Managing change hasn’t changed

I just read the book, Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson.

By Richard L. Dunn , Editor September 1, 2000

I just read the book, Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson. In this parable, two mice and two “little people” learn about themselves and how they react to change when the supplies of cheese they depend on are suddenly moved from one location in a maze to another. While the book’s presentation is new, much of the advice offered has been around for years.

Accept change. We have to accept that change is inevitable. And the sooner we can let go of the old ways, the faster we can move on. But we have to be willing to let go. One CEO, faced with a change-or-go-out-of-business situation, told me, “First, you have to look death in the face and admit that things really are that bad.” That may be an overstatement for most of us, but the basic point-we have to accept the need for change-is universal.

Anticipate change. Looking for change, whether you spot it or not, will give you a better chance of dealing with it successfully once it does pop up. Looking for change reduces the fear and resistance.

Encourage teamwork. When teams are properly formed and supported, they can offer numerous advantages in dealing with change. Teams can provide conduits of communication both up and down the ladder as well as across various functions. Teams foster interdependence among the members as well as commitment, pride, ownership, participation, involvement, and camaraderie-all positives in dealing with change.

Invite involvement. Involvement is the participation of employees in influencing the change and in making things happen. Research indicates that participation generally leads to commitment, not just compliance. People support what they help create, and involvement is a method for getting people to help in the creation of something new. This statement does not mean that managers abdicate their responsibilities for decision making; they actually gain power by asking people what they think.

Open communications. Substantial research says if people know what’s coming, even if it’s bad, they feel better than if they don’t know what’s coming. So one of the initiator’s primary jobs in managing change is to try to let people know what’s coming.

It all seems quite confusing. While the only constant may be change, dealing with change hasn’t changed much.