Change was forced upon me this week. As I walked into the train station I was confronted with a seasonal change: the Christmas shopper. As a commuter into a large City I suffer the inconvenience of this breed of traveller every year.
Those travelling shoppers do lots of strange things us commuters generally don't. They talk to each other rather than sit in silence. Sometimes they even laugh and joke, disturbing nearby sleepy workers. Worse still they move slowly in busy mainline train stations as they navigate unfamiliar surroundings, causing delays of multiple seconds to us seasoned train station professionals. They've even been known to sit in ‘my’ seat before I've join the train!
What this all means for me - apart from revealing some of my personal character flaws - is change. So, when I wrote the term ‘suffer’ above, it is an exaggerated divergence. What I really meant is that my habits have been disrupted and I had to cope with a change to my routine.
I chose to share this perspective of change for a reason. My day job is about creating change in the workplace: change of mindset, change of attitude, change of expectation. Often it is the comfort that habit brings that holds people back from accepting change. Being forced to deal with a change can be a tipping point for reactions. For instance, moving a desk, re-wording a document, altering an agenda or rearranging a meeting time.Small things to one person can be a catalyst of frustration to another.
In my commuting example, I am moving through the change curve that Elisabeth Kubler Ross articulated in 1969 (see the picture above). She shared this process after studying the way a person responds to the many stages of change (i.e. grieving) created by bereavement. In my daily situation, I also need to notice when my perspective is unreasonable or unecessary, when I might be stuck in shock, denial or frustration. But even if my experience is unreasonable it is still real; if I ignore it my emotions could simmer in my mind and affect my attitude for the rest of the day.
In the workplace leaders create change and they also have to manage change forced on them by external influence. So, as a consultant, I share the importance of preparing oneself, and colleagues, for change by encouraging a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. This enables someone to move through the change curve quicker and into productive places such as effective decision making or renewed morale. Rewarding the abilities of those who can adapt their expectations, who can respond rather react, be ready for change scenarios and seek to learn from the new data they see.
The practical question to all this is: How can you do this on a daily basis? Well, this link takes you to a set of free change tools for leaders, including how to approach mindsets. You can use them to lead change and take practical steps to prepare yourself and your team. For now, I'm going to prepare myself to welcome the new people on my train and enjoy the experience of a new pattern of commuting rather than continue to morph into a grumpy old man.