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September 29, 2011

Change Management: Avoid Meltdown Mode

“Mornin’, Mama!” My two-year-old daughter says to me brightly.  “Milk?” she asks.  At this moment, I steel myself for her reaction when I have to explain that the milk is “all gone.”  She collapses on the floor and in about 1.5 seconds, is in complete meltdown mode.  This continues for an eternity (or about a minute – I can’t remember because I’ve blocked it out).  Fast forward to five minutes later, and she is happily engrossed in putting her baby dolls “night, night,” and all is right with the world again.

Most adults have matured enough to react in a slightly more reserved manner when changes occur.  At least, that’s what I thought before last week.  If you use Facebook – and you probably do, just like 800 million others worldwide – then you know all about the updated profile and news feed changes last week.  Likely spurred by the immediacy of posting status updates (an individual’s stream of consciousness in some cases), I got to read exactly what everyone thought of those changes.

TLNT’s Lance Haun wrote a great blog this week demonstrating that the reactions to Facebook’s changes highlight universal concerns that are applicable to the workplace.  Following is a great quote:

“Large swaths of people will initially hate all change. While something changing on Facebook should be inconsequential to life in general, we know that large groups of people will react negatively to this. Think about that when we add in the fact that work is how we make our livelihood, and changes at work can be much more traumatic. Even if politics or culture won’t let them openly express it at work, you should know that any change is going to be hated by many folks.”

Suggestions for a change management strategy:

  1. Create a Vision.  What are goals that must be achieved?  Draft goals that can be completed within three years, then break them down into smaller, one year goals.
  2. Communication.  Not enough, unclear, or inconsistent communication will hinder any change in the organization.  Utilize multiple avenues to communicate the change effort.
  3. Empowerment.  Sometimes, managers themselves are a hindrance to the change strategy.  Employees and leaders must be empowered to make the changes
  4. Short-term Wins.  Improvements and completed objectives along the way create and maintain a sense of momentum and urgency for employees.  Make sure some of the goals are short-term.
  5. Planning for More Change.  The momentum gained from short-term wins will give employees and leaders incentive to address bigger projects and problems that are not in line with the change strategy.

On my news feed at least, upset over the Facebook changes has largely gone away.  At home, my two-year-old has long forgotten about milk.  We adjust to change because it is inevitable.  However, we can make life easier for everyone – including ourselves – if we take a proactive approach to change.

How do you handle change?  Comment below and share it with us!

Read This!  Think People Have a Tough Time with Change?  Just Ask Facebook

 Facebook Changes: Is Everyone Really Happy to Accept it?

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