Monday, February 9, 2009

Are you scared?

Change is a force of nature: its impact is hard and unstoppable.

No wonder change is a fearful concept for most people. Changing takes effort, it forces adjustments, and brings uncertainty and insecurity. Who would opt for that - willingly?! Therefore, most changes force themselves on us. Sometimes by our own doing, but just as often, without any of our own interference. Relationships end, family members die, babies are born, cars crash, companies fold, departments reorganize, new competitors enter the market, innovations make current technologies obsolete. Change just happens.

Resisting change is therefore futile, but still quite understandable behaviour. When moving through change, a common change management model is the concept of the unfreeze-freeze. First, the current situation must be unfrozen, then the situation must be altered to fit the new desired situation and as soon as this happens, that situation should be frozen again and voilĂ ! The change has occurred.

Unfortunately, that only happens in fairy tales. Oft-times "unfreezing" isn't a gentle defrosting experience on a low wattage in the microwave, but a solid heatwave blasting through. Leaving us charred and vulnerable. How would you react to that? Like anybody would in times of trauma: with denial and resistance. When you or your company is the one forcing change, you should be well aware of this. You are making the change, you are seeing the direction you are heading, you are ready to mould the new situation as soon as everything is unfrozen. But for everybody else you are an unstoppable trauma that is washing over them.

So be humble. Be honest. Be understanding. Help people to see where this is heading. Don't resist or deny the resistance and denial of change that will occur. Because than the pot is calling the kettle black. Realize, that just like they must come to terms with the change, you should adjust to their resistance. Because if you don't, the only thing this change of yours will become, is a big lump of defrosted goo.

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