Change is a given, especially in the corporate environment. The need to achieve results as effectively and productively as possible leads to change at both strategy and project level, as well as within groups.
Change implies “business done differently” and reactions to that change manifest as emotions and negative attitudes, which may slow the process of change. Feelings of helplessness, anger, disillusionment and complacency are all prime examples of negative reactions to change.
Because change is a given and negative reaction to change can slow things down, change resilience is a key success factor for any enterprise. It is the vital component that enables people to deal with the stress of change, achieve acceptance and stability, and deliver successfully on a project.
So, what is change resilience? It’s all about coping with change. The good news is that it is something that can be learnt and has even been compared to a muscle that can be trained and made stronger.
There are three things to remember when it comes to Change Resilience.
First, even though change resilience may become a collective trait, it always starts with the individual. It is about developing the ability to adapt quickly and remain flexible to the requirements of change.
We need to acknowledge that each person’s transition through change will involve ups and downs with accompanying emotions. Encourage each person to take on a personal process by which he/she moves from anxiety and fear to acceptance and action. The result is optimism, a key ingredient to improving change resilience.
Second, if the demands of change are overwhelming and deprive the individual of a sense of control, he/she may lose heart and become disengaged or angry. Counter this by committing to open, transparent and regular communication on change, encouraging each person to take on new challenges. A sense of courage (i.e. “I chose to do this, even if it’s difficult”) often gives optimism a much-needed leg-up, thereby boosting change resilience.
Third, personal mastery is at the heart of successful change. Personal mastery means the individual is capable of knowing him/herself and based on that is able to assess difficult situations and manage responses. Personal mastery makes it possible for the person to learn new things and improvise solutions. It also paves the way for generous and compassionate behaviour. Change resilience can be significantly improved through the individual’s ability to support others during the process.
As with many key success factors, change resilience is the sum of many parts. It’s a quality that involves the emotions, thinking and actions of the people who are affected.
Improve change resilience by helping those affected by change to develop and practise three things: optimism, courage and personal mastery. This will greatly improve the likelihood of success of your change projects and new strategies.