By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. ” ~Charles Darwin
Flash! Crack! Pop!
Darkness engulfs us. Silence, too, but for the pelting of rain and hail on the house and windows.
A neighbor’s tree has just split in two and taken out the power to the neighborhood as it fell on the power lines across the street, pulling the wires from her house in the process. A few of us neighbors gather in the storm to check on our neighbor and her ninety-nine year old mother. We assign ourselves various tasks of calling the town about the tree, the power company about the wires, and vacationing neighbors about windows left open and the severity of the storm. We also call our neighbor’s son a State Trooper, to make sure his Mum and grandmother have the help they need during this frightening time in the middle of the night. All the while, we take turns staying with our neighbor and bringing her updates as new developments occur.
Change is hard enough to deal with when one has time to see its approach and adjust. There is so much emotionally to come to terms with during times of change that often goes unnoticed under the best of circumstances. When change takes us by surprise and places us in a state of complete upheaval, we feel the lack of control and the effects of all our emotions on a highly magnified scale. Without someone to keep us grounded and to guide us through the change, we, like my neighbor in the storm, fall to pieces in some fashion, unable to think clearly and take the necessary steps to deal with the change.
Recently in New England, the news was full of accounts of a particular company in the throes of sudden upheaval after decades of rumblings from within the beast of an acrimonious family struggle for control of the business. In the early stages of this most recent installment of a public struggle, it was easy to see the ulterior motives of some of the participants in spite of the veils with which they covered these motives.
This brings me to the point of my comparing two seemingly dissimilar situations. Change will happen. It’s inevitable. Whether it happens at its natural pace or thrusts itself upon us is irrelevant. How we handle the change matters. Whether our handling of it produces three-dimensional, positive results is determined by the motives involved in the change. Our motives may be pure or they may not be pure. The motives of the other parties involved in the change also may be pure or they may not be pure. Whatever goes into the change, will have an impact on the results. “Garbage in. Garbage out.” as the saying goes.
Conversely, if you put good stuff into the change, it will produce results that are good for everyone. Here are a few things to consider the next time you are facing change:
- If you are the instrument of change, ask yourself what your motives are in instigating the change. Be honest or there is no point in reading any further. If your motives are self-centered, admit it. Then, decide what you are going to do next. You can continue on your original path, or you can decide to care about the people left in your wake by asking yourself if there is another way to get what you want while helping others in the process. In the corporate situation above, the motives behind the change were the best-kept secret everybody knew yet the offending parties would not acknowledge, thinking instead that they were hiding them. Mid-way through the ordeal, it reached the following point:
“Any reasonable person would begin to put into question whether or not this is going to happen, whether [the defendant] will be able to put this together,” said Richard Nicolazzo of the communications firm Nicolazzo & Associates, which has advised companies such as MetLife and Nortek in acquisition deals. “If past is prologue, I’m not optimistic. I think that this has been a situation where it’s no longer a rational or economic discussion. It’s about, ‘You’re not going to win at any cost,’ even if it means putting this company into some kind of reorganization.’”
- Do not be shortsighted in your quest for big profits. My thirty-plus years in the corporate world have allowed me to witness well-planned change strategies that made the companies stronger on paper and at their core because the companies took into consideration all the aspects of what the changes would mean to everyone involved. I have also witnessed hastily made changes designed to boost the Bottom Line for the upcoming shareholders meeting that ultimately produced devastating results.
The advice that my grandfather gave me when buying my first car holds true for all of Life’s decisions:
“I you are pressured into buying the car without being allowed to step back and consider the deal from all angles, walk away because the deal’s no good. If it were good, it would stand on its own.”
- If your goal is not simply to survive the change but to thrive throughout the change process, be certain to include solid change management practices into your strategy. By helping your employees to deal with the emotional aspects of change throughout each stage of the technical/physical change process, you will have a workforce fully able to support the change from beginning to end, becoming advocates as opposed to adversaries.
Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS
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