● Change is part of the human experience.
● It’s as normal as breathing.
● That doesn’t mean change is comfortable.
Our brain’s primary job is to protect us from threats but inconveniently, changes where we experience loss are often seen as threats. The body’s reaction to these perceived threats can feel like fatigue, lack of focus, frustration, irritability, sadness, or range of other uncomfortable emotions. These feelings can be triggered by changes we wouldn’t expect to trigger them. For example: a change in office location may take a person away from their closely-knit team and routine; a new technology may replace a familiar way of getting things done, and a promotion may cause loss of certainty. Whether change is self-initiated or imposed, whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral, changes can trigger a survival response and feel really unpleasant.
Everyone experiences this: leaders, managers, staff, clients, suppliers, and all other stakeholders – because it’s a natural and normal human reaction.
Rushing people to adopt change slows the process down. In many cultures, there is an expectation that people shrug off the discomfort of change and keep just going. That we accept the benefits of the change, see the silver lining, and focus on the positive. While often well meaning, this robs individuals of the right to process their response to the change in their own unique way. It assumes that the physiological response to change is somehow the individual’s fault instead of a completely normal, in fact healthy, way of adapting.
This requires leaders to change their assumptions around change, loss, and adaptation, to understand their own responses to change, and to create a safe space for others as they transition through change.
When leaders of an educational institution approached Blue Morpho to work with their staff to adjust to the changes Covid had thrust upon them, we created a series of sessions tailored to their unique context. Working one on one with the leaders, we first addressed their own uncertainty, so that they could process their response to the changes and support their staff from a place of calm and strength. We then worked with staff. Through training and discussion, helped them process the changes and develop some resiliency so that they could work together to develop creative solutions for delivering programming under the new restrictions.
“What a great experience it was to work with Jacqueline and her team. Things were so unstable: we had never taught remotely before or used zoom, and our personal lives were in upheaval. There was such a lot of change in such a short time. We felt like hot pots, ready to boil over.
The first session gave us what we needed to understand what was happening to us, on a human level. The Blue Morpho team created a safe space where we felt comfortable enough to express our individual concerns and experiences. The guidance we received was reassuring and affirming; Jacqueline was really present to us and listened in a way that although we all experienced the changes individually, we realized we were really not alone.
The session gave my team the courage, connection, and insight they needed to creatively tackle how we would move forward to meet the challenges of our new work context. With Covid, the world no longer made sense and the experience with Blue Morpho helped us to process what we were feeling, ut our thoughts into perspective, and find our way forward as a team. I felt like we connected human to human for the first time, rather than professional to professional and that really strengthened our relationships and effectiveness as a team. The sessions had a profound impact on our school, they were life-changing, and we are so grateful."
- Susan de Brigard, Principal, St. Matthew's School
We Build Change Resilience
People and companies who support the human response to change are better at handling the discomfort of change and adapt more easily, accessing their creativity faster. I call this change-resilience.
Change-resilience is a skill that can be built. Let us help you build it.
What if leaders became more effective at processing change?
If leaders were able to understand and more effectively process change themselves, they would become more authentic and empathetic. As a result they would become more effective at: