. Recognizing when change is required of us, not merely optional, is critical. To successfully make a change, we must accept it, accommodate it, and craft our own pathway of navigating it.
How should we critically evaluate change?
As you evaluate whether and how to embrace a change, there are a few important questions to ask yourself. Spoiler alert: if the answer to 1 or more of the questions below is yes, the writing is on the wall.
Is the change seismic?
Is the change permanent?
Is there a benefit to making the change?
Are you more in control if you do make the change?
We are creatures of habit. That means that even those of us who’re big believers in the inevitability of change, struggle to embrace it when it affects us directly. Sometimes it’s because we simply do not know how to change, and need a coach to guide us. Other times, we do know how but might resist it nevertheless for reasons we can’t fully unpack ourselves. Hint: coaching can help here too.
Why are we resistant to change?
Understanding why we’re resistant to change is important. Here are the top 5 reasons. Think about a time when you resisted a change and now, looking back, wish you had embraced the change. Which of these reasons apply to why you were resistant to the change?
Fear of the unknown
Change induces stress or overwhelm
Resistance to involuntary change
Change requires questioning a key belief
Change needs an ingrained habit to shift
To learn more about why people resist change, take a look at HBS Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s article, Ten Reasons People Resist Change.
You can change your resistance to change
If you can identify the reason you’re resisting a change, you can actually begin to make some progress towards evolving your mindset. If you can’t do it on your own, which most of us – me included – cannot, coaching is an excellent tool to get help from an objective thought partner, experienced at helping clients navigate change in the best way suited to each individual.