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Guest Post by Tamara Anderson

I received a greeting card a while back, and the front of the card is a picture of a small plant growing up out of the dirt. The caption reads: Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. I think it’s great advice.

It reminds me of a Father’s Day a couple of years ago. I asked my 91-year-old dad where he wanted to go for lunch. I expected him to say Sandy’s Doughnuts or anywhere that serves pancakes and eggs 24/7. Instead, he surprised me. He asked me if I knew of any of those international places in Fargo near where we live. I offered him a few options, and he settled on Thai food.

And you know what?

He and my mom LOVED it! Proving the theory that you’re never too old to embrace change and the rewards are much greater than the risks. And yes, we have gone back for more Pad Thai and Mango with Sticky Rice.

Sometimes change sneaks up on us. Sometimes we know it’s coming. How we respond to it determines the long-term growth, success, and sustainability of our teams and organizations.

So try it. You’ll like it. With these strategies, you and your team can find more to celebrate through change.

Be Open

There are three different ways we approach change. Some of us accept it. Another group of us out-&-out resist it. And the majority of us find ourselves reluctant to change.

I find myself in the accept category. I love the idea of something new, whatever that challenge may be and I enjoy the process of getting there.

These individuals on your team can be your champions you can engage to help to win others over. When you find yourself faced with resistors, you can have a positive impact. You likely know who they will be. Find them and feel them out first before the change is implemented. If you can understand why they feel the way they do, you can minimize their impact.

For those who are reluctant, remember that reluctance isn’t a “no.” It’s a “not yet.” Those who are reluctant just don’t understand the WHY…yet. Help them understand the why and you’ll be on your way to an open environment for change.

Ending, Losing & Letting Go

In his book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges says that people will go through the stages of change at their own pace. The first stage people find themselves in is Ending, Losing and Letting Go.

People enter this initial stage of transition when you first present them with change. This stage is often marked with resistance and emotional upheaval because people are being forced to let go of something that they are comfortable with.

At this stage, people feel a variety of emotions: shock, fear, denial, frustration, a sense of loss, anger. People have to accept that something is ending before they can begin to accept the new idea. If you don't acknowledge the emotions that people are going through, you'll likely encounter resistance throughout the entire change process.

Tips for ending, losing, and letting go: listen empathetically and communicate openly…and often.

Change To Grow

To make change stick, it needs to become part of the fabric of your organization. Your culture determines what and how things get done and your vision and values need to show up in your daily work so people see and understand the Why behind the What.

Be proactive about making efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your organization. That way it feels like it’s part of the culture. And as leaders, your support of the change is critical. Not only for existing leaders but also new leaders you bring on board. Losing the support of leadership will send you back to ending, losing, and letting go.

Let these wise words be your mantra:

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.

Now, what will you do to embrace change? Trust me. Try it. You’ll like it!

Guest Author

Tamara Anderson is a Co-Owner and Team Performance Strategist at Dale Carnegie of ND who aligns business strategies and people practices to drive results.  She has a passion for performance, works to exceed the WOW factor, powers up organizational culture, loves her clients, and expects business results. In a nutshell, she is the fork in the road where culture and strategy meet.

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