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Navigating Workplace Change


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"Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes — it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm." Peter Drucker. Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999). This power point was created for a Lifestage training used to help employees in organizations understand and manage the emotional and psychological impact of workplace change.

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Navigating Workplace Change

  1. 1. 1 Navigating Workplace Change  Lifestage, Inc  "Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes — it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm." Peter Drucker Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999
  2. 2. 2 The accelerated pace of change impacts every aspect of 21st century life – the environment around us as well 2 as our inner life  “Technology is evolving at roughly 10 million times the speed of natural evolution. For all its glitz and swagger, technology and the whole interactive, revved-up economy that goes with it, is merely an outer casing for our inner selves. And these inner selves, these primate souls of ours with their ancient social ways, change slowly. Or not at all.”  Brian Arthur, “How Fast Is Technology Evolving?” Scientific American (February 1997): 107.
  3. 3. 3 “Change is like tossing a pebble into a pond.”  “Change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in ever-widening circles. The ripples disrupt other departments, important customers, people well outside the venture or neighborhood, and they start to push back, rebelling against changes they had nothing to do with that interfere with their own activities.”  “Ten Reasons People Hate Change”, 9/25/12 3
  4. 4. 4 “It isn’t the changes that you do you in, it’s the transitions. They aren’t the same thing.” William Bridges, Managing Transitions: Making The Most of Change, 4 Change is situational- It hinges on new directions, new plans, and on what is emerging
  5. 5. 5 Transition is psychological It hinges on letting go of the old reality and the old identity we had before the change took place. 5
  6. 6. 6 Even positive change can trigger a sense of threat. • Loss of control • Loss of status • Challenge to familiar habits of mind • Heightened uncertainty • Need to make sudden adjustments • Concerns about competence, e.g. we will lack the skill to meet evolving challenges and fall behind as a result;  6
  7. 7. 7 Transition is an emotional and psychological process  7
  8. 8. 8 “Even positive and resilient people find workplace change challenging.” Gregory Shea and Robert Gunther, Navigating Workplace Change  Change involves loss  Change is physically and emotionally stressful  Workplace change often demands difficult psychological adjustments while maintaining the same or bigger workload 8
  9. 9. 9 “Our sense of self-determination is often the first thing to go when faced with a potential change coming from someone else.” “Ten Reasons People Resist Change” Harvard Business Review Sept 25, 2012  Change violates habits of mind that are protected by an arsenal of defenses. These defenses can produce intense emotional reactions and sometimes flat out resistance to what is happening.  New policies require adjustment and adaptation to a new system, authority structure or requirement that changes roles and relationships 9
  10. 10. 10 Change that has a significant psychological impact can trigger the stress response-an “amygdala hijacking”  “When the amygdala is active with blood and oxygen, there is less activation in the prefrontal cortex. Our thinking power is disrupted and there are deficits in our problem solving, because the blood and oxygen are in the amygdala versus the prefrontal cortex. It is like losing 10 to 15 IQ points temporarily, which explains “what was I thinking?” So we are thinking but with less capacity and brain power.”  Lieberman, M.D., “Social Cognitive Neuroscience: A Review of Core Processes.” The Annual Review of Psychology, 2007. 58:259–89  10
  11. 11. 11 For effective renewal: its not how long, its how well we relax and recharge “The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” Tony Schwartz, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” New York Times, Feb. 9, 2013
  12. 12. 12 The US Marines report remarkable results from training soldiers in mindfulness meditation. After 8 weeks of meditating 15-minutes/ day, the soldiers reported enhanced capacity to: • Deal with anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia; • Stay calm and focused in the thick of battle, while improving overall mental and physical fitness. Danny Penman, “Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World”
  13. 13. 13 “In physical training, muscle strength grows during periods of rest and renewal” The same principles that apply to athletic performance also hold true for business and work performance. It is in periods of sleep and downtime that our minds recharge. The key is to have the biggest waves between activity and rest.“ Tony Schwartz, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” New York Times, Feb. 9, 2013
  14. 14. 14 The perception that we have some power over our response to events lowers stress levels 14 It is possible to change perception of events that we cannot control and strengthen a sense of autonomy through: • Self-knowledge • Mindfulness practices • Cognitive-bias modification Safiya Richardson, Jonathan A. Shaffer, Louise Falzon, David Krupka, Karina W. Davidson, Donald Edmondson. Meta-Analysis of Perceived Stress and Its Association With Incident Coronary Heart Disease. The American Journal of Cardiology, 2012; 110 (12): 1711
  15. 15. 15 “Cognitive bias” drives perception of events.  Common cognitive biases impacting workplace change:  Ambiguity effect: The tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem "unknown.”  Attentional bias: The tendency of our perception to be affected by our recurring thoughts and mental patterns.  Backfire effect: When people react to disconfirming evidence by strengthening their beliefs.  Bandwagon effect: The tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same.   Baron, J. (2007). Thinking and deciding (4th ed. ed.). New York City: Cambridge University Press  “Cognitive biases are instances of evolved mental behavior. Some are adaptive because they lead to more effective actions in given contexts or enable faster decisions when faster decisions are of greater value. Others presumably result from a lack of appropriate mental mechanisms, or from the misapplication of a mechanism that is adaptive under different circumstances.”  Gigerenzer, G. & Goldstein, D. G. (1996). "Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality.". Psychological Review 103: 650–669. 15
  16. 16. 16 What leads to new insights & discovery also recharges creative energy for renewal – it is most accessible to us when we break up our routine. "Only when the brain is confronted with stimuli that it has not encountered before does it start to reorganize perception. The surest way to provoke the imagination, then, is to seek out environments you have no experience with, e.g. chemist Kary Mullis landed on the principle of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, not in a lab but on a northern California highway.” Gregory Burns, Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How To Think Differently Harvard Business Review Press, 2010
  17. 17. 17 Some ideas for self-care during periods of workplace transition  Make time for positive interpersonal connections;  Identify people in your network who have been through a difficult workplace change and managed the process effectively;  Recognize negative people and environments and limit contact;  Engage in unfamiliar creative activities that require focusing of attention and skill development – these trigger the reward chemistry of the brain in place of stress-chemistry in the face of uncertainty; 17
  18. 18. 18 “You cannot control the river, but you can control your progress through it.”  “ Even in a racing, rushing river, there are pockets of calm, behind rocks usually, where the river is actually flowing upstream. And you can pull into those eddies once you learn how to do it, and you can actually sit still while the river is racing downstream all around you. And by using a series of eddies, you can move into one eddy, look downstream, then go down to the next eddy and then go down to the next, making your way in a sort of slow and orderly process through an extraordinarily chaotic environment. And in our work life, we see the same type of thing where we feel like we’re faced with a racing, rushing river that we cannot control.”  —Gregory Shea and Robert Gunther, Navigating Workplace Changeg HPSActiveAssociatedFiles/16838.pdfWorkplace Change CD 18
  19. 19. 19 Lifestage, Inc  Applied Improvisation workshops  Story Development workshops and classes  Workshop design consultation  Personal and professional development  www.livesinprogressnewsletter.  