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How do you react to change?

Change happens all the time. But right now, it’s especially visible the pandemic is causing big social and economic disruptions. 

As business owners, we need to lead our teams through this change. How do we take care of employees and customers? What changes are required for us to survive?

There are patterns in how individuals and organisations react to those changes. Good leaders understand these patterns so they can help people navigate change.

Most of us don’t choose change. We get comfortable in our routines, and any detour can be a source of frustration, fear and stress—we prefer the security of what we know.

But change is unavoidable, and how we react to it determines the outcome, good or bad.

There are usually three ways that people react to change:

Be non-active. 

They don’t move forward and stay stuck. They are choosing to see how it plays out, and don’t do anything to respond. Later, when they finally acknowledge that they need to respond, it may be too late.

Be reactive.

They don’t have all the necessary facts but make a decision anyway to eliminate their immediate stress and worry. It’s a knee-jerk reaction.

Be proactive and positive.

They start researching information to make more informed decisions. They ask questions. They analyse the environment and develop a plan to follow.  They put their focus on what they could do, focused on the positive outcomes and took action.

Obviously, the ideal way to deal with change is to be is proactive because you feel more in control. And the more we feel we have control over the situation, the less stress and frustration we feel.

change jjwatt proactive
Are you being proactive and doing whatever it takes, every single day?

How can you be open to change with a result-focused mindset, and encourage your team to do the same?

While we all deal with change on an individual level, the culture of your organisation is vitally important  – it permeates everything you do.

You need to cultivate a culture of adaptability across your business. Everyone must feel empowered and positive – “I will do this, I can do this, I will follow through’.

You, your team, and your business must be agile and flexible. Especially in our current climate.

Easy to say, but how do you choose to be proactive when there is so much riding on making the right decision?

Change is inevitable – accept it and embrace it. 

Change is a part of life. Nothing would exist without change, so you have two options: live in denial, or accept and move on.

Accept your emotions.

Acknowledge your feelings and be patient and  take time to sort through all your emotions and adjust to change. 

See the positives in the situation.

What you focus on is what you get. So focus on the positives, and make the most of every opportunity. 

Take action.

Don’t sit idly by, hesitant to make a decision. Do your due diligence, then decide to move forward and trust the process.  By taking positive action, you will minimise your fear and feel confident that you’re working towards a goal.

When you take action, don’t just do “busy work”. Set goals and systematically work towards achieving them.

Be sure to review and reflect often, but always be focused on the result you need to achieve, and be brutally honest with your progress towards achieving that result.

That is key – it must always be about the results. You must also know that your adaptations are driving results. You can’t just put strategies and processes in place if you don’t know if they work or not.

Ensure your plan is using everybody’s strengths most effectively and productively. If things aren’t going to plan and you could be doing better, identify what changes need to be made.

A part of adapting to change is that things are NEW, therefore you need to be reflecting on how things are going. You need to adopt a culture of continuous improvement. 

We are very much in unchartered waters right now, so reviewing your progress is key.  

Ensure that everybody gets an opportunity to contribute to changes and work in collaboration to achieve your goals.

The more collaborative you are, the better decisions you can make about change and the more buy-in you will have from your team. You cannot achieve it all on your own, so bring everyone in your team on the journey with you.

Finally, I just want to remind you that you have done a tremendous job in a difficult time.  This is something most business owners have never had to go through, so you’ve done a brilliant job so far. 

You’ve adapted, you’ve changed and you’ve worked extremely hard. So, remember to celebrate that! It’s not over yet, but if you can make it this far, you can deal with anything.

Keep working every day like it’s “day one” and remember to celebrate your wins along the way!

Power to you!  

Stefan Kazakis 
CEO, Business Benchmark Group

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