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Managing Change is About Managing Yourself

Managing Change is About Managing Yourself
People don’t like change; not in life and not at work. Even if things aren’t so great, we are attracted to the safety of the known, rather than the uncertainty that change brings. Psychologists call this “status quo bias,” a tendency to think of change more in terms of potential loss than in potential gain.
This is too bad. Change is constant, and we need to be able to handle it.
Not all people are change-averse, though. Some people are attracted to change and even thrive in its presence. What traits and behaviors are common to these lucky folk?
I learned a lot about attitudes toward change during my days at Coca-Cola Co., where I was involved in the buying and integration of smaller Coke bottlers. A large part of the job was to identify who among the acquired bottler’s management team would be asked to stay with the company and who would be asked to leave. Contrary to belief, we didn’t have a “hit list” prepared prior to taking over, but we could tell within days, if not hours, who would make it and who would not. Some managers greeted us eagerly, drove us around town and introduced us to customers, showcased their rank-and-file employees and expressed genuine curiosity about how we did business. They were excited about the possibilities change promised, even if uncertain of their own job status. Others hid, emotionally and sometimes literally. They were aloof, negative, pessimistic and inflexible, trying to convince us that nothing could be done to make their business better.
Guess who the survivors were?
Embracing change comes easier to some people than to others. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor and expert on change behavior, studies what she calls “mindset.” There are two types, claimed Dweck: “In a fixed mindset [people] believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset [people] understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, [learning] and persistence.”
In other words, people blessed with a growth mindset are psychologically wired for change and the possibility for personal growth it entails. Persons with a fixed mindset think more in terms of the risk of loss. But what if you aren’t wired for a growth mindset in a world of constant change?
I have no idea what the psychological state was of the people I met while at Coke — we had never heard of mindset at the time — but the ones who embraced change shared a common set of traits and behaviors. They listened, were curious, showed openness to new ideas and were collaborative with their employees and us. They were authentic, and they didn’t put on an act or pretend to be someone they weren’t.
What lessons can we learn from these examples, and what can you do when faced with change in life or at work? 

Assess your mindset. Ask yourself whether you agree or disagree with this question: “A person is born with a certain amount of intelligence, and there isn’t much he or she can do to change it.” Or this one: “Your talent in an area is something about you that you can’t change very much.” If you agree with both questions and others like them, you have a fixed mindset (according to the survey used by Dweck and other researchers in this area). If you disagree, you are of a growth mindset, and change is naturally more appealing to you. But even persons of the fixed mindset sort (as am I, honestly) can learn skills to help become more adept at change management. A few are listed below.

Play to your strengths. The evidence is overwhelming that we are at our best and our most authentic when we are using our strengths, not trying to hide or cover up weaknesses. When facing change, don’t try to change yourself; focus on your core strengths and abilities, and count on them to see you through. If you have a sense of humor, use it in change situations to defuse tension. If you are a diligent introvert, don’t try to be a back-slapper when you meet new people; just stay buttoned down and well prepared. Be yourself; don’t play a part you aren’t meant for. If you are uncertain as to your core strengths, take this free online survey.

Be mindful of others. As famed Silicon Valley consultant and change guru Elad Levinson reminds his clients, a) change is constant, and b) no one acts alone. Rely upon others when faced with change; build and honor your relationships; don’t throw old friends and allies under the bus when a new management team arrives; work harder than ever to keep your interpersonal bonds strong.

Listen with focus. Change embracers are good listeners, almost meditative in their focus on the words of others. They silence their mind when others are trying to communicate and don’t try to mind read or jump to conclusions based upon partial listening. Stop trying to finish the sentences of others, listen nonjudgmentally, and really hear what another person is saying. As top executive coach Greg Riggs said in an interview, “focused, selfless, intuitive listening is a powerful tool for enhancing our effectiveness and performance, especially in change environments. Deep listening takes practice and discipline, but the payoff is high.”

Is change easy? Of course not, regardless of your psychological makeup. But it is an unavoidable part of our modern lives. Managing yourself by working on your strengths and interpersonal skills can make navigating change easier and help ensure it brings opportunity, not loss.
Tags: change, manage, mindset, self help, youThe post Managing Change is About Managing Yourself appeared first on TALENT MANAGEMENT.
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Source: Succession Planning

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