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Is change a ‘trigger’ word?

Louise Barber

I've been working since I was fourteen. I'm not going to reveal my age right now, but let's just say I've been working for a while. I've always had a strong work ethic and an understanding that to advance, whether in my career or in life, I needed to change and adapt. I realised that part of my job was to help my employer be the best it could be, and by constantly learning and improving, I was also securing my own future.

So what?

In this regard, I am not in the minority. Oh, my goodness, I work and have worked with some incredible people who are all on the same page, but I've recently been made aware of a developing aversion to the word CHANGE, which isn't helping me in my role as a CHANGE Manager.

Change? No! Please, no more!

I had coffee with a friend whose employer has decided to remove the word Change from their job title in favour of the term ‘Deployment’. When asked why, they explained that they felt the word was almost a trigger after such a long and extensive period of change in the company, and they didn't want to reduce engagement with future projects.

Are we in danger of coddling our workforce? I mean, change doesn't just stop; it's happening right now, even if you don't realise it. As many a great change theorist has stated, shouldn’t we be striving to make change a part of the workplace culture?

Lest we forget

We are still in the midst of one of the most dynamic and uncertain periods of global change. As I write this, the UK is reportedly on the verge of recession, and households will have to choose between heating and eating this winter.

So, I forgive the disgruntled employee whose company is spending millions upgrading their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning),  who is also expected to support implementation on top of their day job while receiving a modest 1% pay increase (if they are lucky). I will go out of my way to make things simpler and easier for them to adjust, and I will support them in any way I can, but I cannot and will not stop change.

Fatigue or frustration?

Is this our response to fatigue from change? Is change fatigue a real thing, or are we just frustrated victims of bad ideas?

Who am I to say whether it is or not, but if we choose to remove the word change from the workplace, isn't a bit of self-reflection (in the organisational sense) required instead?

Is it possible we talk about change too much while it is happening? "Perhaps if we explain what we mean by 'change' and the 'change curve’, they'll buy in faster?" "I'm looking for a Change Network, Change Agents, and Change Champions..."

Are we over-promising on quality, instead cutting corners to save time and money, only to start over 12 months later to fix it?

Do we care enough to prioritise our people's readiness, knowing how important it is for engagement and mental health?

Are we closing projects too quickly, shifting our focus to the next shiny new thing rather than spending time reinforcing and embedding what was 'business critical' five minutes ago?

Are we actively soliciting feedback? Do we ever learn from our mistakes?

These are the experiences that would turn me off, not the word change. Let us make peace with the past, own up to our mistakes, and demonstrate that we have learned from them. Only then will people believe that change can be beneficial.

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