In a recent conversation with Rich Tuff, a member of the Mercer UK executive, we were discussing change, and how for some businesses it is celebrated, whilst other businesses fear it. Rich pointed out that kids are exposed to more information by the time they start school than many adults experienced in a lifetime compared to 50 years ago. The rate of things evolving has increased to such a pace, that what the word “change” means something different to each generation. The modern world creates a sense of fluidity rather than certainty, and how we react to this defines not only our ability to do our jobs, but how we feel about life in general.
So why is it that some people are better at dealing with change, seemingly taking it in their stride, whilst for others, they see change as disruptive, chaotic or unwanted. In the workplace, we’ve all witnessed change for the worse or better, how do we predict which outcome will be achieved from any particular change before we have experienced the outcome?
During our conversation, Rich gave an example to expand on this. If he were to say to his kids, “Hey, we’re off to Paris this weekend!”, despite the fact that it wasn’t planned, or indeed expected, the reaction is invariably likely to be positive. Moreover, the change from staying at home to an exciting to trip to Paris is not questioned, it is accepted without question. You might suppose that this is because Rich is the parent, and the children will always accept his word. I’m sure every parent out there would disagree – getting your kids to do as they are told isn’t always so easy! So why is this change accepted without question? More importantly, why doesn’t this change cause distress due to disruption of “the norm”?
It invariably comes down to your mindset – when we hear information, our brains process the detail, determining relevance, impact, timing, outcomes. If, when we respond to the change, we are seeing possibility, opportunity, curiosity, there is a greater chance that we will respond positively, embrace it and make the best of it. Where we approach change with hostility, mistrust, trepidation, we are more likely to see out negative outcomes, and resist the change happening.
We all know that at home, at work, in life, change happens, and will continue to happen. I am certainly glad of the vast majority of changes that happen to me every day. I don’t question most, I go with it, and this helps me cope with what life brings. I’ve previously blogged about the growth mindset, which talks about how intelligence can be developed rather than it being set in stone. This reinforces the message that being open to and embracing change help us embrace more change. Whether you call it change, evolution, revolution or disruption, it will happen anyway, so learning to make the most of it is the best way to regain your happy, confident self in the workplace, and at home.