Becoming a Promoter of Change
(not the kind of change you found in your wallet)
March is a month to celebrate change; this month marks Irish American Heritage Month (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!) and National Women’s History Month (yay, women’s rights!). Both celebrate significant changes that have taken place in America, changes that had to be fought for by leaders and backed by countless others. Change is required for progress and growth. Our environment is ever-changing and our ability to quickly adapt to it can be the difference between success and failure.
Change is never easy, never fully welcome in any organization. Sometimes, we show up to work to find that the company is implementing new software to “help make our jobs easier.” We grumble and complain at having to learn a new program and building new processes around this software, while losing site of the bigger picture. The bigger the change is, the more we want to fight against it and maintain the comfortable place we had before. Usually, we do not fully accept a change until we are able to see the benefits that it brings. While we may object to having new software to learn, we may not see that overall this software is better than what we used before (if we even used anything): the new software may be faster, more responsive, more efficient, and have better features, possibly saving your company thousands of dollars per year.
When it comes to facing change, a good place to start is by figuring out where you are going to stand with respect to the change. Are you the person who:
- does not accept the change, but instead fights it (Obstinate Opie),
- simply accepts the change, willing to go with the flow (Apathetic Abby), or
- is a leader that sees the need for this change and chooses to promote it (Advocate Adam)
Determining which kind of person you will be when faced with this change will help you decide how best to respond.
Obstinate Opie is just that – stubborn. Opie is perfectly fine with how things are and does not want them to change. He prefers the manual processes or old software that the company has in place. Sure, it is slow and cumbersome, but he has spent a long time learning how to use it and finally has the hang of it. Now, the company just brought in new software that he would have to re-learn? Opie’s first instinct is to fight the change, but what he should do is to evaluate how this change is making him feel and why it makes him feel that way. Maybe he is upset that he will have to take time away from his job to learn a new system, or maybe he’s just set in his ways and prefers the old way of doing things. Either way, Opie needs to take a step back and look at why he is fighting the change, and then, decide if the best option may be to simply remove himself from the situation. What’s best for the company usually outweighs what’s best for a single employee, and someone who is unwilling to change probably won’t last at that organization for very long.
Apathetic Abby is that person at work that just goes with the flow. “Whatever you want,” she always says as she returns to her cat videos. When the company brings in new software she simply shrugs her shoulders and installs the updates, not really caring to learn the new system. Just like stubbornness, apathy is also a reaction that is not ideal for an organization going through change. Someone who is apathetic about changes may be just as apathetic about their job, a quality no organization wants on staff. Abby should try to understand why she doesn’t care about the change. Maybe her mind is focused on something at home, or maybe she is truly a laid-back person without a care in the world. Either way, Abby should look at change as an opportunity, not a chore, and work harder at becoming a promoter of the change.
Advocate Adam is the most positive person when it comes to dealing with change. He proactively works to understand the change, encourages his colleagues to see the benefits of the new software, and embraces the changes to his work. Adam is quick to point out the benefits of change and encourages co-workers to adopt the change with enthusiasm. Why is user adoption so critical during change? Without user adoption, an organizational change like implementing new software will fall flat on its face. Employees and co-workers will complain and fight against the change, or simply not use the system in which the company invested thousands of dollars. This produces a waste in the investment and produces a negative energy around the workforce. Needless to say, having someone like Adam on the organization’s side of this change is necessary to achieve full user adoption and successful, positive change in the workplace.
Are you dealing with some changes right now? Whether that change is at work or at home, evaluate yourself and determine if you are Opie, Abby, or Adam, and then work from there. Regardless of your current position, everyone should strive to become a promoter of change. Change is necessary for survival and is often the deciding factor in a company’s success or failure.
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