“But, we’ve always done it that way!”

In my book, The Business of Wanting More: Why some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don’t, I spend quite a bit if time on what I call “The Bubble,” that personal lens that surrounds us and distorts reality. Our Bubble is created by our personal belief systems, and the many conscious and unconscious ways we interpret what’s going on around us.

Turns out, organizations have a bubble too – the cultural norms and collective belief systems that influence the way employees view the world. The quote above, which virtually every leader or manager has heard when trying to make changes for the better, is perhaps the most exasperating example of that truth.

Where the Fear Comes From

Even with the best of intentions, making changes to organizational structures, processes or cultures has far-reaching effects which can generate fear in many, even before implementation.

  • What does this mean for MY future?
  • Where is the company heading, and will I STILL be a part of it?
  • How does this effect MY job description, responsibilities, and compensation?

These and many more questions will flash through the minds of most people in an organization that is going through significant changes. Understandably, most of those questions will be focused on the individual, as they try to adapt to the bursting of their personal work bubble.

Human beings fear change because we fear the unknown. Whatever the hopes and expectations of organizational change may be, it’s the uncertainty that makes individuals resist organizational (and personal) change.

As a leader and change manager, it’s your job to quell those fears, before they manifest, if possible.

Your Confidence is Critical to Successful Change Management

There is meaning behind the phrase “Change Management.” If you cannot manage the fear of change among the members of your organization, and change at least a part of the personal and organizational bubbles that people are seeing the world through, your chances of success are slim indeed.

Effectively managing organizational change begins with the person at the top. If you lack confidence in the process of driving change, your people will lack confidence as well. That’s when the fear will begin to manifest and, once it begins, it will run rampant, like a tidal wave throughout your organization. People will then revert to the old organizational bubble, and will not risk changing long-standing beliefs about themselves and the company, and the change process will stall out.

To manage change, address the bubble, and be courageous, use these three tools:

  • Create a Vision – that each individual can identify with. Since organizational success will translate into individual success (or should), sharing your vision for the future will become something for everyone to invest in.
  • Set Reachable Goals – that every individual can make their own. Establish individual goals that progress toward the larger goals of the organization. If team members can see their own contribution clearly, they are far more likely to commit to the Big Goal of the organization.
  • Manage Expectations – of others and yourself. You may not be able to get top level performance from everyone, but you can certainly let everyone know you expect them to give their individual best.

Doing these three things will build your confidence in driving change, which will translate to increased confidence in those you’re leading toward changes in the organization. That’s more than half the battle, right there.