Change is Difficult … here’s why!

 Change ManagementNot every change we make is significant.

But the more substantial the change is, the more suspicious we become and the less we like it. But, this is true of most people because we expect and our experience has indicated that changing is often uncomfortable.  At a given point, we may feel comfortable with our situation and the possibility of any changes are greeted with skepticism.  It is human nature to be wary of change, but over our careers and lifetime we have been able to adapt to changes, and some have even worked to our advantage.

The big question is, why do we take a foreboding view of forthcoming change? Research in change behavior has yielded some attitudes that are consistent in the face of most type of career and life changes. All of these may not apply to you, but they are worth examining.

Here are some suggestions:

Investment in the status quoThe fact of the matter is that we have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in arriving at what is now the status quo. At this juncture, we feel as though we have made a significant investment at making the necessary adjustments to develop an attitude of stasis. Now, we learn that we must reinvest time and emotion to again achieve stasis.

The counterpoint to this attitude is that we have successfully made many changes in our careers and our lives. We have learned and adapted new skills that have served us well to the point that we now describe as stasis. But, it may be time to learn some new information or a different method to accomplish our career or life goals. New experience could open new horizons.

 Fear of failureLet’s state this up front: If we try something new, there is some chance that we may not be very good at it. So what? This is the natural order of things. Rarely are we “expert” the first few times we practice a new skill or method. I do not recommend “baptism by fire.” The best way to implement change is gradually, depending on the magnitude and complexity. In other words, take a step-by-step approach. As each step is learned or perfected, move to the next step. It is also acceptable to take a step back and analyze what could be changed to ensure better results. If you’re not successful, take a step back and ask yourself what didn’t work. Doug Hall, the founder and CEO of the Eureka! Ranch says, “Fail fast, fail cheap.”  It’s an easier path to change.

Take small stepsThis is important: You don’t want to spend too much time planning for and implementing a huge change that does not work out. Part of “fail fast, fail cheap” is taking small steps.  If you take a small step and it doesn’t work out, it’s not a big deal.  Analyze all the factors of the failure, make a new plan and try again.  If substantial time and resources have been invested, it makes it more difficult admit failure and start over. The natural tendency is to try to tweak the change so we don’t have to admit failure.

Your image and reputationNone of want to appear inadequate in the eyes of our team members. Unfortunately, a business mistake can stigmatize us and damage our reputation. Our professional colleagues and society as a whole can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes. The good news is that, even in childhood if you fell off your skateboard and your friends laughed, you did not stop trying. The same attitude is applicable now. The point is, simply stated, in any new endeavor there may be some failures. Also, the failure may not be catastrophic, you just need a better road-map.

A good idea or notNo one wants to have an idea rated as, “a dumb or bad idea.” We want to maintain our self-esteem and reputation in our professional and personal lives. But, we have to have the courage of our convictions. I do not recommending taking a leap of faith. You have a large resource pool to validate your idea.

For example, you team members, managers, professional contacts, research and mentors can serve as quality sounding boards for you. This is also an opportunity to test your commitment to a particular idea or plan. Take a deep breath. Learning how to handle and implement change is an important professional and life skill.  Just take small and careful steps towards the desired goals and you will be successful.

The Training Shelf Newsletter covers a wide variety of topics that relate to leadership, management and small business, so you can refresh your skills as needed. Don’t forget that you can search the archives depending on your interest.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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