“Any new thing we start ends up fizzling out.”
The owner of an organization that we worked with – let’s call him Andy – had spent years on growing his company to a pretty decent level of sales and profits. He wanted to shift the organization to the next level, but couldn’t make that breakthrough move and get on top of managing change.
If this sounds like you, then it could be that you’ve got an issue of habitual resistance to change. In other words, your ingrained reflex actions are holding you back from reaching your full potential; your natural behaviors are overriding logical courses of action that could propel you and your business forward through effective change management.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, nor one limited to the business world. You’ve only got to look at how difficult it is when managing personal change: to quit smoking or lose extra weight, for example. Often we don’t even realize that it is our habits holding us back from achieving our potential.
It is our habits that cause us to revert to our old ways. This is when change fizzles out.
Effective change management made personal
Habits are reinforced by a number of factors, many of which remain invisible because they are subconscious behavioral triggers. For instance, it may be that you:
- Fear financial or other loss should things go wrong
- Are satisfied with the status quo
- Cannot see the potential created by effective change management
In order to break the habits that are holding you back, you first need to discover the underlying reasons for those habits and tackle managing change on a personal level. After all, if you can’t change your own habits, how can you change the habits of others and lead your organization through a period of change?
Three steps to managing change on a personal level
Making effective change management decisions for your own account is not so different from managing change of a department, division, or whole organization. Here are three steps that will make a direct impact in your life and workplace productivity by managing personal change:
Step 1: Understand that change is disruptive, even when made on a personal level.
Step 2: Commit to the change by considering the benefits to you and those around you (for example, quitting smoking is good for your health and the environment of those around you). Changing a work practice may give more time, make it easier to complete tasks, or improve sales figures. When you solidify the rewards in such a manner, managing change takes on a whole new perspective.
Step 3: Highlight the benefits and reinforce them. Stay on top of change by continually reminding yourself of the benefits of change. Over a period of time, these benefits replace previously-hidden fears that had become the foundation on which previous habits were built. Reference to the risks of the status quo should also be considered: what will be the consequences of reverting to old habits?
What happened to Andy?
Working with Andy, a specialized coach helped him to discover some habits that were counterproductive to the motivation of moving forward. The coach was able to identify fixed patterns of behavior that were holding him back. At first, Andy was resistant to the changes the coach suggested: he considered some to be removing “a part of me, almost like losing an arm or a leg.” In particular there were three things that the coach noted and advised:
- Some of Andy’s habits were symbolic, others ritualistic. For example, his shelves were full of the ‘trophies’ of a fruitful career. There wasn’t any space for more. Symbolically, Andy’s shelves were telling him he had reached the pinnacle of his career, and achieved all he was capable of. The coach suggested that Andy remove some – but not all – of these ‘winner’s badges’.
- Andy also used to eat lunch at the same restaurant every day, and at the same time. The coach encouraged Andy to try different places and invite different people to join him.
- Finally, Andy had a habit of scheduling meetings for as soon as he arrived at the office every morning. The coach helped Andy identify the value of using the time before 9 a.m. to properly prepare for the day ahead.
Andy’s workspace and business life were going to be disrupted. Nevertheless, he committed to the change, reminding himself of the reasons and the potential benefits. Within two weeks, Andy found himself re-energized in his professional life. In less than two months, this new energy had transformed into new business for his organization. The result was a revitalized company, re-energized staff, and greater personal career satisfaction.
Working with you to jumpstart growth by changing habits
Our coaches work with organizations and individuals at the executive level to promote effective change management. That often starts at the personal level, with the changing of habits that are holding the executive and his or her team from reaching their full potential.
Working together, we’ll help you to identify and tackle the issues of habits that are holding you back. You’ll discover new habits that will help you make the career-changing advances, and with coaching you’ll employ the strategies that will help you onboard these new habits.
We don’t expect you to forget your professional past and old routine – after all, it is what has given you the success you’ve had; but we will encourage you to find the new habits and behaviors that will jumpstart the next step in your career.
Forward Focus works together with executives, but we don’t stop once we’ve identified strengths, weaknesses, and habits. We’ll help you create an action plan, and then check in regularly to help keep you committed to change and remain on track.
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Managing change on a personal level is the first step to becoming a business leader adept at effective change management: an essential leadership quality in today’s fast-moving markets. Jumpstart the next leg of your career today by taking advantage of the strategic advice in our tips and advice paper, ‘Change Habits’. It’s free to download, and you’ll also benefit from ongoing free advice designed to help you move your career to the next level and beyond (and stop change and progress from fizzling out).