u·biq·ui·tous (yo͞oˈbikwədəs). This is one of those hard to pronounce words that make people around the user say, “She must be real smart!” However, the word is a good one to use when describing change. Ubiquitous means “all over the place” or “pervasive”. And that describes all the change surrounding us – it’s everywhere!
Change of computer software at work
Change of medical treatments for disease
Change of technology in your car
Change of supervisor at your job
Change of your health insurance plan
Change of music styles in your church
Change of policies at your kid’s school
Change really is everywhere. One writer in the Bible described it this way in Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Change can be a bit overwhelming at times and especially frustrating when it's not understood or when it's just plain dumb. Here are three things to remember before you begin managing change in your organization.
1. Remember, you shape the change process
On more than one occasion, I have heard one of my children describe a change they did not appreciate with these profound words: “That’s stupid.” It is the responsibility of the leader to lead smart changes in smart ways! As leaders and managers, changes are not only shaping you, you are shaping and managing change by the way you lead your team, the way you manage communication, and the way you personally respond to change yourself. Change leadership is a vital responsibility for every leader and manager. The title of an interesting book about change shows how important it is: Change or Die!
2. Know what life cycle stage your organization is at
People and organizations have something in common – they both follow a predictable life cycle from birth to decline. While for some the cycle is very short and quick, for others the cycle can play out over many decades. It is helpful for leaders and managers to understand this cycle so they can anticipate what challenges they will face when implementing and managing change.
What stage is your organization currently at? How will this effect your change initiatives?
Recently, there was news of a nationally known and fast growing organization that went out of existence within six months of experiencing a leadership crisis. People were shocked, articles were written, and social media went wild. Why? Because people were surprised that an organization in a massive growth cycle could ever decline so quickly. But they can, and they do. Sometimes they die because of not changing and other times because the leaders are not wisely managing change. Either way, the result is the same: disillusionment, disappointment, and sometimes even disdain. As Helen Keller once said, “The saddest thing in life is people who can see but have no vision!”
3. Know how your people process change
Everyone processes change differently. For example, some people overall love change and are quick to adapt, while others fear change and are slower to adapt. It is wise to consider not only how you process change, but also how some of your key leaders and constituents process it. By understanding how others process change, you can be better prepared to provide what they need to adapt to the new initiative.
Determine where you and your key leaders fall on the change scale below.
The change process can be scary, but with a wise leader making smart decisions, your organization can benefit greatly from change! For more on managing change, read our article Smart Change Leadership in GUIDE – Building the Team. Setting the Direction. Fulfilling the Mission.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center Consulting Group and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.