If one thing is for certain, it is change. In the last 20 years, the work environment has transformed almost from all recognition. Take a breath and celebrate this change, and our success in making it work’, before you read on. And take from that, whatever change happens in the future, we have the skills to survive it!
As leaders and managers we all need to reach a position where we embrace change, and have a ‘can do’ approach to making it work. Sometimes we can see change coming, or it can take us by surprise. In a leadership role we must support all of those around us to travel positively and safely through change before, during and after it happens. Without effective leadership, change can be damaging, unsettling and stressful. It needs a considered and inter-personal approach that is built upon some tried and tested structures and models. This is because we all have emotional and organic responses to changes, and this varies according to a whole raft of individual reasons that are affected by our role, experience, qualifications, health, personal life, and personal goals and ambitions. Natural responses to change include feelings of: anger, depression, fear and pessimism; as well as excitement, happiness and optimism. The potential for work-related stress is real and therefore ups the importance of sound management.
A key message is that we all operate on different timescales. Some of us will adopt change more quickly. Others will need time to think things through before they accept it. And there is nothing more annoying than being with someone who is really keen about change very early if you are still on the journey! Whatever way, try to avoid wasting time fighting things that will not change and you have no control over. You won’t enjoy it, you will drain your energy and it will be very frustrating.
The response will depend on a number of factors which include:
- Is the change fairly minor and being suggested by staff or
- Is it a major strategic change which is being externally imposed, for example the introduction of new legislation or policy?
- The speed at which the change is introduced
To support the introduction of change consider the six C’s of change as suggested by Schrag et al., 1985:
- Challenge – turn perceived threats into a positive challenge
- Communication – consult widely and regularly with all staff keeping them informed
- Commitment/collaboration – encourage shared ownership avoiding any suggestion it is being imposed
- Control – allow all staff to feel they are sharing in control and shape and pace of any change
- Confidence – encourage resilience and self-confidence in staff
- Connection – promote networks of support, both within a setting and from outside agencies where appropriate
Change will be a hot topic for 2020-2021 as we get used to living and working with the effects of COVID-19. So, with a little forethought and care, you can support you and your team to make a success of it.