Most people don’t embrace change. It can be difficult. It’s so much easier to dig our heels in and be inflexible. It’s a great offense. Inflexible people are left alone. They are too difficult to deal with. Leave Joe alone, he’ll never get on board with this idea. Pretty soon the world is dancing around Joe because they don’t want to deal with his stubbornness. He’s out of the loop.
Organizations do this as well. It’s easy to get caught up in “doing it the way we have always done it” mentality. It’s hard to create change. Especially in long established businesses. Unless there is a business necessity (imperative), it’s so much easier to keep it status quo. It’s the path of least resistance. Why do a leadership initiative? Incentive plan? Enter a new market? If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.
I’ve been traveling this past week. I live in Eastern North Carolina. The land of free parking, no sidewalks and a six-mile commute with one red light. Every time I head to New York City, I need to load up on coins, cash and the capacity to adapt (easily). In the last six days I’ve been through twenty toll booths. Some took $.90, others $12.30. I needed to be flexible. The GPS was lost half the time because of new construction or, in the case of downtown Trenton, they didn’t have roads on their map. We needed to just go with the flow. Or as my son, who was my copilot at the time said, “Read the signs.” What a concept. Read the signs. If I’d had my heels dug in, I’d still be in Trenton. Actually, I’d be on an off ramp in Baltimore in the fetal position.
So, how do you embrace change? Break out of the status quo. Here are 6 steps to dig out those heels.
1. Scan. As in scan the environment. Are those around you avoiding you? Have you been invited to be on an ad hoc committee? Are you out of the loop? Are you still wearing bell bottoms? Are you stuck in Trenton? Your coworkers are perfectly happy to leave you in the dust if you are not open to change. Nobody likes to associate with “Debbie Downer”. Take the temperature of your environment and see if you are reading the signs.
2. Survey. Take a poll. What do your closest friends think? Ask your boss. Ask your husband. Ask your mother (OK…I know I’m pushing it a little far). “Do I seem open to new ideas?” Perception is reality. If you are perceived as a stick in the mud, you probably are a stick in the mud.
3. Listen. When you survey, you need to be open enough to listen. If you ask the question, you need to be able to listen to the answer. In fact, if you aren’t willing to listen, don’t even ask. One of the most counter-productive exercises is for an organization to do an employee survey and then do nothing.
4. Plan. So what can you do about the perception? You’re going to need to take a hard look at yourself and start paying attention to the “signs.” Maybe you need to work on not interrupting or your need to be right all the time. Maybe you’re going to need to back off from being in control all the time. Maybe you just need to buy some new clothes. Yeah. Seersucker is dead and so are bell bottoms.
5. Start digging out. One shovel at a time. There is no magic pill. This is going to take work and all you can do is start. One interaction at a time. I remember that when I first started working on showing more appreciation, I missed the boat several times. I’d forget to thank my assistant for getting the report done so quickly or my husband for taking out the trash. But at least I started somewhere and I can tell you that now I am much more consistent about showing appreciation. But I had to take that first step.
6. Reflect. You can do this in any form you like. Maybe in a journal, meditating or brushing your teeth. How are you doing? Do you feel like you are making strides? Are you getting positive feedback? Are you getting less negative feedback? Maybe you were selected for the next ad hoc committee. Maybe you didn’t overreact when you ended up getting off at the wrong exit. Congratulate yourself. You are on your way.
What would you do?