Change is scary for lots of people in all organisations. It involves loss – of what has gone, of a bit of continuity and certainty, of familiarity. If you look up change management on business websites you will quite often find reference to The Bereavement Curve, or something like it. That is because change does feel like a major loss to most people.
There is a major problem in times of constraint, which makes this far more problematic in my view. People may disguise their feelings, or bury them because of recessionary fears. They, quite literally don’t want to put their heads above the parapet, for fear of being shot down or singled out for the next round of cost cutting.
Bad employers may exploit this. Governments may do (public sector pay freezes, as a simple example). This short termism may well come back to haunt the perpetrators. Both in the ballot box and in an inability to recruit high quality people in the upturn. And rightly so, in my mind.
People do have two contracts, as you know. Their contract of employment, and the Psychological contract. The second is far more elusive and dictates what is usually called ‘discretionary behaviour’. Simply, if people feel good about their organisation, then they may put more effort in.
One of the hardest things of all about any change though is we have to realise that we cannot change the past. It really is no use bemoaning the passing of a process, system, client or colleague. We can only learn from the past and change the future.
So the soft skill here? It’s about supporting each other. Listening, cajoling, imagining, creating new ways of doing and being. And doing this as teams, as groups, as lunch flies, as friends.
We are all in it together if we choose to be.
(Picture is from my friends at The Trainers Library – always good!)