The People Side of Change: How we screw it up and what to do instead.

Published On: May 13, 2020
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Whether you manage a team, a small herd of your own offspring, or just yourself, change can throw us for a loop. Adjusting to change is hard enough without the added burden of our own dumb decisions impacting the people around us. But we do it anyway…

How We Screw It Up

Yup. I said it. I make dumb decisions on how I interact with others in times of change. I can just hear my husband laughing when he reads this. Guess what? So does he (sorry). 

So do you.

When it comes to the people side of change, we are all subject to the same screw ups that everyone else is. It is human nature to resist change, be blind to its potential consequences and harbor the wish to get to the other side quicker. Why can’t we just fast forward to the “happily adjusted” phase anyway!

Here are a few ways we can screw it up:

At work: (Overconfidence) Comfort with your team’s daily routine might lead you to force through a change without a second thought or even a courtesy announcement. Later, you discover your team is upset and feels alienated. Had you managed this change better could this conflict have been avoided? 

At home: (Lack of preparation) As a parent, you are initiating change that is for your child’s own good (in justifiable parent speak) but they don’t perceive it that way at all and are in a fit of rage. Another conflict that could have been avoided…

For yourself: (Closed to feedback) You think that you are sailing through a time of change just fine, but those around you keep telling you that your actions are stinking it up big time; and you are like, what? I’m totally fine. Had you managed your reaction to change better could those around you been spared the pain of your inevitable heart attack?

3 Dumb Decisions That Impact the People Side of Change

  1. Deciding that a lack of preparation is justified because you don’t want delays. It’s ironic, but avoiding the people side of change doesn’t actually help you get results faster, it guarantees you will poison the well. Undoing damage caused by poorly implemented changes simply takes more time. Besides, who really wants to manage subversive hostility, outright anger, or a loss of trust when it is easier to just prevent it? What to do instead: Don’t give potential negativity time to fester. Take action at the front. 
  1. Deciding that people don’t need to know everything. Realistically, you are not always able to share some information. People will understand disclosure limitations but will not respond well to deliberate fact hiding and vagueness. What to do instead: Share openly and often so people can feel secure there is transparency. When you cannot share something, say so. 
  1. Deciding that you do not need to prepare before announcing a change. When change is imminent, do not be lazy or careless in how you announce it. What to do instead: Since pushback is a normal reaction to even the smallest change, don’t take offense when it occurs. Anticipate potential concerns and communicate openly to defuse them.

Taking action on the people side of change is ultimately a decision that can get you better results. What will you decide to do?

Learn how SystemRxM™ uses the people side of change here.

Lori Krings is the Director of Change Management at Failure Prevention Associates and co-creator of the SystemRxM™ program.

about author

Dave Krings

In 2008, Dave authored the first remotely coached Maintenance Process Optimization Program to help maintenance professionals battle the invisible system behind the scenes that, if left unchecked, undermines production and reliability.