In the current VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguos) environment we need to keep our workforce agile and updated. The rapidily changing scenario demands we shift gears at the same pace. But we are often faced with challenges from the staff when a change is introduced in the system. Bringing about a transformation in people’s behavior is a herculean task.
Change is hard, it is not something people will want to accept willingly. As the saying goes “Man is a slave of his habits”. Given a choice, not many of us would like to rock our boats, if the sailing is smooth. People are unwilling to step out of their comfort zone, and why would anyone do so, unless they have no choice left?
Change can be difficult. To bring about a transformation in people we have to understand their behavior. Easier said than done!
So, how do we address this transformation challenge?
In life, most of us have faced a dilemma of making difficult choices, and we would have felt some mixed emotions. To understand this, we categorize transformation in 4 emotional buckets. This helps us draw parallels when workplace introduces a change. The 4 stages are
DENIAL ANGER COMMITMENT ACCEPTANCE
We try to gauge the transformation through the following queries
- HOW do we define change?
- We also need to identify WHAT gets changed in the process.
- A deeper understanding of WHY do we need to change
- WHAT IF we resist the change?
To define change – we need to identify the current behavior of people and what is the desired change we want them to exhibit in future. Once this gap is identified, it will become easier for people to relate to the gap and understand the need for transformation. In the initial phase accepting that a Gap exist is also a challenge, as we are not willing to acknowledge that anything can be wrong. There is a deeper connotation –we may be asking for a change in habits, attitude, the entire belief system of the individual. This is stage 1 – Denial
At Stage 2 – We witness resentment, anger, blame, anxiety and attrition. All these are exhibited behavior when the transformation picks momentum in spirit in the organisation in the form of policy and process. The individual feels threatened.
The first 2 stages are the most difficult to handle as people see their belief system crumbling. The organisation must address the first 2 stages very quickly through regular meetings and counselling to contain resentment, so that it does not become deep rooted and eventually the transitioning is smooth.
Once the rationale of “why the need to change” is explained /clarified the individual moves to the level of acceptance. They are now open to the trade-off between their own growth and organisations growth. They are able to identify pros and cons of the change and willing to support the change. The catalyst is, the individual is clearly able to relate to the benefits – “how this will help “ME”.
What if we resist– The workforce is made aware of the threats that prevail in the VUCA environment and how keeping pace will help the organisation survive and compete in future. Everyone is included and made part of larger vision which the organisation wished to create. Once the buy-in happens the transformation journey is complete. The workforce is now ready for a new commitment to rise and takeon new challneges.
It is now time, again, for the organisation to corroborate and measure their progress. To instill a sense of security, confidence and pride, the organisation will initially set short term goals, which the workforce can successfully achieve. This will instill a sense of achievements and boost the morale. Eventually, the long term and bigger goals can be introduced.
Change is the only constant in life.