Norton: Getting ready for change, managing change, accepting change (column)
As a frequent traveler, I spend a lot of time on airplanes, in hotels and in rental cars or Uber/Lyft rides. And I spend a lot of time in different cities around the world. With all of this travel, as with anything in life, comes change. A change of vehicles, change of hotel rooms, a change of scenery and overall changes to the systems we follow when we travel like security and airline policy and procedure.
As someone who speaks about change quite a bit, I found the irony while I laughed at myself on my most recent trip. It was another hotel stay, at least my 30th night in a hotel this year, and just another room much like the rooms I had slept in for the past several years. And as I got up and got ready to shower, I was faced with one more unique shower fixture. Almost no way to tell which way was hot and which way was cold and no visible way to turn it from tub to shower mode.
My frustration gave way to laughter as I prayed that one day there would be a universal shower in all hotels everywhere around the world. In that moment I was ready to make it my life’s work. And there I stood, examining the apparatus one more time, and figured it out; at last, a hot morning shower.
Of course, showers change; everything changes eventually. The team I was getting ready to see was undergoing significant organizational change. They were also getting ready to change products and were launching a new technology. The executives and shareholders were all very excited about the changes getting ready to launch their company into the next generation and level of success. The problem was the team expected to execute on the changes was not quite ready.
Not being ready caused fear and panic. Fear and panic fueled the rumor mill. The rumor mill perpetuated wrong information, and wrong information sent an entire workforce into paralysis. All the change that was getting to take place was, in fact, very good for the company and its customers. It was also going to be very good for the entire organization. The breakdown in communication and preparation came when the company failed to make sure all personnel were ready for the change.
Being ready for the change doesn’t mean that we need 100 percent buy-in before we change; being ready for the change means that we have thought everything out, prepared internal and external communications, alerted everyone to the changes that were coming and what the expectations were going to be and gave them a format to ask questions about the change. Left to our own imaginations, we can quickly determine that change is a bad thing and sometimes see it as a very bad thing.
Now, managing change is still yet another part of the story. Once preparation and communication are met with expectation and explanation, we can start to better manage the change as it is happening. It’s not time to think about measuring results of the change; the first thing we have to do is manage the behaviors that will drive the change. When people clearly understand where the company and the product are going, they can then clearly see where their personal contribution can make a difference.
Accepting change happens. For some, like those of us staring at a brand-new shower fixture, it takes a little more time than others. But sooner or later, whether we resist the change or not, the change will happen. As it has been said, the one constant regarding change is that change happens, and change will happen again. The secret is following the first two paths mentioned above, change readiness and change management. When we can become really good and efficient at both of those, change acceptance will be accelerated and the change will be successful.
Here is the best part of the shower story: As I stood there bewildered for a moment or two, I didn’t stop to think and appreciate all of the other changes to that particular hotel. The mattresses were all changed, the lobby and bar were upgraded and changed, the check-in process was changed and made easier than ever before.
Of course the shower fixture would have been changed, too. I was ready for the changes I liked and could easily grasp, and I managed what was being changed as long as I saw the benefit to me, but I was slower in accepting the change that was just a little more difficult.
I still think a worldwide universal shower set-up for all hotels is a brilliant idea, like maybe one of those really awesome showers found in the Netherlands.
So how about you? Whether you are looking at a change at work or home, are you ready for it? Do you know how you will manage it? And are you prepared for those impacted by the change to accept it?
I would love to hear your personal story or your company story of change at email@example.com. And when we recognize the role that readiness, management and acceptance play in effective change, it really will be a better-than-good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.