Are you open to change?
If the answer to that question is yes, then great. If not, why not?
Where does that fear or resistance to change in our business environment come from?
It comes partly from a cognitive, almost romantic, bias to the way things are and have been for a long time. If you were instrumental in shaping how things currently are then the subconscious, cognitive bias is likely to be even stronger.
Fear also comes from the mis-conception that, while change is ‘happening’, productivity slows or even stops.
Lastly, the state of flux that is part and parcel of making a change is always going to seem like a less comfortable time for us. The ground may feel less firm under our feet and the surroundings a little less familiar, what is left of our primal instincts will always be sending us signals to return to where we were more comfortable.
So how do we address these fears? One important factor to remember is that being ‘open to change’ doesn’t mean you are going to ‘make a change’. The route to change should be full of check points, validation exercises and ongoing appraisals about the new paths you might take. This should ensure that the steps you take feel like they are being taken on firmer ground, with more ‘knowns’ than ‘unknowns’. Knowing how to manage the route to a potential change is what will give you the confidence to be open to change in the first place.
Having a well planned and managed route to change should also ensure that productivity is not critically effected. Identifying why you want to make a change and what the long term benefits are will also help here. Having a true cost-benefit analysis should allay the fears you have about any short term effects on productivity.
The first point about cognitive bias is probably the hardest one to address. Our ego is a complicated beast and can wreak havoc if you are not aware of when and how it may be calling the shots. In scenarios where our environment or way of doing things is put under scrutiny by others it is quick to jump into defensive mode, even if we are not actually being attacked yet! It can have us denying our faults and resisting the prospect of change without us being aware of it.
It is such a powerful instinct and reaction that you will be unlikely to stop it from ever being triggered but you can limit the effect it has on your openness to change. Being aware of the ego is a good first step but another helpful tip is to practice ‘Self-Affirmation’ so that when your ego is spiked, you recognise that it is not your core beliefs and values that are being challenged. It is a practice developed by Claude Steel in the 1980’s and works on the basis that if you have affirmed what your life values and make up are then when someone starts to review a business process you developed you appreciate that it is on the periphery of your core being and so doesn’t grate as much.
So instead of asking “are you open to change?” you may be better off asking “are you open to learn?” as the journey to any lasting change should be an educated and measured one. The answer to this new question is a much harder one to answer “no” to and will make sure you aren’t passing up an exciting and profitable opportunity.