Lisa and I have just completed our first house move together. It has all gone as well as it could have with lots of help from wonderful people. These things are never easy and without stress, but a few days on we are both feeling very happy and settled in our new home. For various reasons, the move is helpful to the health of both of us and is a clear improvement on our last house so it makes sense despite the inconvenience of moving.
On reflection, this has confirmed something I have been thinking for a while about my attitude to change. It would be very easy to characterise me as opposed to change and in general I am, but there is more to it than that. I am opposed to change and find it difficult when I can see no benefit from the change in question. I find it hard to deal with change for the sake of change or change that has not been properly thought through and evaluated. Ahead of a change I want to know and understand the benefits that the change will deliver.
Unfortunately, much of the change I experience is just to shake things up or to justify someone’s job. After all, if you come into an area as a new manager you need to make your mark and the way to do that is to make changes.
Of course, things can always be improved. I believe in continuous improvement. But there is much that works well and does not need to change. There is no need to change things just for the sake of it or to try the latest trendy notion that will be dismissed as soon as the next one comes along.
Challenging change can be difficult and is often treated with disdain. Defending the present state is easy to portray as being old-fashioned and wanting to retain the past no matter what. If you oppose the change you are accused of being backward, small-minded or lacking vision.
But there is a very easy way of introducing change in a positive way. Explain in advance why it is needed and what the benefits are. Answer the questions those affected have every right to ask. Take people with you through the change, don’t just carry on regardless. And if you can’t explain and justify the change, if you can’t answer the questions, does the change really make sense?
So often change is imposed by people who have no understanding or even interest in the detail of what they are changing and the impact it will have on others. It is easier to dismiss objections as moaning than to actually answer the questions put.
There will likely always be some opposition to change, but an honest approach that properly justifies the change and sets out in advance what success will look like is surely a better way forward.
There is a major deficiency at present of leaders being prepared to give straight answers to questions and the justification for change (or lack of) is one aspect of this.
Why don’t we try just all doing our best, explaining our thinking and accepting that we all make mistakes? Why don’t we try listening to one another? Why don’t we try respecting others and their views? What have we got to lose?