I was dreading it for months. I knew the day was finally here. I finally succumbed. I turned in my Blackberry for an iPhone 5. Now I will spend months painfully changing all the behaviors I had programmed into my brain and fingers over nearly 10 years. Feelings of incompetence and frustration await. (And not just from Apple Maps.) Ugh!
If there is one thing that is consistent in life it's that change will come frequently and unpredictably. Whether it's the direction of your business, the economy or your personal life, change is really the only thing you can depend upon. But managing change effectively can give you a competitive advantage in business and in life. Here are five expert tips to help you be a change master.
1. Attack Change Head On
Don't wait for change to happen. Watch for it. Anticipate it. Just like surfing, learn how to read the wave and start paddling hard to get on top of it. Pay attention diligently to news and the general zeitgeist. Research probable scenarios and create contingencies for best and worst case scenarios. That way you can better manage the timing of change and address it on your own terms in a prepared manner.
2. Grab a Guide
Why suffer through change issues alone? Engage knowledgeable people who can help you through the process. Many of my Apple-using friends have made my phone transition easier. The world is full of experts and consultants that can give you helpful information and coaching to move through the change process with minimal disruption. Even if expert guides aren't available, team up with others caught in the shift. Shared information will be valuable and the camaraderie will soften the hardships.
3. Rip Off the Rear View Mirror
A close friend shared this phrase with me and I will forever be appreciative. It means look only forward. When in the midst of change, where you've been is meaningless compared to where you're going. Don't waste valuable time and energy on what was or what could have been. Keep your eyes ahead to deal with what's coming and focus mental energy on creating the new reality.
4. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Slogging through change is a clumsy and ugly process. It's like hiking in an unknown forest, in a rainstorm, with slippery shoes. You can't help it. You are going to fall in the mud along the way. Better to laugh at your own spectacle and accept that change management has its own progressive pace. You might speed it up a little but more often than not, if you force the situation you'll just create more folly. Keep a light attitude. Laugh at your missteps and enjoy the scenery along the way.
5. Celebrate Your Progress
Change is hard but it's not an endless path of pain and suffering. Transition is filled with moments of progress. Every time you hit a milestone celebrate in a big way. Write it down in your journal. Pat yourself on the back. Toast with your comrades on the change journey and ready yourself for the next obstacle. Soon you'll find yourself looking forward to the next celebration and the positive reinforcement will keep you going through the struggles.
Most people work hard to create stability in their lives only to find that much is out of their control. No need to beat yourself up about it. As the old Yiddish proverb says: Man plans, God laughs. Business is at its best when it is progressive and disruptive. Why not welcome the disruption? Following these tips will allow you to incorporate change management as a stable shelter in the chaos of today's world. Then you can effectively capitalize on the new opportunities brought on by steady change.