My previous post was about Change – the office of the future, based on a recent report by a New York research company called PSFK Labs. Some of the five main takeaways in the report are already becoming a regular part of the modern workplace, e.g. ‘talent on demand’, and ‘success through collaboration’.
Overall, most of the predicted future workplace changes in the report should not be particularly disruptive when (and where) they occur. In this post, I will look at the more disruptive side of change as it applies to the workplace. Let me set the scene with a number of statements:
- “change is the only constant” – a common saying, attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (of Ephesus) in the 5th century BC
- everyone who has been in the workforce since the arrival of the PC (1980s) will have experienced numerous occurrences of change
- in broad terms, change is either ‘evolutionary’ or ‘revolutionary’; it is a part of life – and in some cases can be a matter of survival
- workplace change is usually revolutionary in nature, which can bring disruption, uncertainty, risk, and even great stress
- most people prefer predictability and stability in their lives; because change often represents the unknown, many will be resistant
- creative and innovative people are more likely to see change as a time of opportunity, rather than a time of threat and chaos
Whether or not you agree with all of the above statements, the fact remains that change is probably coming to a workplace near you (and me) sometime soon! It may not directly affect you or me (this time); but it may affect a friend or a family member. So, how will we/they cope? Will we/they embrace the change as an opportunity, or will it be a time of resistance?
Here is a representation of change, derived from the Virginia Satir Change Model. Virginia Satir (1916-1988) was an American psychotherapist who specialised in family therapy during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. This model has been used by many change management specialists to define how change impacts individuals and organisations (and it is still in use today).
1. in the Old Status Quo, things have remained stable for some time, and people know ‘what to do’, ‘how to do it’, and where they fit
1A. Change Happens when something causes either a need or a desire to improve performance
2. Resistance comes in the form of denying the need for change, avoiding the issue, or blaming someone or something for causing the problem
3. Chaos is about the unknown, chance and confusion; there is disarray, things are unpredictable, expectations are not met, and there may even be loss of control
3A. a Transforming Idea occurs when there is awareness or understanding of new possibilities – things now start to look up
4. Integration is when people are learning to use new tools and to work according to new processes, often within a new structure
5. The New Status Quo occurs as practice leads to a new sense of accomplishment, which in turn leads to improved productivity
The Satir Change Model illustration shows that when change occurs, things are (inevitably) going to get worse before (invariably) they will start to get better. My intent for this post is to show that change is not necessarily the beginning of the end – it can be the beginning of a new beginning (From personal experience, I know that is not what is on our mind as resistance turns to chaos, and we seemingly fall over the edge and into the pit!).
Next time you and I encounter change, whatever our role, let’s remember the Virginia Satir change model – after we go over the edge, we can find a way up and out of the chaos. And now let’s look at our free nuggets for this post:
The first free nugget is a short article from the Florida Business Observer: “Managing organizational change: The ultimate test of leadership”. Written last August by Denise Federer, of Federer Performance Management Group, the article looks at people responses to change, and also strategies for implementing change. When change comes, however it affects us, we should find it useful to know more about each of these topics. I found Denise’s article an easy read, which should take about 4-5 minutes. You will find Denise’s article at:
The second free nugget is a short (2min:57sec) video “The Push” by David McNally. McNally is a best-selling author and international business speaker; his mission is ‘to provide people with the knowledge, skills and inspiration to perform at their best’. This video offers a message of encouragement; here is the link:
Coming next: Today’s multicultural workplace (in the meantime, enjoy the free nuggets!).