Four Tips for Handling Change
Following are four tips that have helped me deal with change. You may want to consider using some of them the next time you are faced with a “change moment.”
1) Don’t wait for all the details. Good leaders want lots of details before they make a decision. That’s great…up to a point. Despite one’s best efforts, in most situations it’s impossible to get all the details in an appropriate amount of time. Good leadership is the art of balancing the need for information with the available time…and moving forward. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made. But the paralysis of analysis is often more harmful.
2) Don’t fall for the, “I’m in control,” lie. Leaders often resist change because they don’t want to lose control. But this behavior provides a false sense of security. You actually are not in control to start with. Change simply reminds us of this fact.
3) Give yourself (and your team) time to adjust. Change rarely feels good at first. Think back to the last time your smartphone asked you to update your operating system. If you are like me, you probably put it off as long aspossible. Then, when you finally did hit the “update” button…didn’t you hate it for the first week or so? Nothing worked like it did before. It seemed clumsy. But gradually, didn’t you grow to like the new system better than the earlier version?
When change happens, be prepared not to like it at first. Allow your
people not to like it. But give it time. Look for the benefits of the new approach. Speak to others about those benefits. Gradually, you’re likely to embrace the new…and leave the old permanently behind.
4) Celebrate change. As you experience the benefits of various moments of change…make a list of those changes and how they improved the future. Then, when a new change hits, refer to your list of previous successful and beneficial changes.
Learning to embrace change is one of the most freeing, invigorating skills we can develop. I still remember the advice that dear friend and business associate Porter Stark gave me at a crossroads moment in my life. I was thinking about selling a company I had owned for many years. Frankly, too much of my self-identity andego were tied up in this business.
“Besides,” I wondered, “what would I do without the company?”
Porter’s simple comment was, “Steve, there comes a time when every plant needs to be repotted in new soil.”