Change is a scary prospect for some folks. It signals uncertainty, the unknown, maybe a shift in the comfort level or even a complete displacement of everything familiar. Is that negative or positive? I suppose that matters on the person undergoing the change. People generally view weddings and births as happy events, and both are filled with change and expectation. I know folks who have lost their jobs and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened for them. Everything in life presents an opportunity to learn, and change can provide a very big lesson.
How we handle change can be a defining characteristic. To paraphrase Darwin, "Evolve or die." Change is a powerful motivator and can become critical for survival. In spite of our fears and misgivings, change becomes a significant catalyst in determining who we are as leaders, managers or even plain old humans. The people that roll with the changes or even embrace the opportunity to shift directions are often viewed more favorably and lead more effectively.
I read a post on the Lean Enterprise Institute about how change is as much about the messenger as the message
, and I think that's an important point to raise. Similarly (and I'll have to dig this one up), I read an article that suggests we're more against or in favor of changes based on who is driving the shift. That's a powerful consideration, particularly when we view ourselves as change agents and leaders. How far will you and your suggestions go if your message fails upon delivery?
As a consultant, I'm accustomed to being viewed as the Bringer of Change (or Chaos, depending on your view). Consultants generally are not hired when everything is going well. That's not to suggest that we only come in when there's trouble, though that is a common perception. Good or bad, the main reason that consultants are contacted is because something needs to be transformed. And that, Gentle Readers, can be a frightening prospect for many. When the truth is told, though, I can be just as averse to change as anyone else. I like being able to plan and anticipate results. Surprises are not always welcome. We are, after all, creatures of habit (good and bad).
But no one has ever innovated anything without a heaping dose of something different. Fluidity makes for interesting outcomes. Being dynamic means being open to other possibilities, sometimes with great success and reward. Granted, it's not guaranteed, but I haven't seen much evidence of someone being wildly successful without some evolution in the process. As painful as it may be, change is inevitable. Some may say that it is the only constant. Whether you love it or loathe it, it is typically a force that we have to contend with. While it may be more than we can effectively influence, it's how we adapt and adjust that dictates the result. Being stubborn is akin to becoming brittle, and everything in that state has a breaking point. Flexibility and diversity assures a stronger species and often a more resilient person.
How do you face change? How do you deliver the message in the face of uncertainty or fear? Can you overcome your own aversion and successfully bring about a positive outcome? What are the tools or approaches that help you do that? We can all benefit from an exchange of ideas, so share them here or in our other social media locations. As leaders in engineering managers, we can all benefit from learning to be an effective messenger.
Image credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/popular-images.phpTricia Simo Kush is a certified Professional Engineering Manager with a background in Information Technology and a goal to take her career to a higher level through Engineering Management. She graduated from the MEM program at St. Cloud State University in 2010. To her, Engineering Management is a fascinating mix of technology and business, people and process. She is constantly seeing the ways that Engineering Management spans industries and helps everyone to become effective leaders. Follow her on Twitter (@TSimoKush) or check out her profile on LinkedIn.