• Read How to Manage the Emotional Impact of Change

    Change, Leadership

    How to Manage the Emotional Impact of Change

    I’ve got to restructure my group, it’s a mandate from the top.  Three are going to have to leave.  I know how I’m going to make the decision as to who stays and who goes, but I don’t know what to do about the emotional impact on the group as a whole.  How do I manage the emotional impact of change? It’s a question that came up in a group coaching session this week.  An organization I’m working with currently is undergoing a profound amount of change.  The tone on that call was somber.  She wasn’t the only one facing this challenge. And the answer to the question?  The answer is there is no easy answer.  And that’s tough, because most of us who are in leadership positions got there because we’re good at solving problems.  We’re type A people who know how to get sh#t done.  Our tendency to be able to jump in and fix things is what has gotten us to the point we’re at, it’s our success formula so to speak.  Utilize Compassionate Empathy for Managing the Emotional Impact of Change Managing the emotional impact of a reorganization or a significant change isn’t something that can just be easily ticked off a to do list.  And this causes significant stress for a lot of leaders because in essence we feel helpless.  In our ignorance of how to deal with the situation, we often end up ignoring the problem.  Which makes things even worse.  The bottom line is you don’t “fix” emotions.  You hold the space for them gently.  You acknowledge them, don’t try to rush people through them and don’t try to change them or make them go away.  You let them be.  Leading with compassionate empathy can be tricky.  It’s not the same as pity or sympathy, where we feel sorry FOR the other person.  It’s about allowing yourself to feel WITH them without taking the responsibility for solving their problem on your shoulders.  In practice it looks quite simple but it can be quite difficult to do.   3 Steps for Navigating Change with Compassionate Empathy 1) Create a safe space.  Maybe this is a 1:1 rather than a team meeting.  You might ask, “How are you feeling about the change?  How is the impending reorganization personally affecting you?”  Ask a few open-ended questions and then wait. 2) Embrace any awkward silence that may arise.  This can be excruciating if we’re not used to it and you might be tempted to fill the silence.  Don’t.  Trust me, they’ll eventually speak.  And then deeply listen.  Listen for the tone in their voice, listen for the specific words they’re using.  Are they sad?  Anxious?  Angry?  Resentful?  Listen for the emotions present in what they are saying, even if they don’t name a feeling. 3) Acknowledge and validate what you’re hearing.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their interpretation or how they’re processing the information.  “It makes perfect sense that you’re frustrated.  This is the […]

    December 8, 2023

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    4.8 min read

  • Read Wondering how to get buy in for change? 

    Change, Leadership

    Wondering how to get buy in for change? 

    I’m always leery of people who say they love change.  I wonder what they’re hiding behind their rosy façade.  We may learn to adapt to it, we may learn to recognize there is a huge advantage in staying agile and nimble, but at our core, we often downright fear it.  We resist it in overt (and sometimes very covert) subtle ways.  A new organizational change is announced, and I think silently to myself, “Yeah right, they’ve tried this before.  It won’t last.” And then I passive aggressively go about my business of doing exactly what I was doing before.  Or perhaps I resist more vocally rather than passively.  But the bottom line is we typically do resist.  When I teach a course on Leading Change, managers often complain about resistance and the challenge of getting buy in when it comes to change.  And a challenge it is indeed.  The trick in navigating it isn’t to push hard and fast to timetables and tactical schedules.  You’ll just get more resistance.  The trick is to take a step back and think about where the resistance is coming from.  And then take a more considered action.  When people resist change, it’s typically because one of our core needs have been threatened.  Core needs come in a few different categories.  Let’s take a look at them. Core Needs typically triggered by Change Initiatives Security – our most basic need.  The need to feel safe, that our livelihoods are protected, that we know where our next paycheck is coming from.  Think about the impact of the following actions on a person’s sense of security: Inclusion and Connection – another very basic need.  Humans crave a feeling of belonging, whether it’s a work or at home.  Power – or status, is an important driver for many people.  Change often accompanies a change in power or status for affected staff.  Have you ever experienced the following: Order and Control – there may be a few lucky folks who thrive in chaos, but many don’t.  Unclear expectations are the number one source of conflict in teams and change often precipitates these conditions.  Competence – accountability without competency is a recipe for disaster and often sets up an environment of blame and shame. Fairness and Justice – a lack of perceived fairness is one of the quickest ways to erode trust. Maybe you recognize previous actions you or others have taken as you look at the above list.  Chances are those actions were unintentional, and you had no desire to put others in a place of distress.  But when you’re getting resistance it’s important to think beyond compliance and think about the why.  The more you’re plugged into the core needs of those affected by the change, the better off you’ll be at navigating concerns. Coaching questions for thought: Shelley Pernot is a career and leadership coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their talents and step into their greatness.  Reach out to me here for a […]

