Why is Change So Hard (and why do we resist it)?

stick_figure_hand_up_stop_6450In being transparent, I am in the process of rebranding my business, not moving so much away from what I’ve been doing but being more focused on a particular area, or ‘the niche.’ I’ve always resisted being so focused – I’m ‘eclectic, meaning I have a lot of knowledge and experience in a lot of areas. So I’ve always resisted choosing one topic to focus on. It’s has gotten me through ten years.

However, I see how it has held me back in some ways. I’ve also recognized a passion forming for my renewed focus, which is leading me to come the decision that it’s time for some needed renewal. (More to be revealed). Why do I tell this? Because I’m realizing how hard this change can be – a name change, new business cards, new website, targeting marketing efforts, and the like. Although I’m excited by this, I find I’m resistive some days.

Why is change so hard? Why do companies struggle with this? Why do workers struggle with changes made within an organization? Our brains have a lot to do with this (actually all). We’re hard-wired to be in threat-mode: the brain is always searching for any type of threat to our safe environment. When we get into our routines and our habits, that is a safe area. We know what we know – and like it that way.

But when are faced with a situation that is new or, perhaps, we have faced in the past, the brain’s threat center goes off. We then either are faced with the choice of staying in safety or moving to the unknown. Most people choose safety, thereby resisting what is on the other side. While they are in their ‘safe zone,’ they feel frustrated, anxious and, sometime, depressed that they can’t seem to move out of this area.

I find myself slipping back into comfort zones – I know how to deal with my frustrations and, if I allow myself to, I can then attribute my lack of staying put to other people or situations (i.e. it’s too expensive to buy that, or I’ll do it later, or I don’t know how). Sound familiar?

So, as I’m going through my own changes, here are some tips that can help you to move you -or your organization – through any change:

  • Be clear on why the change should occur – often, communication is not conveyed often when a change occurs, which I’m unclear why the resistance.  As communication goes, just because you sent something out does not mean it is heard/interpreted the same way so ensuring the reason for the change is conveyed will help buy-in to the need. I’ve been very bored, quite frankly, with some of the work I’ve been doing so I’m needing change; I also have identified a need that I’m now looking to help with.
  • Identify the benefit for the impact of the intended change – what is the desired result the change will bring? People will accept change more readily if they know it will benefit either them or someone else. How will the change impact the workplace, such as by having less paperwork or being able to leave on time, or will it lead to a happy customer, who will come back and buy or refer others? I see the benefit of my changes as more effective workers and happier workplaces.
  • Plan…Plan….Plan… – moving to something new requires a plan for how the change will occur, including all the steps needed, people, time, money, regulations, paperwork, etc. Without a plan, frustrations will come quicker and excuses will be easier to make. I wrote a new business plan, as well as mind-mapped, for the direction my company is going. I have checklists and a calendar for what I’m doing on a daily basis; the change is feeling easier, which is giving me more excitement and motivation to get the change made soon.
  • Be Patient – don’t rush the process -it is tempting to move through a change quickly to get on with the new, but this actually can stall, or screw up, the new outcome, which could involve money or a brand. Pulling a band-off quickly will hurt but then you’re over it; there will be times that moving quickly through a change will be beneficial but not what I would recommend (unless a new opportunity presents itself that is too good to pass up). Being methodical and following the steps  laid out when planning will ensure that all bases are covered, as well as ease any fears that may arise. I actually am expecting that this process will be painful for me, which is helping me to take my time.
  • Communicate steps needing to be made and update on progress: this is very critical during a change to ensure everyone is aware of what will happen during a change and how things are going. If not, this could open the door to ‘the water cooler’ discussions of what employees think is going on. Having the buy-in will alleviate fears, thereby gaining more acceptance and support. I’ve been through several organizational changes in my past work, where I’ve seen it handled well and not so well; successful change always involved transparency and communication as we moved through. As strange as it sounds, I talk to myself, as well as write/journal, about the changes and validating the direction I’m on as I find this helps keep me focused on daily tasks and validating ‘wins’ I’ve made.
  • Trust and believe in yourself – it is vital to have faith in what you are doing, the decisions being made, and the skills/knowledge/abilities you have to do so. Leaders need to know – and stand behind – their ideas and decisions to make needed change; this applies no matter what you may face, such as backlash from employees or customers/the market. The hard part is going against adversity, which is often what keeps people from living in their comfort zones, as I’ve mentioned. Believe you can and you will. I have to remind myself of this step several times a day, but I feel more empowered and excited – and ready – to make changes in my business.

Moving through a change can be hard and will definitely feel uncomfortable but following my lead and the steps I’m taking will diminish any uncomfortable and resistive feelings while producing acceptance and trust (for any future changes). I’ll be updating my progress so stay tuned.

If you, or your organization, is looking to make a change but find resistance and struggle, let’s talk – contact us at http://www.cyscoaching.com




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