By Lynne Schinella, conference speaker and speaker coach

With great change comes the need for empathy, writes Lynne Schinella.

I’ve recently undergone a period of great change. I’ve moved to Brisbane from Sydney. Sydneysiders were aghast at the thought of frizzy hair north of the border, not being able to imagine such a brutal change. How will I work “up there?”

But my sons have left home, and having encouraged them to travel, they now live overseas (be careful what you wish for). So the childhood toys were thrown out (okay, I may have kept one or two), the house sold and we arrived in Brisbane to live in the active wear suburb to beat all suburbs.

And the biggest change of all was that my partner’s business has now gone virtual and he now works from home too. Beside me.

So now that you’re feeling my pain I know that all of you have gone through unwanted change at some stage. Unwanted change that often turns out to be the best thing that ever happened.

In the workplace, change is a constant as the business landscape shifts and settles. We’re regularly required to innovate and re-invent to meet new market demands to stay fresh and ahead of the game.

We should all be used to it and yet still change creates so much angst. We seem to be hardwired to say – no thanks, I’m good right here! Nothing new to see here! Nice and comfortable! Move along!

So if it’s your big idea that’s going to rock the world, you need to manage that change in the best way possible for your workplace culture.

And to do this you’ll need to call on your secret superpower – empathy.

The only way to manage change well in the workplace is to get inside the heads of the people who will be affected. I know I bang on about this all the time but in a great culture it’s an essential skill that leaders must have. Because if you need others to buy into your idea and come on board you need to know how their heads work.

And you have to get it right. No one was going to uproot from family and friends, exorbitant parking fees and tolls just because Brisbane might be a nice change.

Assuming that you care, you’re probably used to asking yourself – what’s the impact of my idea on these people?

I’m asking you to go deeper than this; to sit inside their heads and ask:

What do I think about this?

  • Why don’t I like this idea?
  • Maybe the idea is challenging a whole bunch of things I stand for and believe in – what are they?
  • How does this change make me feel? Upset/scared/angry/unsettled?
  • What does this change physically mean for me? Imagine walking through the change. Does my desk move? Will I have to work with new people? Will some of my friends (or me) lose my job? Do I have to travel more? How can I be away from the family even more? Will I need to buy new clothes? Report to someone I don’t like?

Only when we have the answers to this can we help navigate the way for others. And never is a trusting, positive culture so important than in times of change.

We all know that the culture of your company comes from the top. But on the off chance that your Fish Head stinks, don’t use that as an excuse. Make your own team culture rock using your secret superpower empathy.

Champion change by getting deep inside the heads of those you need on-board and you’ll be able to convince them that life across the border can be just as good, if not better.

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