Behavioral Advice - Dealing with change
Change: Resistance is Futile
"Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'."
I'm sure Bob Dylan wasn't referring to the business world in his lyric above, but I found the warning to be applicable to my life and my career.
It's easy to fall into a routine because it's comfortable. Your routine typically revolves around your personal desires. I see so many people at work remain stuck because they refuse to change their routine. Breaking your routine means eating at your desk at times; eating at 1:30; working late; working weekends; not attending the company party for those breakfast tacos… It means getting out of your comfort zone and mastering whatever it is that controls you… It means you walk in the building with the attitude that you can deal with any change that occurs… Expect change… Know that change is going to happen… Don't walk in the building with your heart set on indulging all those personal desires…. The person who can produce under the stress of constant change will move up.
Don't let your mind fall to default mode because default is selfishness. Set it to action mode.
You have to understand that there are people who are not satisfied with the way things are going and they are going to do something about it. Part of their deliberation is to consider the impediments to change. Systems. Culture. People. YOU are part of the problem because they assume you will not want to go along with their little party. And the party will happen. Are you going to help or hinder? You have to line your motivations up with the idea of making these people look good. Because in the absence of power, this is all you can do. Making them look good and facilitating change will make you progressive in their eyes. Progressive means not living in the past. Not doing it "because that's the way we always do it." That is the thinking of a loser. Be a winner... Always be relevant... Don't live in the past... Remember the future because the future is all you really have and there are people who RIGHT NOW are thinking about change in a way that you have never contemplated as they are ready for the next big thing. Are you?
I once read that one of the great scientists of the past was asked how it was that the establishment came to accept the theory of quantum physics. He said: "They didn't.... they just eventually died off and the voices of dissent were silenced by time...."
Are you going to live or die?
So why do people resist change? It's partly because they are lazy and partly because they are egotistical. People cling to their beliefs because their beliefs somehow validate who they are. Yet, being mature is what we all strive for. The process of maturity is all about change. Do you believe what you believed or "knew" ten years ago? As you look back on your life, you can see that you have changed. But, could you have changed even more than you already have? What has prevented that change? Is it your ego? You should be willing to discard any current belief you have the instant it is no longer valid or becomes harmful to your life. As you receive more information, you have to understand that a wise person will alter their thinking as the facts change. This is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength because it takes a very mature person to accept the truth NO MATTER WHAT IT IS... even if it conflicts with everything you've ever believed. That is why I shy away from absolute statements of fact. Instead of saying "this is the way it is," I say "have you considered the possibility of..." or "I believe this because of..." Dogmatism leads only to embarrassment because very few of us truly know all the facts. The point is that your mind must not be rooted in validating today's beliefs, but instead it should be rooted in a dynamic process of truth seeking... once you gain control of your emotional bondage to your personal biases, then you can truly be free...
The best way to learn something is to be open to another person's wisdom. Sometimes their wisdom is merely because they have a better view than you. It's not a matter of intelligence but rather their access to information. Seek information from all sources. The person in the crow’s nest knows more than you simply because they have a view that you do not. Accept their position and understand that you too would have concluded as they had you been in the crow’s nest. Don't argue that we should paddle in a different direction when deep down inside you know they can see the storm while you can only wonder...
It may be that you are thinking that I preach the ways of a follower... that's not the point. I preach the way a person can survive without power. Quietly "hear" what someone else is saying and verify it if you do not believe... but at times, we must let go of our need to be right and grab on to the wisdom of learning...
