Dealing with Change is a Class-A Pain!
First, what does change mean to you, your life, and your business? Is it rapid, gradual, ignored, accepted or the object of ‘magical thinking‘?
Second, how do you manage? Can you really manage without engaging a fortune teller and hoping against hope you can see the future and get ahead of the unknown?
Lastly, how do you feel about it? What does this mean for your business? I’ll get to that…
I read regularly about change management, embracing change, dealing with ambiguity (another way to think about sitting on the edge of the razor and awaiting change….or not) and the like. Change management seems to deal more with having established processes and policies so that, in perfect execution, things don’t blow up. That’s excellent and encouraged in any organization. With the caveat that you are working with human beings in a less-than-perfect environment, you need to have those kinds of processes in place. It will lead to much less chance of unforeseen disaster, but not eliminate the possibility.
Now embracing change is an interesting concept. Most people I know feel like they’d like change to stop for a bit (at least) so they can get their breath and bearings. Everything around them is changing constantly and trying to filter the change that they need to pay attention to from the change that has a lesser impact upon them is the first problem many have. Embracing change for the sake of change is no good. Prioritizing and understanding what is changing and, if you can, why it is changing will enable you to incorporate where you are now and where this will take you a bit more clearly….or so you hope!
My experience with organizations that tell you that you need to be comfortable with ambiguity is that what they are really telling you is to be ready for anything, at anytime, and don’t melt-down when it happens. Corporate vagueness as an actionable virtue, more or less.
Trying actually see the future is a pipe dream. Forecasts, plans, polls and the like are projections. If you accept them as such, you will be more prepared for what happens. If you rely upon them heavily, you are leaning into the ‘magical thinking’ area. This goes for positive and negative forecasts (the opposite poles are “It Can’t Miss!” and “It Will Never Work!“). Regular review of plans, based on the degree of change that seems to take place in your business, or to the degree that changes outside of your business impact your business (think oil prices, earthquakes, etc.) can help you here. Depending on your business, it could be the difference between taking an occasional pulse and wearing a heart monitor.
How you feel about this is important, as your business exists to serve your life, not the other way around. If the honest evaluation of change and how it affects you ties you up into a stressed-out, sleepless, irritable knot, what do you do with that? There are a number of ways people manage their stress, but every physician I’ve ever spoken to about stress has told me that mitigation doesn’t work nearly as well as removal. If you are working through change regularly and it is wrecking you, how can you remove the stress this causes and save your life?
Get some help. Most of us can’t see this in our lives all that clearly and need a second or third set of eyes to spot and really diagnose this. The cure will be as varied as there are different people in different businesses, so I won’t recommend specifics other than you journey through this self-assessment, reach out to someone trusted for help, and get to the point that the change of business doesn’t kill you.
No business is worth that.