Navigating Through Organizational Change

I was recently facilitating a session entitled “Navigating Through Organizational Change”. The focus was helping ourselves survive and thrive in times of organizational change. My preparation time became an opportunity to reflect on why, at times, we find it so hard to deal with change.

We accept many changes in our lives on a regular basis; and big changes too!

Getting married. Having kids. Moving to a new location. Changing jobs. I’m not saying these changes are always easy.  But they don’t necessarily cause the huge struggles that other changes do, such as reporting to a new boss, using a new system, learning a new skill. So why do we find these changes so difficult to accept?

Is the Change Chosen by Me or Imposed On Me?

One key difference in how readily we adapt to and accept change is that sometimes we choose to make the change and other times, our colleagues impose it is on us. As Peter Senge said: “People don’t resist change – they resist being changed.

Peter Senge photo saying People Don't Resist Change, they resist being changed.

Photo credit: Niels Pflaeging, BetaCodex Network, Heros of Leadership Slideshare

When it comes to our professional lives, change rarely comes by choice. So, what do we do?

Navigating Organizational Change is Letting Go

Many schools of thought tell us that a key part of adapting to change is our willingness and ability to let go. But what does letting go mean? And what are we letting go of? As I ponder those questions, I realize that when I struggle to adapt to change that others impose on me, I have to become more flexible and “let go” of one or more of the following states of mind:

  1. My belief or illusion that the status quo is perfect.
  2. My assessment that the imposed change is the wrong thing to do.
  3. My fears about the change.
  4. My need to be right.
  5. My attachment to specific outcomes that are unlikely with this change.

In considering this list it becomes more clear about why change can be slow and challenging! The concept of letting go is simple in theory, but not easy to do.

When you think of your own organizational change, what are you hanging on to? Where might you need to let go to move forward?