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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVID-19 and How to Deal With Change

With COVID-19 cases recorded in more than 140 countries, the novel coronavirus has become a global health crisis that is disrupting lives in countries around the world.

In the U.S., restaurants, bars and offices have been closed, conferences canceled and kids kept home from school in an attempt to slow the spread. President Trump has declared a national emergency and invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate the virus response.

The lives of millions of people in our region are undergoing radical change. There is quite simply a new reality.

Change can be stressful and confusing. There is what happens and how you respond to what happens.  Usually how you respond is more important. Your attitude is the one thing that keeps you in control. Try to remain upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic.

Here are some ways to deal with change in the workplace that can translate well to this new reality:

1: Empower employees to become part of the change.  There are several reasons people resist change, one of which is fear.  Many people play "Gee, what if" scenarios over and over when a new idea is proposed.  When you begin to implement your plan of action, it's essential that you invite those around you to identify how the change will influence them, benefit them, and improve their present situations.

2: Keep your employees informed.  Communicate as much as you know about what is happening as a result of the change.  One of the major reasons people resist change is fear of the unknown.  If you communicate with employees and keep them informed, you put this fear to rest.

3: Break the change down into digestible chunks.  If it makes it easier for employees, introduce the change gradually.  You can give employees encouragement and help them focus on small steps they can take to move toward the future.  Celebrate their small successes.

4: Answer the "What's in it for Me?" question.  This is similar to #1.  Generally, people will accept change when they see a personal benefit.  Employees who are involved in determining the benefits of change are less likely to resist it.  Assist employees in identifying what the change will do for them.

5: Give employees some control over change.  As employees begin to focus on the benefits of the desired change, provide them with the opportunity to control the steps to the change.  Participants in change workshops have revealed that having control reduces the anxiety and stress associated with the change implementation and increases their motivation to make the change.

6: Help employees assimilate the change.  Once employees begin to experience change, help them assimilate it by reinforcing the personal benefits they're gaining.

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. The sooner we learn to embrace it and work within it, the easier it will be to begin the next challenge that comes along. We naturally gravitate toward the things that make us feel fulfilled, safe and happy.

All of this … what’s happened already elsewhere in the world and what is happening now here, and whatever comes next … will give all of us the opportunity to display who we are. Let us hope that we are worthy of the challenge ahead of us.

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