Episode #36: Say You'll Manage Change
and say it early...
Be the Change…
In Episode #35 I wrote about owning up to the fact that when you start something new you are unlikely to be able to offer much in terms of value. This assumption concerns your expectations: if you set an expectation that, when encountering change, you’re going to burst through the doors on day one kicking-ass and taking names, you’re likely going to stress yourself out and fall flat on your face.
One way to break-down how we handle change is to consider change in terms of the value we consume and the value we add. Ideally, a threshold is reached somewhere around day-90 where your value-add overtakes value-consumed. I drew a little graph below to represent this threshold.
If you encounter change or help someone confront change, do a quick check-in: where are you on the change curve? Have you set productive and realistic expectations?
Give yourself time to adapt to change. Indeed, doing so is part of your new job—your work includes an active effort to, over time, flip your role from consumer to creator. There is no avoiding this simple fact: you must consume before you can create. When you encounter change, give yourself and your colleagues the time and space to do so.
One way you might facilitate the threshold a little more adeptly is to consider the idea of “managed change” versus “unmanaged change.”
Unmanaged change—change left to the whims of the universe—will occur at a slower and lower rate than managed change—change that is actively supervised and directed.
Below is a drawing showing the difference of managed changed and unmanaged change in the change-curve story.
How exactly do we actively supervise and direct change?
As the drawing shows, there’s a brief moment in the managed change curve where you dip a little further into value-consumption. This momentary dip pays larger dividends later, because as the drawing suggests, there is added learning required to accommodate adopting change management tools.
In other words, to manage change you must expend effort to actively supervise and direct that change with the help of tools.
Tools to help manage-change can include:
IDEAS like change-management theories and methods,
OBJECTS like books, blogs, journals/notebooks, goal-tracking programs,
PEOPLE like your manager and peers.
In my case, I drew heavily from all three tools. For
IDEAS I drew from the ones I know best via what I’ve read in Buddhist and Stoic philosophy (e.g., focus on what you can control and don’t stress about the rest),
OBJECTS like building project management touchstones in MS Excel, to-do lists in MS OneNote, and listening to the audio-book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins on my daily commute; and by planning and talking over 1-1’s with
PEOPLE, like my manager-superstar who not only is educated in change-management, but who also has presence enough to use our weekly 1:1’s to help me narrate my change journey.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a well equipped change-management manager, not to worry, you can double-down on the other change-management tools offered above. And if you are comfortable, perhaps this blog post can be an agenda item and pre-read for your next team meeting. If you don’t have tools, equip yourself. Don’t just wing it. Own your change.