Fear Is Activated By Change

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We hear so often that companies want change.  We also might say we want change.  Companies may spend a lot to hire talented people, consultants, set up team building, or even subscribe to a business guru to create their mission statement and provide a guiding tool for others to follow.  We do this in our own personal life as well.  How many gadgets, memberships, seminars and books did we purchase to lose weight, manage our money, or find love?

However, what often happens?  We give up.  The pain of hard work and the discomfort of change can quickly overtake internal desire.  In companies, we often find leaders who use fundamentals for everyone else to follow, so they can do more of whatever they want, leaving teams feeling manipulated.  We say we want change, and we may even start to change, but are we really willing to go the course?

Change activates fear. When we understand this, then we can be more effective.  We can expect a backlash either internally from our fear based chatter, or externally, when we start to make changes.  Personal change is they key in both personal goals and business goals.  Want to be an effective leader, then challenge yourself first to make changes and stretch beyond your current comfort zone!

Here’s the thing, if you hire someone audacious and strong enough to tackle needed changes, then expect disruption.  Expect the complaint department to get busier in the short run (90 – 180 days often being the roughest patch)!  So often talent is brought in to create change, which everyone agrees is needed, but the “changer” becomes the scapegoat.

The first thing you will notice with radical change is that malcontents deflect their own poor performance with accusations ” he/she has created a hostile work environment, a disharmonious culture, or is only out for themselves”.  If you read the HR reports of change makers they all start to look the same.  The change maker is not creating a hostile environment, they are creating change which activates fear and causes discomfort.  The malcontents are on cruise control and they don’t want to be disturbed.

According to a recent Gallup poll nearly half your team are disengaged while 18 percent are actively disengaged.

Leadership may start to question their decision as change activates fear and can lead to what borders on mass hysteria; particularly in stagnant cultures like universities and governments!  The complaints roll in, the apple cart has toppled and right at the pinnacle of disruption….  We pull the plug to make it all stop.  This often leaves an ever bigger mess than allowing things to complete their cycle.  If top leadership buckles and malcontents gain control, they will push out productive leaders, and the culture remains the same ineffective annoyance its grown to become over time.

A culture, where someone too comfortable and/or too afraid to make a change and go find their bliss hangs around.  They disguise their tenure as “loyalty” and use their “loyalty” as a license to justify mediocrity while seething with resentment just below the passive veneer of total disengagement.

If you’re an owner reading this, don’t go fire everyone and give yourself a free pass either!  You need to change as well.  Why do you let them hang around?  If they’ve been loyal and you want to keep them, then call them up right now and ask them what working for you has done for them and to them after all these years.  What are some things they want to see change in your relationship.  They may be too scared to tell you, so you have to keep asking and keep creating space to listen (without getting defensive or dismissive).

That’s the second failing to organizational change, not applying the principles yourself you wish to see in your teams.  If you value someone for their tenure but know you’ve tolerated too much for too long, then give them a years pay and send them on their way!  Stop tolerating mediocrity while pushing for radical change because it’s a mixed message to your teams and will create a block or slow down of the growth of your company.  Universities, churches and governments are wrought with mediocrity because tenure often breads disengagement.

The key to keeping long term team members engaged is to move them around, give them new challenges, reward them with high pay and time off to be creative.  If you keep your organizations too lean, then crisis management is going to trump creativity and time for strategic planning.

Change makers are by nature curious.  They ask a lot of questions.  They are often instigators, reformers and creators.  Support them.  They are frequently highly evolved and deeply self reflective and will adjust their style to meet the challenges ahead.  They can be very insightful so talk to them often and bring them new challenges because no matter how busy they are, they seem to make time for whatever you bring them.

Their natural curiosity organically leads them to the tap root of causation which allows their creativity to develop meaningful solutions.  They cut through static and provide clarity to the most complex social and organizational structures.  They will become an expert in the protocols and processes of other departments and other organizations with very limited interaction because they seek understanding as a logical synergism to efficient work flow.

Change makers must also be careful to pace themselves.  They do not suffer fools.  Remind them their impatience might cause unnecessary drama that may slow down their goals.  If you are dealing with a young or insecure change maker they will need a lot of guidance.  Gently help them see where they are too clinical, too intense, too aggressive or push too hard.  The more entrenched the culture, the more patient and mindful they must be.  Most importantly they must not be dismissive.  This is an achilles heal for MOST leaders who have dismiss a lot of noise to stay clear but who might fall into coming across as having little empathy or leaving others with the idea they are not valued.

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