    August 3, 2023

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    4.6 min read

  • Read A Quick Tip for Handling Change – You Can’t Navigate What You Don’t Acknowledge

    Change, Leadership

    A Quick Tip for Handling Change – You Can’t Navigate What You Don’t Acknowledge

    Last weekend I attended a meditation retreat, which was uneventful.  A lot of sitting on a bumpy meditation mat.  But it was a much-welcomed opportunity to slow down and reconnect with myself, particularly as I’ve been running hard the past few months.  I soldered on and struggled through several hours of sitting meditation, walking meditation and lecture on the four aspects on mindfulness.  I left thinking it was somewhat useful but probably not the most effective use of my time. A few days after the retreat, I was down in the dumps.  Thursday of last week I walked around in a sad fog, it was almost as if a large heavy cloud had descended upon my head and was raining down on me wherever I went.  I thought it was particularly odd considering nothing had really happened to cause it.  Or so I thought. Then I remembered what my friend Michelle had said when I mentioned I’d be going to the retreat – “Wow, a meditation retreat.  It will be interesting to notice what comes up for you in the week or so after.  These things are so powerful!” Were the two things connected I wondered?  Indeed they were.  And then a realization hit me like a ton of bricks.  The immense amount of change I’m currently going through but hadn’t thought to acknowledge or show myself any tenderness or compassion for.  Change is an interesting thing.  It can often creep up on a person, where we don’t even recognize we’re experiencing it.  I’ve seen this many times with my clients.  They solider on bravely and stoically, through job changes – maybe a career transition or a layoff, changes in living arrangements, changes in relationship status.  There is no escape from the universal human change curve There is a way that humans tend to experience change, and it’s called the change curve.  It often looks something like this: This model was developed in the 1960’s by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and if you look closely enough, you’ll notice that it tends to follow the grieving process.  This model underscores the journey of change every human goes on, whether we consciously realize it or not.  And when you think about this, it makes perfect sense. Change means the death of something old and the birth of something new.  And it will be stressful and chaotic,  even if the change was a wanted change, which in my situation it was. My husband decided to take a sabbatical and spend some much-needed time determining whether he wanted to make it permanent and retire early or go back to work.  He’ll still not sure.  And I’ve been super supportive considering he traveled a lot for his job and was away over half of the time we’ve been together.  The first six months were great.  A joyous time for us to have fun together and do all sorts of things that had been put on the back burner for years.  And then the reality of the […]

    March 30, 2023

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    5.2 min read

  • Read The Cycle of Change

    Change, Leadership, Well Being

    The Cycle of Change

    The other day I decided to step down as an organizer for a women’s group I founded several years ago.  The decision was a long time coming and was bittersweet.  It was a fantastic experience, and yet intuitively I knew it was time to move on.  I think years ago I would have held on longer and pushed myself to muddle on.  Quite often the things we take on become a big part of our identity.  Sometimes the hardest decision to make is when to let go. The 4 Cycles of Change And this got me thinking about the cycle of change, which I often refer to as a deck of cards.  And when you think about how a game plays out, there are 4 phases: The Shuffle Phase of Change Shuffle – in this phase we’re wondering what game we want to play.  We’re thinking about the options that might be on the table.  Perhaps we’re thinking of transitioning our career or learning something new.  There’s often excitement, but there’s often a lot of fear, a lot of trepidation.  What if I make the wrong choice?  What if I make a mistake?  What if it doesn’t work out?  What if I embarrass myself?  We may find this phase to be exhilarating if we’re focused on all the possibilities and opportunities that may manifest, or our inner saboteur may be rearing its ugly head.  Or both at the same time.  We may find ourselves paralyzed by inaction as we are overwhelmed by the possibilities. The Deal Phase of Change Deal – in this phase we’ve chosen the game we wish to play, and we start to signal our intent.  We are making our first move, so to speak.  A lot of excitement again potentially, and a lot of potential for inner turmoil.  But the difference is we are now committed.  We are taking action, the ship is starting to move in a certain direction, although the path may not be completely known.  In this phase we might feel quite unsteady, some days we might feel like we’ve made great progress and other days maybe we feel we’ve gone backwards.  Our emotions will most likely be a mixed bag – there will be wins and successes as we start to make our moves, and there will be setbacks.  The choice of how we ultimately respond to these is up to us. The Play Phase of Change Play – in this phase we are all in.  We’re playing to win, to succeed, we’ve defined what success looks like.  We know the drill, we can handle the inconveniences that may come along the way.  Of the 4 cycles, this is the one that is the most stable.  The problem with the play phase is that sometimes we stay too long.  We may have a tendency to overplay our hand.  We might find ourselves eventually becoming bored, stagnant or lacking purpose or meaning in our endeavor.  Maybe we crash and burn.  But we hold […]

    November 4, 2022

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    4.6 min read