Getting through transition

Photo courtesy of Merecedes Nelson (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Merecedes Nelson (Creative Commons)

Change is inevitable. It is often slow, unpleasant, and challenging, But it can also be welcome, quick and exciting.

And what I find is that how I approach it means all the difference in my own mental capacity to embrace it and that in turn leads to how I present it in a positive light to others.

We are in a period of transition at my work, with many job responsibilities changing, staff moving into different offices, and adjustments to schedules that are impacting just about everyone in the office. Understandably, there is a lot of groaning about why things have to always change, etc. but what I notice most is that when we emphasize that we are moving toward a better situation, and focus on the improvements in environment and spread of duties, people are more accepting.

I’ve overheard some conversations between individuals who only emphasize the negative aspects of the changes – hard to get used to, always different, something new to learn, struggling to accept the new ways – even as they admit that the old ways were difficult. It’s just something new to have to learn and they can’t get past that.

When I’ve explained to these folks how and why the changes will make things better – and life easier – they suddenly realize that maybe it’s not so bad after all, especially when they realize the impact down the road.

For instance, as a nonprofit, we operate a thrift store that brings in funds that are then used to help people in need in our community. Many of the donated items sit on the shelves for months (or sometimes even years) without being purchased, because there is a continual flow of new products. We are going to start dating the items, so that at a certain point we can pull those items that have been on the shelf for a certain amount of time and offer them at sale prices in order to make room for more of the newer (well, newly donated) items.

There was some grumbling about why we had to do that, and how much trouble that would be to put a sticker on everything, etc. etc. But when we looked at the flip side – that it would end up bringing more money to the ministry by not only moving more things out the door, but making room to display the more desirable, freshly donated items so that they too sell (and possibly at higher prices), everyone realized the value in the process of changing.

No one likes change just for the sake of change, but if we can see the advantages, it certainly makes it easier to accept. And if you are communicating changes to your team, pay attention to how you are framing that explanation – are you explaining the benefits? Your assurances of the positive aspects of the changes could make all the difference in how your team accepts those changes and moves ahead with them.

How can you better communicate about changes your team needs to embrace?