How Change Affects Managers
We would all recognise the “Lobster in the Boiling Pot” scenario where the temperature is increased slowly and steadily with each subsequent rise in the heat of the water not really being noticed or felt by the lobster until it is well and truly cooked. With workplace demands increasing the need to recognise how this impacts on us all is critically important now, more than ever.
Stress, Stress & More Stress
One primary concern regarding change is the stress it imposes on those undergoing the change. Managers, because they have obligations to their staff, not only have to deal with change as employees but also need to carry some of the concerns of their team.
Stress is part of the job and as times change and competition increases it is essential to recognise how this process impacts on us all as people. The big issue is not how change impacts in the short-term as the immediate stress of completing a task of compiling a Report with a deadline is a positive motivational force. Long term stress results in reduced effectiveness, reduced efficiency and lack of positive, measurable results for all concerned.
This is downward spiral and needs to be recognised in how you feel and interact with colleagues and relationships outside work.
A common response to unpleasant change is to ignore the situation. Avoidance can take many forms and the most common avoidance strategy is to be a bit-part player in a project that you would rather not be a part of. We deliberately hide away from the challenge with a focus on tasks that we prefer, have interest in, are committed to but are not frightened of! We might also delegate away all of the work that gives us stress to avoid and deny our involvement in it.
Abdication is dangerous and leads only to being found out. You can never abdicate anything as your staff will always need direction or at least a point of reference with which to fix onto in difficult times. Periods of change unsettle staff and need management direction at this point more than ever – by walking away you are denying them this support which only increase uncertainty and angst. You instantly become aloof, out of touch and appear uncaring in the extreme. You also make poor decisions, wider morale decays, the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation declines often to a position where it cannot be recovered.
Admit Nothing, Deny Everything
Denial is a shocking tactic – put your head right in the sand next to the Ostrich and wait for the inevitable.
Poor show – the action of atrocious management – you have been selected and paid to manage and nobody said the going would be easy all of the time. Wake up and smell the coffee!
The line a denying manager takes is to either in public or in private state that they do not understand why the change is needed, what it involves and how it will impact on their area of responsibility. As a result of this the manager shows precious little empathy or practical support for their staff thereby destroying any credibility or loyalty and support from their staff.
So what now?
Keep a keen eye on the managerial landscape and try to think about what changes might be reasonably expected. You have access to information and knowledge that other staff do not have, you have contacts and allies across the organisation or sector – use them to try to future-guess the outcomes from likely change. If nothing else when change does arrive it will not be a total surprise and you will have already thought about how best to deal with it.
Get your head out of the sand and never withdraw from the battle. Chicken! Shame on you if you do – and only you will know if you are doing this until it becomes very obvious and all of the dangerous points identified above become reality.
Never deny what is happening. The sun will rise tomorrow, no point saying that it won’t. In the same way change will wash over your area and no matter how much it is painful embrace the process – if you deny its existence how can you then make the best of the pain – and opportunity it will bring with it?
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