To read the first piece in this two-part series on embracing change, click here.
The second stage towards change is called the Resistance. In this phase, an individual will fear that the change is real and here to stay.
Here, the individual may experience overwhelm and demotivation. At times, this is when the silent treatment is evident because they refuse to accept the change and stop communicating.
In this period, a business may start seeing signs of absenteeism, productivity goes by the wayside, individuals find faults in everything as a way to prove this new way is not going to work.
You may be hearing things like, ‘we do not have the time to implement this change to make it work’ or ‘I gave it a go and failed miserably; it didn’t work so I can’t see it working.’
The other thing that bubbles up is low morale. Individuals are indecisive, and there seems to be an increase in complaints and gossip.
The history of liberty is a history of resistance
Buddha said, ‘Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful’.
Can you believe how much time, energy and emotions are involved in resisting to what is? Imagine how much easier it would be to surrender to the change and step into it with a curious mindset. What then?
What if the change were to give you a better life, a better relationship or a better you?
When you stop fighting the change, you have more energy and foresight of the possibilities that may emerge.
So, as a leader, what do you do here?
Remember — in this stage, emotions are high, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration. They are irritated and convinced that the change won’t work, and they are not prepared to give it a go.
We want to show empathy, allow individuals to feel their emotions and then give them the space to vent. Otherwise, it can lead to psychological and physical stress.
All you have to do is listen. Listen 80% of the time, and use the 20% of talking to ask thought-provoking questions.
Explore and discover the powerful ability within you
The third stage is Exploration. In this aspect, we are moving towards acceptance and commitment.
This is where the individual stops fighting the change, recognises the benefits and is more cooperative.
Here, you often hear the individual say, ‘we as a team will find a solution together’, ‘let me see what I can come up with; I’m sure I will have lots of ideas to put towards our project’ or ‘why don’t we give it a go and try it this way to see the result?’ Clearly, they are more inclined to take risks in this phase.
In this development, the individual is testing the waters and undertaking the next steps.
They invest time in planning and coming up with ideas on how they can make this change work. In addition, they are more collaborative with others, offering their insights and sharing their plan of attack.
Exploration is the essence of the human spirit
It is human nature to want to grow, stretch and be challenged. Therefore, exploration is imperative for us to get out of our comfort zones to experience the magic.
We live in an age of universal inquiry about the origins around us and all that moves us into a place of expansion.
As leaders, all we have to do here is encourage the individual with patience because they need to move into this space without force. However, we also need to reward all the right behaviours once they are in this phase.
Acknowledgment, reward and recognition are big in this part of the journey because they can easily slip back into resistance if they don’t feel valued for their hard efforts.
There is a fine balance of input and energy. You want to show support, not force or tell them what to do but give them the freedom to come up with their own ways of moving forward.
Commitment is an act, not a word
Now, we have reached our final phase, which is Commitment.
Commitment is that turning point in your life when you accept the moment and transmute it into an opportunity to transform your destiny.
One of my favourite teachers would always say to stay committed to your decisions but always stay flexible in your approach. This takes a lot of adaptivity, agility and dexterity.
By the time the individual gets to this final destination, they are well and truly looking forward to the future and grateful for all the lessons learned along their journey. They no longer consider the old ways of working, as they have embraced and accepted the new.
They are an advocate of change.
Oftentimes, you will hear them say, ‘I have come a long way and I can’t believe I was resisting the change; I don’t ever want to go back to our old ways of working’ or ‘I have grown so much, I have challenged my thinking and evolved as a human being; I am so happy of what I have become.’
Commitment is the foundation of great accomplishments
Motivation is what gets you started. Commitment is what keeps you going.
In this final phase, as a leader, there is only one very important thing that you must do.
Celebrate the change.
If we don’t reward the right behaviours in the exploration phase and we don’t celebrate the acceptance of the change, we are going to see the individual take a few steps back into denial.
This one is one of the easiest things to do and yet the easiest thing not to do because of time constraints or keeping our eye on what next.
All we have to do is to be present.
Make time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small.
Change can be difficult for some, and although we may be okay with uncertainty and variety, not all are the same.
With patience, empathy and understanding, we can learn to embrace change every single time it crosses our paths to improve our lives.