Is change the new normal?
Have you realized how we seem to be going through an accelerated evolution? Our daily habits have changed a decade’s worth in a few weeks, maybe months. Whereas 12 months ago we were not even aware of how we were walking on the border of such an evolution. I think the sentence I hear and say most frequently is this: “When will things go back to how they were before?” Do you think we will go back to how we were before? Should we, especially considering UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres’ words, “Let us not return to the past, the past was not good.”
Our sense of change has evolved
People move forward, the institution progresses, looking backwards and doing what we used to do in the past will only be a waste of time. We are aware of this, yet each of us act with a defensive reflex to protect ourselves and preserve our circumstances. Whereas what we have underwent in the last 8 months, the evolution we have lived through combined with Guterres’ words remind us instead that we must view change as our new normal. When becoming the representative for Turkey at the world’s most intensive non profit organization on change management, Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), this was the outlook I grounded my decision on. If change is in fact the new normal, commanding and directing it must be among one’s strong suits. Instead of “Change? Not again..” we must look for the answers to “How should we direct and manage change?”
The evolution of work life
A few days ago during an online company meeting one of my teammates shared a new trend with the ones at the meeting. Professionals working away from the office environment as a team keep their video conference running the whole day instead of simply for a meeting; when needed they call for one another, speak among each other, work through it on video instead of emails. This way, they feel as if they are at the office throughout the day. We have adapted ourselves to changes, but holding onto something from old habits feels good, perhaps makes us feel less lonely.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic. In almost every country there is an ongoing economic turbulence. Technological advancements continue on with seemingly no boundaries to them, our business priorities change. Once, the borders of the world we saw through our window were clear cut and we would take action according to these clear cut lines. Now our window is the screen in front of us (or in our hands) and there is no limit to it. You can benefit from this new idea during your employees’ adaptation periods. The new normal is always change.
Vision is important, now more than ever
The importance of the mission – which to some seems like an elegant, decorated sentence – is much more powerfully felt nowadays. Despite changes in priorities and application methods, the mission you set forth is essential for the comfort of the journey ahead: it functions as the Polaris of your organization. Change happens under the guidance of your mission and managing change concerns not the end goal but the direction of and command over the journey.
Employee engagement and change
Let’s consider for a moment what change as the new normal means regarding what to be cautious about in terms of employee engagement.
- The fact is, you can direct and guide change through effective leadership. Effective leadership is successfully setting forth to the employees the difference between stability and change. The foundation necessary to correctly understand change can be completed through leadership. No matter how much we change, we need to explain to our employees that the core values of the organization are forever the same.
- Transparency is becoming more crucial by the day, especially during this era… we are stressed, scared, most of us still work in isolation. The remote working environment is very suited for hearsay, misunderstandings, and speculations. A transparent communication management is one of the ultimate requirements of directing the journey. We have to constantly create communication channels, both formal and informal. Technology lends us any device we could desire, we have no excuse.
- Our abilities too need to improve. Do not disregard the importance of investing into your employees’ areas of development, now more than ever. For you to give them strength in this hasted and mandatory era of evolution will not only benefit them greatly but also will surely come back to benefit you.