Having a fear of change is common, especially when the change is something outside of our control. Change can evoke feelings of anxiety and self-doubt that can really play games with our minds and often prevents us from taking action. The change doesn’t have to be significant to trigger fear. Often it can be as simple as changing a habit that will cause the self-doubt to kick in and the fear to take over preventing any action being taken. Given changing a habit is within our control, when we are talking about change within our workplace you can understand the level of fear that comes into play because for most it is out of our control.
This fear of change can be problematic for organisations and something that leaders need to be highly conscious of and manage well given the amount of changed and disruption we have been experiencing in most industries. Business can’t stand still for any period of time any more. It needs to be constantly evolving, adapting, improving and innovating to stay relevant which inevitably means changes to structure, operations and ‘how we do things around here’ which can make employees feel very uncomfortable.
One of the biggest challenges around change is the communication of it. How the change is communicated is key to how it is embraced. Naturally, any change within an organisation means employees will question what it means for them and this is something that must be addressed immediately if leaders want to prevent the rumour mill from running hot. We all know how damaging that can be.
One thing to remember, is the change doesn’t have to be significant to trigger fear. Change of any amount can be unsettling.
Which is why it’s so important to create an anchor through change and a great anchor is your North Point, meaning the vision, culture and the purpose for your organisation, which remains your constant throughout change. So whilst strategies, systems and process may evolve the North Point remains the constant.
This North Point then makes it much easier for leaders to communicate change to their team. If they can align the change back to what it means for North Point and then in turn what it means for the employees then the uptake can be improved significantly. It’s important to be constantly talking about change so employees get used to this. According to Gallop, if employees are accustomed to a culture of change, they are less likely to feel threatened or overwhelmed when new initiatives require them to adapt.
Talking to the North Point often can also create enthusiasm about the future too. If leaders can generate excitement about the future of their organisation it can really assist in mobilising people and generating momentum.
The fear of change can be managed well within organisations when and if we choose to take the time to paint a carefully crafted picture with the colour and the context that is required. This will enable those going through it to see and understand what it means for them and the organisation they have poured their hearts and minds into. Keep them focused on the bigger picture, your north point, and communicate often, even when there is nothing to communicate about the change, communicate that!