PORTLAND PRESS HERALD
February 22, 2000 -- FORUM -- Page 2C By Dr. Carol McCoy
PORTLAND-- Mergers, acquisitions, down-sizing, right-sizing, reorganization, new ventures, changing technology, and changing directions are the watchwords of today's organizations. We also face a blur of constant change in our personal lives -- birth , marriage, graduation, death, divorce, separation, new neighbors, changing health, changing economic status, new educational demands, and on and on.
While change brings stress and demands for coping skills, it also brings renewed energy, revitalization, new ideas, new business opportunities, a chance to form new relationships, use new skills, shed old ways and attitudes that no longer serve us, and an opportunity to improve how we live our lives.
Navigating change may be the most critical skill of the 21st century--not only for people who lead organizations and for those who are employed as front-line workers but for anyone who lives on our planet. What if you're not good at change? Here are some warning signs that you need to improve your change mastery skills:
When you hear of an impending change do you: Feel anxiety in the pit of your stomach and begin to sweat? Think of what will go wrong? Wonder how or if you'll be able to cope? Think of all the losses you'll face? Ponder, "Why me? What will they want me to do next?" Think when will things settle down and get back to normal?
When faced with a profoundly disruptive change, people often go through a gamut of troubling emotions before they can support a change or cope adequately with its effects. Initial reactions may include feeling overwhelmed or denying that the change will occur or affect you personally. Once people get over their sense of denial, they often experience anger, fear, and sadness as they consider losses involved in the change. Only after facing their "negative" emotions, can most people begin to explore the opportunities of change and experience excitement about making the change happen.
The good news-- it is possible to get better at change. Here's a simple five-point plan for building your skills in dealing with change in work and in your life:
Confidence in your ability to adjust is a key part of change mastery. With newfound change mastery skills, you're much better prepared to face the future and to lead yourself and others through constant change. About the Author: Carol P. McCoy is president of McCoy Training and Development Resources, based in Falmouth, Maine. A published author and conference presenter, Dr. McCoy provides coaching and training to individuals and organizations to help them cope effectively with change.