Why You Should Prepare for Change – and HOW.
It’s one thing to envision where you want to be, but it’s quite another to put the steps in place to get there as smoothly as possible. Even if this involves a change as seemingly small as getting a new haircut, going vegan, or changing bank, there are a few things to consider before you take the plunge.
This is why people talk about ‘preparing for change’. And this goes beyond making sure that you are doing the right thing and ensuring that you are going to stick to the veganism, say, once you have committed to it. It’s as much about minimising the negative effects on people around you too, as well as making sure that you are in the right place to go through with it yourself.
In the context of business, all of this applies just the same. So, if you are considering a big restructuring soon, or if you are determined to take the organisation in a different direction, take stock of the ramifications for everyone. Keep the aim clear in sight. And prepare for your change.
What’s Affected by Change?
According to the life coach, Mike Bundrant, there are five aspects to yourself that you will need to consider when going ahead with your desired transformation. These apply equally whether such a transformation is in business or your personal life.
- Who are you?
- What do you value? And what motivates you to do the things you do?
- HOW do you do those things you do? What are your skills?
- What roles do you play, and what are the specific things you do?
- Who is around you, and where and when do you behave in certain ways?
These five points, says Bundrant, help to focus the things that are going to be affected by the change you are seeking to make. And a change to any of the points is going to affect the way we might answer the questions related to any other.
So, say you wanted to change a specific behaviour; say you wanted to work less. Whilst this is a direct change to ‘behaviour’, it is going to have a direct impact on your environment, your capabilities perhaps, and will shape other different behaviours too.
I help people as an outsourced COO, by overseeing some of the operations of the business. I instantly give the owner back HOURS of time as they no longer need to deal with these elements! Not to mention a little more energy now they are not getting bogged down in the day to day operations and are able to spend more time with their families! Your behaviours will change (obviously!) because you won’t be working as much – so you might cook more, start a new hobby, join the gym or a running club (and so gain new capabilities!).
Throughout this, the change may well have been motivated by your identity or beliefs. You may value your family more than anything else, and this is the motivation for your change. But how might you see your identity differently if you do not work as much as you used to? This commonly comes up for people when they begin delegating tasks that only they used to do in there business: a bit of an identity crisis occurs.
As you can see, thinking through these five points puts in focus the different ramifications your change will have.
How to Prepare for Change?
Once you have considered the ways these changes will require you to reassess other parts of your life, you can go ahead and start preparing for the change you are hoping to make.
This means planning: having the resources – practical and emotional – in place to make sure you can get where you need to be.
Be clear about your goal.
What is the change you are making, why are you doing it, and what will you accept as a successful change? (As Brené Brown might say, what does done here look like?)
Clarity on these questions is key, because people often don’t know what a change will entail, how big it might be, or how long it might take. Many don’t even know fully if they even want that change themselves.
So, one of the main parts of the process of coming to prepare for change is sitting down and meditating on what the desired state might be. What benefits is it going to bring you in the long run?
Aim for action – but prepare for pain.
As David Allen once told us, detailed action plans are essential prerequisites to any project. This applies to transformations too. Plans enable you to prepare for change.
The more detailed the plan the better, chunked down into manageable and concrete tasks with regular milestones and places at which you can review and congratulate yourself for your progress. This is particularly important if the change you are making is pretty major, as clear progress points can make your journey into the unknown a little less scary.
As we’re on the topic of scary, part of your action plan should include ideas for what happens when things go a little awry. How do you respond if your employees aren’t happy about the change? Or, if you’ve gone vegan, what happens if someone offers you some chocolate? These obstacles are the things that make or break a change.
Keep focused on your vision.
I recently discussed Moran and Lennington’s advice on planning, which puts the notion of vision at the heart of any successful plan.
This is not just about what your change will look like. More specifically, it is about asking yourself how your change will make you more aligned to your larger aspirations. Because it is these ultimately that matter – and with your eyes on the prize, you will find the pain of change much easier in the long run.
In the words of Viktor Frankl – Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.