Change is the hardest thing to manage

Copyright: flickr, GollyGforce

Change is difficult whether it's minor or major and we all have an emotional response.

I’ve just had to change my computer rucksack as the last one has finally fallen apart.  I loved that bag; it had all the right pockets, it had plenty of space and it was sturdy.  And now, I needed a new one.

I went into the shops and there was nothing quite like my old one.  I hunted on the web and I just wasn’t sure.  Finally I bought one from the same manufacturer (displaying brand loyalty – there’s another blog in there, too).  It arrived almost immediately and as I unpacked it I knew, this was not quite the same or as good as my previous one.  It’s just as big, maybe almost as sturdy but the pockets are wrong and the space just doesn’t seem to work for me like before.

So here I am, a change manager, and I am feeling the emotional effects of change just through buying a new rucksack.  Imagine the emotions that people experience when some change at work affects them.  A company I talked to recently are changing their shift patterns to reduce the effects of fatigue, a very worthwhile decision.  Yet the negative emotions that have been generated are immense and without the careful communication could easily have disrupted relations between management and workforce.  Of course, we’ve seen this before and what is amazing is that when the change has been implemented and people have had time to experience the new order, when they are asked if they want to change back they usually say “NO”.

Change is just a problem when what we face is unknown.  Spending time engaging people in understanding the purpose, deciding what the change will be and painting the benefits of the outcomes of the change are just some of the ways to make the change happen easily and smoothly.  Then supporting the people through the change and accepting that some teething problems might arise and dealing with them will also be helpful.

As to my new bag?  Well it looks rather smart and I’m starting to find ways to get all my bits and pieces in without any issues.  It’s not bad and it is growing on me.

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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