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If you have ever taken a multi-generational family vacation, you have probably learned something about embracing organizational change, even if you didn’t recognize it as such.  Otherwise, you were left out of the fun and perhaps spent too much time feeling grumpy and down in the dumps.

Like it or not, change is a part of life and work, and it can feel overwhelming. For many, the increasing speed of technological breakthroughs contributes to a tendency towards resistance, and at the same time, technology breakthroughs offer us opportunities to solve major global problems.

For smaller businesses that are just clicking along, and not thinking about all this change, life might be good if your competitive landscape is reasonably inactive but few of us can assume that will continue.

And so, we are wise to find ways of embracing organizational change. And that means having a process for making sure that change doesn’t turn into chaos. I have already written about developing a change management process. In this blog I want to discuss some important concepts about organizational change that I have learned over the years when I was traveling with family.

Like it or not, change is a part of life and work, and it can feel overwhelming. Learn how to embrace it! #smartprojex #change #team #teamwork Share on X

5 Lessons for Embracing Organizational Change

1. Knowing the Team Goes a Long Way

When I was traveling in Europe with a large family, we all agreed to spend one day at a large well-known palace. One person on our trip had not eaten breakfast and was incredibly difficult. He needs food in the morning, whether he wanted to admit it to himself or not.

Knowing your team goes a long way. It helps you predict how individuals will react to changes. It helps you figure out how to best assign work. Communications are easier when you know who you are dealing with.

2. Good Ideas can Come from Anyone

I once worked with a small company and the owner refused to accept input from anyone else on the team. It was her company and she thought she knew best. But if you have ever traveled with children, you understand that good ideas can come from anyone. It might be as simple as your five-year-old wanting to explore a nearby battleship to Grandpa noticing the unexpected rainbow. Pay attention to the ideas from everyone. Set up your process so that ideas are fairly evaluated without regard to the clout of the originator.

3. Too Many Choices are Paralyzing

Have you ever woken up in the middle of a family trip when there was no plan for the day? To some extent your choices depend on where you are. But if you have the good fortune of being in a place where there are many opportunities, the choices can paralyze the group. And how will you decide? Who gets to decide? Who has the most power? Teams need a process for how they will organize themselves and make decisions.

4. A Team’s Ability to Self-manage Depends on the Emotional Intelligence of the Team

If you have ever traveled with young children, you understand the challenge of allowing them to be included in policy and process decisions. Can the youngsters decide what to have for dinner? That depends on how interested you are in having chicken nuggets, pizza, and cookies. Can they make up grocery store shopping lists or choose restaurants?  Again, it depends. The level of emotional intelligence will help you decide that question.

While I typically push for teams to self-organize, it is not particularly efficient when the team is engaged on a short project with no plans to continue as a team.

But when it makes sense for the team to manage itself, I believe the time spent on that effort is worth the investment – but only when everyone on the team has a reasonably high level of emotional intelligence. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of emotional intelligence I wrote a book review on Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman which might be helpful.

5. Weather Offers Opportunities to Seize Different Options

Have you just woken up at the beach and realized that it’s going to rain all day? Or planned to tour the Normandy beaches and realized that rain or snow is going to make your day rather miserable? What do you do? You might need to change your plans.

The same is true on project work, and weather is not the only event that can change your focus at the last minute. It might be a power failure, a flooded basement, a sick child, or a car accident; the list goes on. 

Risk management can help with some of this, but realistically it makes more sense to adopt a flexible approach than to try to plan for every possible contingency.

How are you at handling change in your projects at work? Use these 5 tips and see if it helps you embrace organizational change! #smartprojex #change #team #teamwork Share on X

There is little question that soft skills are critically important as we find ourselves embracing organizational change. Developing more self-awareness, better communication skills, and empathy are important. Also, we all need to address anger management issues or other problems that get in the way of being able to regulate our own behavior. We can’t be afraid of change. That gets us nowhere. We need change to make our workplaces, schools, communities, and our world better places.