Change may be life's only constant, but unexpected change is tricky for everyone.
You speak. WEST listens! By popular request, the next WESTevent is a workshop on how to own unexpected change. We're talking to Claudette Rowley about handling the change you didn't see coming. Change that is beyond our control. Change that we did not instigate and cannot avoid.
Got 3 minutes? Read on to learn how to do a quick self-assessment of your change management skills.
Workshop or not, this mental check-in is an easy opportunity for personal optimization. And isn't continuous personal development a core component of successful humaning?
Step 1: Inventory your default settings for change management.
This is a two-part question. Your inner voice and your external projection are often quite different. Think about what you said to your four-year-old after that minor fender bender. How did that compare to the shock, relief, frustration and four-letter words running through your mind at the same time?
- Part 1: How do I handle change internally? What's my inner narrative? And, what's my tone of inner voice?
- Part 2: How do I handle change externally? What do I project? What do I present to others?
Step 2: Grow beyond just handling change. Own it! Turn it into something positive? Transform unexpected change into a benefit.
We've all had that moment of 20-20 hindsight when we realize that that our reaction had a bigger impact than the change itself. It's followed by the question that sticks with use the longest.
A strategic response to change flips the timing of that oh-so-crucial question. Strategic change management begins by asking that question, instead of waiting until the debrief.
Strategy is process, a framework that you can fit to each situation. You have a workflow to minimize the blackhole that is your InBox after a holiday. Strategy is the workflow for managing unexpected change like boss. It’s an adaptable framework that you have on-hand to keep you moving forward even when the direction of your motion is unclear.
Now, we all know–maybe it's you–people who are naturally strategic. They think, respond and act strategically without conscious effort. But the rest of us, probably most of us, must learn to respond strategically. And that’s great. Because that’s totally doable for all of us.
Strategic thinking is a skillset, a system of thought. And it's something that we can all develop with study and conscious practice. It's no different that cultivating mindfulness or mastering public speaking. With genuine effort, benefits will follow.
Sometimes the unexpectedness of a change magnifies its impact. 'Even super-smart, competent professionals can get so caught up in their reaction that they never move. They get stuck there,' explains Claudette. 'None of us can respond strategically when we’re triggered like that. We can have deep emotional responses that are justified, especially if the change isn’t done well. But we need to grieve that and then move on.’
Strategy is the bridge from point A–where I am now–to B–where I want to be? Not just, ‘How do I deal with this?’ Strategy accepts that the change is happening, and looks forward to ask, 'Given this reality, what’s my vision for success?’