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Organisations need to change to survive in dynamic times

The Phenomenon of ‘Change Fear’

Change depends on people. Organisations need to change to survive in dynamic times. We hear time and time again about successful organisations being those able to adapt to changing environmental factors. We also hear about those who ‘fail to change, fail to succeed’.

But what does change really mean to your organisation, to your people?  There will be those who actively embrace change, the ones who adopt a “wait and see” attitude, and those who may consciously or unconsciously fear change.

Call it apprehension, anxiety, or dislike of the unknown, of being outside of your comfort zone or not in control of the immediate future, typically we have all experienced that twinge of ‘change fear’ at some point in our lives.

Some are bold and brave in the face of change fear; others show disdain; some jump in rallying to the change cry; we see everything from heroics, to avoidance to attitudes of ‘it won’t work’ to ‘how wonderful’.

So why is it that change can be so fearsome and confronting for some of us, yet embraced by others?

The simple fact is that the more we feel ‘in control’ of a change, the more we are prepared and understand (even if not agree to) change, the more likely that change will succeed.  Put succinctly few of us like change being ‘done’ to us!

6 common Change Fear Factors

‘I don’t have time’.  We are often too busy in the ‘now’ to even contemplate the energy required to take on a ‘new world’.

‘What’s the big deal?’ We may not see or understand the relevance of the change. What really is the value-add?  Why do I need to be involved?

‘We’ve always done it like this for the past x years’. This often relates back to anxieties about job security. Why can’t we continue on like we have – it’s always worked in the past!

‘It’s not broken, don’t fix it’. We may now need to learn something new that we might not initially ‘shine’ at.  Again this can threaten people’s sense of security and adequacy to perform in a ‘new world’.

Sense of loss of control. We are good at what we do – now that may change… We feel no longer in control of ‘what’s next’.  This can be extremely ‘nerve wracking’ and confronting for some.

Past experiences of change. A ‘poor’ change experience can colour future expectations about change.  It didn’t work last time, why should it work this time?

Change is about people – change management is about understanding and leading people through what can be a difficult, challenging but hopefully rewarding experience.

A special thank you to Tracey Copland from PM-Partners for authoring this piece 


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