The Maple Leaf
Vol. 15, Issue 04
Change: Your MINDSET can move you forward
Complete this sentence. Change is __________.
How you fill in the blank is a good indication of how you perceive change. People will react differently to change; some are excited by the prospect and the new challenges it may bring, while others may fear it or see it as an extra burden. Although change is a constant force in our lives, and people are more adept at managing transitions, the process can still be difficult.
“As human beings, we strive to succeed,” says Laurie Rose, manager of transformational change for the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian). “When we experience change, we may feel a loss of competence, and out of our comfort zone.”
Ms. Rose says that although change is often thrust upon us and we may have little say in what is changing, we shouldn’t see ourselves as powerless. The key is to look for opportunities to influence and find ways to take control of our reactions, learn from the process and move forward.
“As members of the Defence Team, we do have power over our attitudes and mindsets towards change,” Ms. Rose says. “You can’t get away from change but you can choose how you deal with it. Are you going to embrace it, look for the positives and move forward, or are you going to resist or remain stagnant?”
There is often a level of uncertainty, insecurity and stress that comes with change which may manifest itself as resistance.
Resistance is the expression of a fear – fear of the unknown, of negative consequences or of loss of relationships, to name a few. Having conversations and talking through what we are afraid of and what we need in order to navigate the transition is an essential element of successful change management.
“Denial, fear and resistance are natural and valid feelings in the change process,” says Ms. Rose. “However, it isn’t helpful to stay in those stages. You have to find ways to move forward and get to the point where you can embrace change and the new opportunities it brings.
“If one door is closing,” she adds, “then another one is opening. It is important to look for the opportunities change can bring. You may think that now may not be the best time to be posted or [that it’s not] an ideal location, but that situation could open up more avenues that you and your family had not expected.
“You can’t get away from change but you can choose how you deal with it.”
“Change is necessary because it helps us evolve and grow. Even some of the most negative changes such as job loss can bring very positive learning and career opportunities, but you have to get yourself to the point where you can see and be open to them.”
There are ways that people can help themselves in times of change. Ms. Rose recommends reflecting on changes that have happened in the past—such as a relocation, a promotion or marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a family member or a divorce—and identifying strategies that helped you transition.
Strategies may include getting more informed and asking questions, talking to trusted friends, making a list of pros and cons, giving yourself permission to experience the emotional cycle of change, and ensuring you are dealing with facts and not assumptions.
“Chances are, strategies that have served you well in the past will do so again,” Ms. Rose concludes.
To stay informed about the changes happening within DND/CF, go to the Defence Team intranet at http://dt-ed.mil.ca and select “Focus on Change”.
Resiliency is a necessary skill for dealing with change and ambiguity. Resilient people often share some of these six characteristics:
- Optimism: Resilient people believe that change will have a positive outcome, and are able to view negative situations in a way that gives them hope for the future.
- Self assurance: They have a strong but realistic belief in their own capabilities, and so they tend to influence change rather than allow change to control them.
- Focus: Resilient people are able to prioritize activities effectively, and can successfully pursue goals even in difficult situations.
- Open-mindedness: They are open to different tactics and strategies, and are good at generating alternative approaches and solutions to adapt to the change.
- Proactivity: Resilient people are prepared to step out into the “unknown”, taking the action necessary to make it successful for them.
- Team play: Resilient people actively seek the support of others during times of change, looking for opportunities to involve the skills and experience of others as well as their own.