Have you given much thought to the effect of change? Change is regular, it is to be expected, and it is always looming on the horizon. So why do we moan and groan and complain about it? I think it’s because people like to be comfortable and change isn’t that.
One of the first things I heard in the first class I took in counseling school was that we were supposed to become change agents…a change agent who would make things better. It seemed noble at the time (and it is) and it made sense but now in reality the complexity of it is obvious.
In my second year, I took the “change” class (Program Evaluation and Systems Change) and learned that change never happens the way you think it will and in fact it will be chaotic.
Now, twelve years later, I have some perspective on this change idea and have settled in with three key points.
First of all, change of any kind is a transition, a process, and takes time. The more changes there are the more uncomfortable people will feel. You can even become overwhelmed and fatigued from change. The old saying “It gets worse before it gets better” often fits. We hamper ourselves when we expect to quickly adapt.
Secondly, the smartest thing to do if you are the new person in a location is to become familiar first with the system and culture where you are working. The problem is that very few leaders actually do this. They often hit the ground with their feet running and everyone else struggles to adjust. The best we can do is expect it.
Lastly, when change is happening all around you, put your energy into building relationships and working with new people and give yourself permission to hold tight on the rest. Relationships seem to be the key to everything, how people accept what you are trying to do, how people will work with you (or not) and how fulfilled and connected you will feel. In my experience, the effort you put into your relationships will pay off in a wonderful way.
I am convinced that we need to be kind to ourselves when our organization is in the midst of change and figure out how to continue to do our jobs and take care of the students who depend on us. We know that our students move up every year and the ones that graduate won’t be around when things settle down. They must all be served in the midst of change, because they only come this way once.