Change is inevitable – Embrace, mitigate or defend?
After a last hurrah of summer, the season of change is upon us here in the UK and the unsettled weather of autumn arrives. Every year at this time, the wardrobe contents start to rotate, the washing drying opportunities diminish and the useful light starts to fade from the evenings but we adapt, life goes on and we shape our lives accordingly – mitigate against the change if you will. Some may argue that as we head to winter, we defend against the bitter cold and endure the relentless dark, waiting to embrace the oncoming, welcome change of spring.
If only change within business could be so ‘poetic’:
Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
“Seasons” Chris Cornell
Leaving aside the wider political and logistical challenges here in the UK that are forcing decisions for many companies to embrace, mitigate or defend, every business and its employees face decisions on change almost daily. From the slightly absurd “Will anyone notice if the tea bags in the kitchen change?” to the more fundamental “Should we adopt automation in our Accounts Payable processing?”. (The answer to both of course is yes.)
Back in April, I wrote another blog on change management and successfully navigating people during an implementation, worth a (re)read in the context of this blog. This month, with more and more employees being encouraged to return to the ‘old’ ways, the focus is more on when change should be embraced and perhaps when there should be resistance. (As Captain Picard continues to prove, sometimes resistance is not futile…)
Fair to say, at the start of the Covid crisis, most businesses and employees were mitigating and defending against enforced change – finding ways to connect from home, creating workspaces, complete tasks that normally required physical document transfers, maintaining process flow and deadlines, ensuring productivity was sustained and customers were retained. As the crisis lengthened, many employees started to see the benefit of the ‘new’ way and embrace the change – enjoying the extra time before / after work, the flexibility to complete tasks at more convenient times around family life, the zero distraction or personalised music choice when concentrating on key tasks. (This author always writes to music). Business even started to report gains in productivity! There are those of course that have fought hard against a permanent change to this new way, rightly or wrongly and are rallying now for a return to the ‘old’.
Change for the sake of a change is never productive (unless it’s a holiday and we are talking about scenery). Many businesses are now evaluating how to take those ‘mitigate’ actions and create a more permanent, beneficial set of processes that everyone can ‘embrace’ or at least endorse. So how should we consider change and evaluate whether to embrace, mitigate or defend its implementation?
Find out next month in part II…
Toby Gilbertson, Customer Services Manager. September 2021.
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