Change Management Requires Acceptance, Courage and Grace in Business and at Work


You don’t really get to the heart of the art of Change Management until you’re in front of a room of 100+ people shouting their displeasure with a new system at you. In that moment, I knew:

  • Acceptance. They weren’t mad at me personally. They were mad at a system that was difficult for them to understand and integrate into their complex business process. I empathized with their real and relevant frustration. When enacting a change, this is a universally common and very human reaction to change. Knowing and accepting that fact helped keep the situation objective for me, and not personal.
  • Mediation of needs. Even though their voices were raised, I heard their needs underneath their yelling (thanks to my mediation training – e.g., that the source of all human conflict is needs met and unmet) loud and clear. It helped clarify and prioritize next steps to support potential solutions.
  • Courage (Not the absence of fear – feeling the fear and doing it anyway). I also heard their fear of failure if the new system didn’t work for them. The process was periodically uncomfortable for me, too. It stretched the safety limits of my curiosity at times; however the learning was career-changing to the positive.
  • Grace and More Acceptance. Because I knew and accepted objectively that they were mad at the changes and accompanying work that the new system was causing them, I stayed calm and did not yell back. I just kept validating their fear, discomfort and needs. I also knew going into my Change Management work on this project that they were an employee population who historically resisted change more assiduously than the average employee. For example, when computers were introduced to this workforce over 25 years before this new system, many employees retired or quit rather than learn how to use a computer. Typewriters suited them just fine.

How will you successfully navigate / manage the constant changes for you and your team this week and into the future, in support of everyone’s success in business and at work?

2014-09-14 21.18.29

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