You Can Have Results — or Excuses. But Seldom Both

What if you had the opportunity for improvement, without the pain of change? At work, it would be so much easier to revise processes, upgrade technology or develop new policies. But chasing opportunity without some degree of change is nearly impossible.

So if we want opportunity and growth (and who doesn’t), why are we still so reticent to accept the pain of change? Over the next several blogs, we’d like to explore the tendency of both individuals and companies to justify their fierce adherence to the status quo — the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality — as well as ways we can change our attitudes and embrace the power of change.

A guy and two girls studying a group of post-it notes at work

Consider possibilities that come because of change

Let’s talk first about why change is so hard.

  1. It causes a break in routines. One change leads to others and soon your entire flow of operations or daily routine is interrupted. While that can be unsettling, breaking routine forces everyone to look at things differently, and the new perspective can lead to new ideas. Ask your employees to submit ideas throughout the time a new routine is being established, and let them know their viewpoint is appreciated.
  2. Productivity slows. If your change interrupts the normal flow of things, productivity can decline — but only temporarily. Let your team know you understand and accept this short-term loss of productivity in exchange for the long-term gains you anticipate.
  3. Fear of confusion. What if everyone doesn’t understand or buy into the change? That’s the likely scenario you should count on — and plan for. Before any change is implemented, take the time to brainstorm points of confusion and build in ways to head off mistakes and accelerate the learning curve.
  4. The need for perfection. No one wants to be the employee who just doesn’t understand the new system. As a result, many workers tend to resist every change, even small ones, if it means they may face “corrections” from their manager. To help with this, give your employees permission to fail during any implementation phase. As a manager, serve as a resource and judge the new process instead of the employee. What can be improved? How can you help?
  5. We’re all too busy. This excuse for change is perhaps easiest to understand. If we’re already consumed with the day-to-day responsibilities of our jobs, how can we possibly be expected to add change to the process? Won’t things be left undone? Not if we prioritize and plan.
  6. We want change to be “one and done.” Never underestimate the time needed for change. No one just installs new software and moves forward seamlessly. Every new process causes ripples in ways you may not expect. Accept this reality and be prepared to respond. Give your company the time needed to adapt.

Understanding why change can be difficult is an important first step. Change simply never comes easily. Once you accept this, you can then embrace the possibilities that come because of change. This is how you move from using excuses to pushing for results.

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What are some of the biggest barriers to change that you see at your own company?  Please share your comments.