Put yourself In the Shoes Of Others When Managing Change

Shift happens

When it comes to Change Management, people often don’t understand the impact that changes can have upon the people.

We are all human beings and we are prone to emotional responses, and in times of stress, such as change, these responses can be very strong, and are often under estimated.

Just recently I had to inform my wife of big change, this change was good for me, a great opportunity, and I thought she would see it in the same light.

How wrong could I be, for her it was a huge impact, it created a great deal of stress and anxiety, caused her to ask an awful lot of questions which I couldn’t really answer very well, and certainly not to her satisfaction.

For me I saw great potential, an opportunity to follow a dream, a chance to maybe move back to the US, where we both enjoyed living. I thought she would be happy at the news!

But my wife just saw uncertainly, upheaval, a loss of security, the challenge of moving and the potential loss of some very close friends.

To be honest I hadn’t considered all of that, I had taken a selfish approach, thinking that if it was good for me, it would be good for us, and she would see it and feel it in the same way.

Today, over a week later, she does see it that way, and now is as excited as much as I am.

But when first announced it, it was a shock, she was stunned and very stressed.

Often in companies we deliver messages, which we as leaders see as good for the company, in the same way, taking little time or thought for how the people will react.

They have not had the benefit of working on the change for the months that we have, they haven’t had the time to get used to the idea. It comes as a shock, and it’s hard to take in all the news, and see the benefits at the same time.

As leaders we need to put ourselves in the shoes of our people, and try to imagine how we would react in similar circumstances. Let’s face it we have all been on the receiving end of changes, both positive and negative, so it’s not hard to imagine what we would feel like in their position.

If we can do that, if we can really empathise, then we should look to build our communication from that perspective.

Focus on minimising the stress, the shock, and focus on getting people through the change rather than just communicating the change, even if we feel that it is good news.

We should never forget that people don’t like change, they much prefer stability and security it is a basic human need, and even good change can be very stressful at the start.

Good Leaders focus on the people, and not just one the change!

It seems I still have some way to go.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles

Put yourself In the Shoes Of Others When Managing Change
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About Gordon Tredgold

Author, Speaker, Consultant, Coach and Leadership Expert. Over 20 years of experience in leading large transformational change programs both internationally and globally.
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2 Responses to Put yourself In the Shoes Of Others When Managing Change

  1. Monia says:

    Your view is logic as I see but it becomes little bit complicated when it comes to real world. Once announcing a change how we should react to minimize the amount of stress and anxiety we caused? taking into consideration that working under stress would certainly cause a lot of mistakes and errors! could managers when deciding a stressful change could assume the impact of their decision on the quality of work given by their employees?

    Thanks a lot for the interesting article :)

  2. Gordon Tredgold says:

    Hi Monia, we minimise the amount of stress by understanding what our communication will mean and how people will feel, then before we communicate we should look to see how we can tailor the message to ensure it cause minimal stress. We cannot do this after, we have to do it before.
    Also in the case with my wife i could have thought about all her questions before and prepared good answers for them. I didn’t i just assumed she would see the change as posit as i did.

    So prepare the communication taking the peoples possible reactions in mind and you will create much better communication, and the people will appreciate it all the more.

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