Change: A Thrill Ride or Deep Waters?

Take a moment and look at the following picture:


Now, what do you think would happen if someone didn’t heed to the warning of slowing down around the turn? Yep, you got it… they could end up in “deep water”!

Have you ever ended up in deep water because you didn’t slow down when you were making an organizational change or shift? A humbling lesson I’ve been learning as a leader is that some (or perhaps most) of the people are not nearly as excited as we are when we are leading the organization toward some type of change. Because we are so excited about the change, we tend to move quickly on it. Like the kid who can’t wait for Christmas to come, we rush in “with guns blazing”. And we’re shocked when others we lead don’t share the same excitement and energy.

The problem is that we forget that a lot of people don’t like change! The other problem is that people haven’t been thinking about the change 24/7 like we have. They haven’t had the time to really process it.

I’ve spent the last year in a new ministry and have been blessed by the growth that has occurred over the course of the year. But it’s had its share of “bumpy roads” along the way. I’m a “change junkie” and find myself energized by change.  Change is good for an organization BUT… it needs to be a good change in a good way. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about transitioning organizations (and people) toward healthy change:

#1)  Make sure you have your “DUCKS IN A ROW”

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”. If we attempt to bring changes and haven’t really thought it through, people may give some grace… the first time. If we lose credibility, we will lose the “mojo” for future change initiatives. Anticipate the questions people will have, and have the answers before they are asked.

#2)  Make sure you have RELATIONAL “BUY IN”

Have you built the necessary relational equity to move forward? As the old saying goes “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Trust is a huge component if people are going to step out of their comfort zone and embrace change. Also, anticipate those who will resist and connect with them privately before you take it public.

#3)  Make sure they see the VISION behind the change

Helping people see the bigger picture will make the sacrifice and discomfort that change can bring worth embracing. It can be done in various ways. Be creative. Don’t just tell them. Share some stories from other people. Use metaphors and visuals that keeps the vision for change a motivating factor for them as the initial excitement wears off.

#4)  Make sure it’s the RIGHT SEASON for change

Good ideas may come at a bad time. The motto is true, “timing is everything”. Also, too many changes too quickly together may not be wise. We need to learn to pace ourselves and give people a chance to “come up for air” and breathe a bit.

Change is good. Every organization will experience change if it is to grow and thrive. Every leader needs to be an agent of change. BUT, let’s make sure we are slowing down around those turns. It can be a thrill ride or it can end up in deep waters. Which will it be for you?

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