Four Proactive Ways to Handle Change

If you thought death and taxes were the only sure things in life, you can add one more to your list.

Change.

If you are a leader, you have to be proactive when change hits you. You can’t control the world out there. You can control your response to it. Then you can lead your team to do the same.

First, seize the moment. The best time is now. Have you ever tried to kill a fly? You’ve got to slap him while he’s within reach of your swatter or he’ll get away to pester you another day. You can’t drink your problems away. They’ll be there waiting when you sober up. So confront them now with positive action.

Second, use warm words to describe the future. Load it up with possibility. Thomas Edison did over 14,000 experiments before perfecting the incandescent bulb. If not for the hope that he really could do it, would he have persevered? Maybe it was intelligent ignorance that drove him. He didn’t know he couldn’t, so he did.

Third, challenge people’s assumptions about the change. Change can be uncomfortable. The prospect of a new way of doing things is like wearing shoes that don’t fit right. You walk funny and it hurts so bad you want to just throw them away and put your old pair back on for the rest of your life. Remind your team that new shoes don’t stay new. Eventually you have to buy a new pair. While they feel strange at first, eventually you’ll get comfortable with them. Then they wear out and you do it all over. Life is like that.

If you’re going to grow, you have to change from time to time. You have to replace worn out methods with fresh ones that serve the team and your customers. If you don’t, you’ll be thrown out.

Fourth, since you know that change is challenging, ask people to delay judgment. You do the same for customers when you ask them to take your product for a test drive. If they are happy, they’ll keep it. If they’re not, let them know you’ll make it right.

The same principle works with your team.

Don’t be assaulted by changes. Take the lead and grab change by the horns.