In 1994 Amazon launched with CEO Jeff Bezos selling books out of his home. 25 years later Jeff Bezos has remained the constant, but Amazon now does a lot more than sell books. Cloud services and movie and music streaming are just a few of the things Amazon now offers, in addition to the option of buying just about anything one could want online.
Along with Alibaba, Amazon dominates e-commerce and Jeff Bezos is now the world’s wealthiest individual. But Amazon would not be where it is today if Jeff Bezos had continued to simply sell books out of his home. Change has been a constant in these 25 years and Amazon has embraced it. So, if change has proven successful for Amazon and countless other companies and organizations, why is it we are so hesitant and opposed to change? Why are we so insistent on maintaining the status quo, when doing so could be costly for us?
I would venture to say the primary reasons we dislike change are our desire for control and our fear of the unknown. We like to be in control and change takes things out of our hands. And looking to the question marks of the future cause us to cling to the realities of the status quo, even if the status quo is not ideal. We prefer a mediocre present to the unknown of the future.
But I have news for you: change is inevitable, and the better we navigate these changes, the healthier our organizations can be. Here are a few things to think through as you navigate potential change.
- Embrace It: We like to be in control and relinquishing that control and embracing the unknown of change is never easy. But we can either embrace change and navigate it on our terms, or it will be forced upon us whether we like it or not. Yes, there is a grieving process that goes on as we mourn the loss of relationships and successes. But change can bring opportunity as well, and the more we welcome it, the more prepared we’ll be to reap the rewards of those opportunities.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Change brings new systems, new processes, new relationships, new everything. It’s been my experience that it’s preferable to over-communicate than to leave people in the dark. Staff and team members may get tired of hearing from you, but they’ll be even more upset if they feel like they weren’t told valuable information. It’s better to make sure everyone knows how to process something, than dealing with the chaos of misinformation.
- Assume Best Intentions: No matter how much communicating and preparing you do, things will fall through the cracks, unforeseen obstacles will emerge, and the complexities of change will disrupt even the best of plans. When this happens, we all need to have a little patience and assume the best intentions of others. If you get left off an important e-mail, it’s not necessarily because someone doesn’t like you. It may have simply been a mistake.
- People Over Systems: Your plans, systems, and processes are important. But in the challenges of change, it’s more important than ever to value relationships. Your staff, team, or employees are more likely to have patience with you in the midst of everything if they know you are for them and care about them. And they may be struggling and need your encouragement to get them through this season of change. Value those people more than the organizational change itself.
The question is not whether or not you will encounter change. The question is how you’ll deal with it. We believe change brings opportunity to thrive and we’re here to make that happen for you. Let us know how we can help!