Life, by definition, is a succession of changes. In recent years, the major changes we are experiencing are related to the world of technology; their overriding characteristic is the speed at which they appear, as well as how they are drastically changing our way of life.
TEXT CORPORATE HUMAN RESOURCES AREA | PHOTOGRAPH ISTOCK
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of changes: those we want to make and those we must make, either because they are imposed on us or because they are essential to achieve something we need.
WHAT IDENTIFIES CHANGE?
In the first case, when we wish to make the change, it seems that this happens only because the associated hope and desire means that the proposed goals can be achieved in a natural fashion. On many occasions, where these changes require the acquisition of new habits, such hope and desire must be supplemented by planning, control, training… in short, some kind of method that helps us achieve the target set. One example of this type of change is going on a diet. They are born out of our desire and we stick to them rigidly for the first few days but, in addition to hope and desire, two other things are needed to achieve the ultimate objective: a healthy diet prescribed by a health professional (planning) and periodical consultations (control) to monitor the results. If managing change entails proposing a strategy that can help us move from one situation to another with the greatest possible guarantee of success, the greater our conviction, the greater this possibility will be, as our desire to attain the goal will smooth the way for us.
However, in life we most often come up against changes that we neither chose nor decided upon. From the most important, e.g. the loss of a loved one or a disease, to other more commonplace ones, whether in our personal or professional lives. In these cases, the most frequent reaction – and one which is only natural – is negation, and the key lies in overcoming this rejection so the change takes place and the goal is more easily achieved. Our attitude toward change is therefore most important, as it will condition the final outcome. If we decide to accept it and incorporate it into our life, this initial decision will mark the start of a successful strategy.
HOW DOES CHANGE AFFECT US?
A change can alter the stability that makes us act in a predictable, consistent manner and modifies the “rules of the game” as we know them. This can lead to us experiencing several different emotions: anxiety, unease, uncertainty, concern, nervousness, etc.
Therefore, any change, no matter what kind it is, generates a response on a psychological level that moves through various phases as time goes by, as shown in the graph:
• The denial phase is characterized by passive resistance. It is perfectly normal, provided it does not last too long
• The rejection phase may give rise to complaints, attempts to return to the previous situation or to boycott the situation that produces the change. From a psychological point of view, this phase is useful, but it should not last too long either.
• Finally, we come to acceptance, generating thoughts and behaviors that make us feel better.
Acceptance is not always reached the same way. It may be experienced in a resigned manner – due to ignorance, confusion, negative perception or a decision to not support the change – or in the form of commitment. Such commitment may be the result of a process that takes place when the decision is made to accept the change; however, accepting a change does not necessarily mean that a commitment has been made to achieve the goals set.
The commitment is a guarantee of success and, to achieve this, we have had to successfully deal with any resistance that may have arisen, so that the objective is fully taken on board. Something similar happens in change processes within companies; however, as well as individual changes, they call for changes at the group level also. The greater the collective desire to change and the better any possible resistance has been handled, the more likely it is that they will happen more naturally and successfully.
A current example of such a change in our company is the Digital Challenge initiative. In this sense, change is being managed using a methodology, which includes global actions, especially those related to communication and training, and other local ones adapted to each culture. In the face of change, it is always better to have a positive attitude, because as Heraclitus said “the only constant is change”