Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My #1 Change Management Principle

Through decades of experience with team members across the globe, and by poring over hundreds of research articles, I have developed a few key principles for managing change.

My #1 Change Management Principle:  Reduce Anxiety to Increase Adaptation

While there are a few adventurous, novelty-seeking souls who enjoy constant change, the majority of people are wary of the 'new'.   In business, the 'new' is often costly in terms of effort, time, money, and even physical discomfort (ever have to move your desk from one building to another???)

NEWS FLASH: The human brain is wired to conserve energy, and new things cause the brain to expend a great deal of energy. 

With energy expenditure comes anxiety ... and with anxiety comes resistance.


LEADERS: Think about your people.  What would REDUCE anxiety during change? 

There is no cookie cutter here, though I have some suggestions ... but start by thinking about what would reduce team member anxiety?  What can you do to reduce apprehension and concern?

HINT: Lying doesn't help, nor do half truths. 

How does reduction in anxiety increase adaptation?

If my mind is not clouded by ... say, whether I'll have a job when the change is done, or whether this change is going to completely upset my apple cart, or if it is going to cause me to look incompetent, or if it will put me into a team with a bunch of people I have never worked with (or worse, with people I don't want to work with ...) my anxiety will be reduced.  The reverse is also true.  Keep me in the dark about the change and I promise to be ineffective during a time a great stress.  The greater the unknown, the higher the anxiety and the lower the adaptation.

LEADERS: Think about your people.  What would reduce anxiety during change?

Reduce anxiety, increase adaptation. 

If you want a change to 'take hold' in the DNA of your organization ... this is not optional.

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