The challenge of managing change
Thursday, March 24, 2016
As a child, I remember my dad telling me there was one thing I could count on, and that is "things will change." At the time, I wasn't sure what he was saying, but now realize the meaning of his words.
My father emigrated from Spain at the age of 18, leaving behind his family and familiar way of life, and entering a "foreign world with changing opportunities." Using his example, I'd like to expand on this idea — the fact that managing change is an opportunity.
The older I get, the more I enjoy the stability of the "known." Keeping up with new technology offered by smartphones, computers, televisions, remote controls, new and changing health laws — the list goes on — is an amazing challenge. It's easy to seek out the rocking chair and rock my way through all this "change." But, by doing so, I am missing out on the opportunity to grow and remain productive.
During these times of change, I stop to think, "What did dad do to survive, grow, and remain productive in his changing environment?" He had to cope with a language he did not understand — I have to cope with a technology I don't understand. Change is challenging, and when change is welcomed instead of dreaded, it offers opportunities.
Change provokes thought. Depending on how I think about change determines how I manage and cope with it. When I tell myself, "I can't do this or that with these new tools," I immediately put myself at a disadvantage. I erect roadblocks or obstacles that prevent me from taking advantage of new and challenging opportunity. That's precisely the kind of thought that leads to debilitating actions. When I think this way, I limit myself and block my ability to progress.
Change is a condition — a situation over which I have little to no control. It does not stop or go away just because I get upset. Rather than let it bowl me over, I realize I have a choice. My thinking will either direct me toward ways to cope and adapt, or it will bury me in self pity — "poor old pitiful me." Needless to say, the latter position is one of unproductive behavior brought on by negative thinking.
OK, OK, you get my point. Now, let me give you some ideas on how you can manage the challenges of change.
From the TV show "Flashpoint," I learned and adapted a coaching process using their incident intervention model. Adding my self-coaching skills, I've developed a three-step coaching model that can be useful in managing change:
1. Connect (awareness). Gather the information, facts, opinions, beliefs and observations regarding the change presented. Do your best not to react or get emotional about the change. Stick with the facts and ask yourself, "What can I do with this situation right now?" Decide what you can do, and then take that action. "I can't do it!" is an emotionally driven reaction. Asking the question will get you back to intellectual thought and a management position. Remember to do what you can do — stop the negative thinking.
2. Respect (assessment). Work to gain an understanding of the situation. With new technology, read the manuals or get instruction from someone who has the knowledge (our boys are my tutors). Develop a strategy or development plan to approach the situation, create a direction and establish success indicators to help you measure progress.
3. Protect (action). Take care of yourself. Don't rush to judgment or make expensive purchases. Continue to seek advice from those who know, put your plan into action, and evaluate your progress based on your success indicators.
Managing change is a challenge, but it can provide many opportunities. Continue to accept the challenge.
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