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When Change Becomes Overwhelming – How to Get Through It
It may seem a little strange to think of, but one of the wisest mindsets to dealing with change without becoming overwhelmed is the words of the serenity prayer.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This may seem to simplify matters a little too much when it comes to the barrier to innovation; after all, if we see barriers as ‘things we cannot change’ then this could dampen innovation, but the message itself and the mindset behind it could help with the feeling of stress and anxiety throughout the change process.
As a leader in a working environment, you may be faced with changes that not only leave you worried, perhaps about your own ability to manage but managing the expectations of those both in your downline and upline. Skills learned with change management training or brushing up with a communication skills training course can arm you with some tools to make the process less overwhelming for all. But how do you work out what you can control, and how do you feel in control when things seem to be going wrong in all different directions?
What can you control?
The only answer to this is yourself. Your attitude and behavior, how you approach and deal with change not only affects whether you become overwhelmed, but it can affect those you are managing change for. You cannot control others’ behaviors or attitudes, but it most certainly is possible to influence them in the way you speak with or approach them throughout the change process.
What can you influence?
Influencing may not enable direct change, but you can certainly influence the chance of success for change. This applies both up and down the line of change. You may not be able to give everyone a definitive solution, but by keeping people informed, you can sway minds and reactions and inspire confidence in the change process.
Let’s look at an example of this. If a Managing Director believes that his workforce is best kept in the dark about the changes to the hierarchy of the business, or the processes within a business, and rumors are doing the rounds amongst the staff, this could lead to a loss of confidence in senior management, which could bring a reluctance to change. While the MD might feel that it isn’t necessary to keep lower-ranked staff informed, as it may not directly affect them, this could affect the changes met with suspicion and reluctance.
Now let’s look at a different way of going about dealing with such changes. What would happen if the MD was convinced to lay the foundations for the workforce’s change much earlier in the process. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with fear of the unknown, the staff now had a timeline to focus on and a degree of comfort that enabled them to focus on their daily tasks. This could reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed for both the staff and the MD, who would likely face fewer challenges to the changes that are being made.
What we cannot change
If you’re trying to effect changes within your team that have been handed down from above, you may not be able to control the decision, but you may be able to have an impact on the way it happens.
Fear can become overwhelming, knowledge can reduce fear, and a change manager has the ability to give knowledge. Convincing others that change is needed and managing their worries can reduce how overwhelming it becomes, not just for the downline but also for the person who manages the change.