Thursday, October 10, 2019

Courageously Adapt and Build Back

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP

Whether it is job loss, injury, debt, illness or something worse—when life-changing or stressful situations arise professionally or personally, your degree of resilience can dramatically affect how you deal with and move through the hardship. After all, it’s not the difficult situation that does you in; it’s how you choose to react to it.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. Instead, it involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone. And here are five strategies to foster and enhance your team’s (or your own) level of resilience:

1. Develop a strong social network. The need for connection with others is primal…as fundamental as the need for air, water and food. Having caring, supportive people around you helps you to share your feelings and express emotion, gain support and perspective, and consider other options and solutions. And according to research, the most important aspect in helping you to enhance your resilience is to surround yourself with “caring and supportive relationships”—both within and outside your family.

This past weekend, my sister and her family came to Colorado from Wisconsin to visit my husband and I. We had a fabulous time! Here is just one of our special moments we shared together.

2. Take steps to solve problems. Compare highly resilient people with those who struggle with it. Resilient people approach and solve problems differently.  Here is what they do: 
  • Resilient people are able to spot the solution that will more likely lead to a safe outcome. Resist having tunnel vision.
  • Calmly and rationally look at a problem and envision a successful solution, rather than waiting for the problem to magically go away on its own.
  • Focus on the progress you make and plan your next steps, over becoming discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to be completed.
  • Whenever you encounter a new challenge, note important details and make a quick list of potential ways you could solve the problem.
For example, a fellow team-member decides to leave the company. More work will likely come your way—at least for a while. How would a resilient person approach this issue? Instead of agonizing over the workload or stepping into victim-mode asking yourself, “Why me?”, consider re-prioritizing your work and/or delegating any responsibilities you can. These two simple ideas may be the difference between feeling empowered over being stuck and overwhelmed. 

3. Be flexible and more accepting of change. Accept the things you can’t change. Change the things you can’t accept—by being more adaptable and flexible. Here’s how:
  • Understand nothing is permanent. It is necessary for old things to go and new things to come.
  • Realize what is really important. Sometimes people get upset over a small change. Try comparing it to a more impactful change, like losing a family member. 
  • Acknowledge there is a reason for the change, even if it isn’t clear to you. 
  • Get used to the change (or new item). You might find that you like it more.

4. Nurture a positive view of yourself and maintain a hopeful outlook. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. I have found it helps to keep a list of problems you’ve overcome and what you did to resolve them. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring the problem.  It is about understanding that setbacks will usually pass and that you likely have the ability to combat the challenges you face.

5. Ask for—and accept—help. It is essential to ask for help when needed—from family, friends, and those you trust. And when assistance is offered, be sure you set aside your humble pie; graciously and warmly choose to accept it. Those who have our best interests at heart usually want to help us when we need it most. Accepting assistance isn’t a weakness; rather, it is a true demonstration of courage. And during a significant crisis—it may go without saying—but, seek the assistance of professionals specially trained to deal with a specific type of stressor and/or situation. 

Choose to courageously face the problems that confront you and you will not only better adapt to them, but also build back and become stronger through them.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Change is Like a Kaleidoscope

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP 

A common metaphor for experiencing change is that it is like a journey. Your current reality is point A, your desired outcome is point B, and the change process is the journey from A to B. You anticipate forks in the road (choices), roadblocks (obstacles), and milestones. You climb a metaphorical hill to get a clearer perspective and create a vehicle (strategy) to get us to point B. The problem is that a journey is not a path like you see on a map. With a journey—it is unclear as to how to reach the desired destination or outcome. Also, there is usually more than one way or one possible solution. 

A better, more empowering metaphor is that change is like a kaleidoscope. You look through the eyepiece and see a colorful pattern. With one tiny nudge of the barrel, you instantly create a new pattern, which is totally different, and the change is often permanent—just like what happens in business.    

And when change occurs, businesses and/or individuals tend to fall into one of three groups; those who: 
  1. Embrace change and thrive or
  2. Adapt to change and survive or
  3. Resist change and fade away…which none of us want!
In order to alter your mindset and behavior about change and learn to embrace it, one common dynamic to prepare for and work effectively through is negative resistance. 

When employees/individuals are going through a change:
  • 20% are “Embrace Change Immediately” - get on board and support it.
  • 30% are “Resistors” - dig their heels in and oppose it.
  • 50% are “Fence-sitters” - sit on the fence and take their time to decide.
Of these three groups, which do you think is the loudest? Which group gets more time and attention? And which group gives you back the least, in terms of investment of time? If you answered “Resistors” for all three questions, you guessed right. 

The tipping point for influencing others during times of change happens at about one-third. When one-third of the group or organization behave a certain way, the organization tips that way, and the change effort either fails or succeeds.  

If part of the Fence-Sitter group would hop off the fence to support the change, then the organization would tip, and the pace of the change accelerates with a successful outcome. 

But who is also recruiting from the Fence-sitter group? Yes…those nasty Resistors. And how many percentage points do they need to get to one-third? The answer is only three percent! So, as a change influencer, where should you be spending all of your time? Devote all your time and energy on influencing the Fence-sitters.  

Some resistance to change is normal. It is a natural attempt to slow things down, to a point of manageability; yet, when the resistance becomes overly negative, it can bring a change initiative to a crushing halt.  

So take one [tiny] nudge—or step—to positively influence change around you. When you do, you will experience a new [colorful] pattern to help continue to propel your team/organization forward, allowing it to further thrive for many years to come.