Why are people so scared of change? How can we experience and implement it in a more positive way? (464 words)
There is a lot of change happening in schools right now. New curricula, new external and internal assessment, reduced budgets leading to redundancies and other large changes. Today, 31st May, is the last official day when most teaching staff can hand in their notice ready to start a job at a new school ready for the next academic year. I’ll be starting a couple of new roles myself so it got me thinking.
Why do most of us fear change so much?
In recent times the phrase ‘Management of Change’ has become a euphemism for redundancies. I strongly dislike that. For me, it plays into the idea held by many that change is always bad.
For me, and what I’ve observed of other people, worry about change is about two main things
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear regarding lack of autonomy and being unable to control the eventual outcome
In my professional life I’m generally fine with change. In fact, compared to others, I appear to welcome it. In my career so far, I’ve tended to have a new role every two to three years but that’s change that I’ve welcomed and initiated myself so I have had a degree of control. In my personal life, I prefer things much more stable, perhaps the reliability and stability away from work gives me the confidence to try new things professionally, who knows?
One thing that managers sometimes forget is that we tend to know what change is coming and be kept in the loop for some time. It’s not generally a surprise for us in the way that it is for our our teams.
How can those of us managing change make it more bearable?
Give those experiencing the change as much information and control as is possible (without compromising key things). The outcome may not be their ideal but some control over the process and clear communication definitely does help.
How can those of us experiencing change become less worried about it?
Ask yourself… what opportunities does this change/experience make possible?
A colleague of mine who recently stepped down and went part time told me how much more it has made him enjoy his teaching and his joy at being able to get out more on the golf course. I’m relishing the more flexible working that one of my new roles will give me which will mean that I can build in time to drop my son off at school once a week or build in a regular hike which isn’t possible with my current schedule.
Change doesn’t have to be bad. Change is just different and the difference is all mostly down to perception.