One of the most challenging aspects of learning is learning from someone whom you detest. Anger seems to have the ability to trump good sense. When the person whom you resent is able to articulate something important to your professional well-being, you must be able to overcome your pride and listen. This goes hand in hand with the idea of "seeking information from all sources." In my opinion, if you hate your boss, it is critical that you open yourself to the change mechanism in your mind. Again, the absence of power is at play here. You have someone who elicits negative emotions from you yet they not only have power over you, but they also may know more than you. The trick is to ask them questions. Not in a hostile manner, but in an inquisitive manner. In a "teach me" manner. That way you can not only learn something, but you can simultaneously disarm them as we all know that people love to either talk about themselves or teach someone something. Try to understand why this person is in power. Look for their strengths. Maybe there is a clue on what is important in your organization. Is it their technical skills? Their wisdom? Their ideas? Their organizational skills? There must be some reason for their position in life. Decouple your emotions from this process. Forget their personal manner. Study them and take what works for them for you. They will not be there forever. But, you will be you forever and the best you can do (other than quitting) is to experience the stress (this will help you in the future) and take the opportunity to learn something new. Everyone you encounter, good or bad, will impact your life. Try to see how a bad situation can be a good one for you.
I think the wrong boss can be almost more miserable than a bad relationship. I've had both… the main thing is to not lose your cool… it's like toothpaste: once it's out you can't put it back… Before you walk in the building each day, remember to tell yourself that you control your emotions and you won't give that power to anyone else. Don't give anyone an easy reason to get rid of you…
Earlier I mentioned laziness as an impediment to change. There is another word for laziness: Procrastination. Procrastination can be a sign of many things…. depression…. fear…. anxiety…. you have to get at the root of the problem to truly solve it, but procrastination is surely the enemy. Work piles up and bad things begin to happen: deadlines are missed and bosses become mistrustful of you. In a high pressure environment, especially in this day and age, the tension at work is going to increase. Everyone is concerned about their standing, so they leave less to chance. It's nothing personal. They just want to control their own destiny, so you see their face over your shoulder more often.
Ask yourself: Has your boss always been this way (micro-manager or has he/she changed their behavior to you)? Can you admit to yourself that you have let them down at any time? If not, then, maybe it's a sign that your work product is very important (which is a good thing) and your boss cannot relax and sit around hoping you do exactly what it is he or she wants.
If you have a new boss you have to understand that he/she doesn't know you. He/she hasn't seen all the touchdowns you scored for your last boss. It's a "what have you done for me lately" kind of world. Plus, your new boss needs to be able to explain exactly what it is that you do and the only way to know is to sit there and watch you work, line by line. I stressed a few folks out in the past when I became the budget manager because not only did I micro-manage a bit, at times I just did the work myself. It created tension, but later I told everyone that I just needed to understand what they were doing and how they arrived at the final outcome of their efforts.
Try to meet with your boss over lunch and discuss priority management and how you can better anticipate his or her expectations. Tell him/her you understand the stress levels have increased and you want to be sure that you are as efficient as possible because you understand it is important that he not feel the need to be in two places at the same time. Are you involved in idea formulation or do you crank out spreadsheets and Power Point presentations? Ask for deadlines... They always say work smarter (some managers hide behind this as it covers for their inability to manage), but at the same time, you need to learn how to better automate tasks with a spreadsheet or Power Point. See if you can take some advanced training classes if you haven't already.
The main thing is to become completely knowledgeable about your bosses style, down to the type of fonts he/she likes. Take good notes about his/her suggestions and review them later so you can duplicate those things that are repetitive and/or detect trends in the suggestion pattern. In time, your boss should develop more confidence in your work product. Surely he/she wants to be doing something else…
There is no magic bullet. In the past, I was forced to learn a new report writing and budget software package; while at the same time compiling the entire budget for our company (I have help of course). I spent lots of Saturdays and weeknights at the office and my efforts began to bear fruit. When went live with our new financial reporting package my boss seemed impressed with how quickly I was able to hand him new reports. There was no delay, no hiccups, no nothing except timely information that was better than before. I was stressed out but one day you look up, time has passed and things are looking good…
Work smart. Work hard. Let go of your hang-ups. These are free gifts you can give yourself each and every day. It's a matter of looking in the mirror and taking control of everything that you can. Forget excuses. Don't say "what's the use?" Every day is another opportunity to get yourself ready for that moment in life when YOU can be in charge. Don't start when the opportunity presents itself. Start now before the opportunity arises, because it can happen in the blink of an eye and if you are not prepared, you will regret it for a very long time.