Change is Always Good
“People hate change,” we are lectured, as though it is a law of physics. Change is constant, change is expected, change is inevitable, but people will always resist it. Managers are told to expect that a certain percentage (17% or so) of employees will resist, block, and obstruct change no matter what. Oh well, those employees may have to go.
I’ve been to countless meetings with the same depressing message. Much of management training involves using various techniques to get “buy in.” Not once have any of the meetings talked about the nature of change itself, only about managing negative reactions.
Indeed, the workplace environment is always changing at all layers:
- Personal - your life changes (marital status, health problems, etc.) can affect your job.
- Internal - absences, terminations, resignations, hires, promotions, flirtations, and fighting can all change workplace dynamics.
- Organizational - the above happens at all levels within your organization, in addition to process, service, and structural changes.
- External - regulations, reimbursement, competition, customers, and anything else that affects what comes in and out your front doors can change things.
It seems a sweeping exaggeration to say people hate change if it really is happening at all levels all the time to varying degrees. I haven’t observed this to the extent I’ve been told to expect it. Optimists shrug and pessimists gripe, but everyone I deal with in the workplace seems to get the idea that “change” -- whatever it is -- happens and ends up being the next thing only to change again. We get it.
Maybe, what needs to change is the expectation that people will always see change as a negative thing. It sometimes is, mostly doesn’t matter so long as we know what it is, and often isn’t. We all can adapt with remarkable speed to any change, small and large, because it is part of the job.
Change is always good. Whatever changes -- personnel, structure, equipment, regulation, etc. -- the workplace adapts. An attitude that change is good changes expectations, helping to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of success.
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