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How To: Navigate Change When Change Is The Only Constant

Navigate Change

Change fatigue is real. As organizations have had to navigate monumental shifts in the way they approach business, employees have experienced an abundance of transitions in their:

  • Office space
  • Routine
  • Processes and procedures
  • Workplace relationships
  • Collaboration and communication practices
  • Company culture

While some adjustments have been more gradual, others have had to take place at a speed that for some may feel jarring. As we try to look forward, it can feel overwhelming to both continue to navigate a “new normal” while recognizing that significant adaptations in how we do business are still to come.

As I said, change fatigue is real, and leaders, managers, and colleagues have an opportunity to support one another through these adjustments and help all employees adapt in a healthy way.

One of the best pieces of advice I can share as you navigate change is to work through your strengths. When you can use tools like the Emergenetics® Profile to understand the ways that you prefer to think and behave, you can lean into those gifts that come naturally to support your own resiliency – even when you may find yourself exhausted by another transition.

As you support yourself, your team, or your organization during times of change, consider the Emergenetics Attributes outlined below to utilize the tactics that resonate most with your preferred style of working (or that of your team members) to empower adaptability for yourself and others.

Analytical thinkers tend to gravitate toward data and ask the burning question “Why?”

If that approach resonates with you, give yourself time to think about the changes you experience. Ask questions to learn about the reasoning behind them and spend time finding your own intention for adopting. When you can give yourself a “why,” you will be more motivated to manage the transition.

If your teammate demonstrates a preference for Analytical thinking, consider the following:

  • Provide reasoning or data to support changes occurring in your sphere of influence
  • Be open to and proactively ask questions
  • Recognize that question asking isn’t necessarily resistance as much an opportunity for clarity on, and maybe even improvements to, the transformations they are encountering

The Structural Attribute typically appreciates a defined process and asks “How?”

For those with a Structural preference, it can be helpful to develop a workable plan to find the way through change. As processes or approaches adapt, consider identifying detailed action steps to help you embrace new realities and ways of working.

If your teammate exhibits a preference for Structural thought, consider the following:

  • Provide detail and context whenever possible
  • Offer next steps and timetables
  • Remember that this Attribute may appear cautious of change, so consider how you might use their methodical approach to bridge gaps that may occur

Social thinkers are often intuitive about people and ask the burning question of “Who?”

If you have a preference for Social thinking, you may be better able to adapt when you can work through changes with others. Try connecting with trusted colleagues to discuss your feelings about transitions and partner together to support one another as you navigate the impacts.

If your teammate displays a preference for Social thought, consider the following:

  • Share personal stories to help them process changes
  • Discuss the impact change may have on others
  • Be mindful that you may get an emotive response so offer empathy and a listening ear to support them

The Conceptual Attribute typically is energized by possibilities and asks, “What if?”

If that question resonates with you, you may find yourself appreciating the possibilities stemming from change – and it could still be wearing on you. To continue to find energy through ups and downs, try picturing the new opportunities and positive feelings that may arise.

If your teammate has a preference for Conceptual thought, consider the following:

  • Lean into the energy they bring to transitions to help inspire others
  • Invite them to be an early adopter, as they tend to have an experimental nature
  • Recognize that they may lose interest in execution and help them keep going by reminding them of the possibilities ahead

Expressiveness describes the outward display of emotions

For those in the first third who tend to process information internally, allow yourself time and space to independently think through the transformations and their impacts.

If you are working with a first-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Provide the full scope in writing when possible
  • Allow for silence in meetings to give people time to process the information they are receiving for the first time
  • Offer a way to share input outside of a group setting

For those in the third-third who tend to process information externally, try finding a sounding board who can help you work through your thoughts.

If you are working with a third-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Provide a forum to share feedback
  • Remember that what they say initially may not be where they land as they talk through their thoughts
  • Offer ways for them to share input after the conversation

Assertiveness describes the style and pace with which you advance thoughts, feelings, and beliefs

For those in the first third who tend to be more peacekeeping, try building an incremental plan to help you gradually adapt at a steady pace.

If you are working with a first-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Use a gentle approach when communicating about change
  • Offer opportunities to build consensus among the group
  • Be mindful of the pace that is truly needed and when possible, allow individuals to adapt on their time. If a fast pace is required, be honest about the expectations.

For those in the third-third who tend to appreciate a direct approach, consider creating a competition to energize the implementation of transformations.

If you are working with a third-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Address conflict openly and quickly
  • Offer ideas for stretch goals that promote a speedy implementation
  • Be mindful of the pace that is needed to enact change as those in the third-third may push to go quicker than is necessary or comfortable for the team. Be direct in instances when it’s appropriate to slow down.

Flexibility describes the willingness to accommodate the thoughts and actions of others

For those in the first third who often prefer to stay the course, recognize that changes rarely go as anticipated and take time to understand the rationale behind new directions.

If you are working with a first-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Explain the new information that sparked any suggested redirection
  • Communicate the finality or uncertainty of new adaptations as appropriate
  • Try to stay the course as much as possible once decisions are made

For those in the third-third who tend to accommodate change readily, you may continue to find energy throughout this process by identifying additional opportunities.

If you are working with a third-third teammate, consider the following:

  • Communicate whether the direction is final or has potential for further iterations
  • Offer opportunities for them to provide feedback for modifications
  • Recognize that they may hesitate to commit as new ideas are generated, so work with them to help narrow options when a decision needs to be made

We are all aware that change will continue to come out of the external circumstances of 2020, the innovations that companies implement to respond to challenging times, and ongoing transformations in the market. By implementing our recommendations for yourself and your team members, you can help your organization navigate transitions while limiting the exhaustion that stems from it.

I also encourage any Organizational Development or Learning & Development professionals to revisit a recent blog post by my colleague Sharon Taylor, providing tips to use L&D to support change management.

As a final recommendation, give yourself grace, space, and time. Consider what activities help re-energize you – whether that’s meditation, exercise, visualization, taking time off, or recharging with friends and family. When you take care of your mental and emotional health – and employ the tactics above – you can help yourself thrive in times of change.

This article is originally published on Emergenetics.

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