Change is inevitable. We all know that. It’s hardly front page news.

And yet, how often do we hear this kind of objection: “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

In this week’s episode of our At the Edge podcast, our guest Jeff Tobe talks about this phrase as the symptom of a syndrome. He even gives it an anagram. BTTWWADI. 

More and more over the past few years, the preference for tradition and stability in business has given way to the need for agility.

The most important thing is no longer to do things the way “we’ve always done it.” Now, it’s essential to search for new ways to do things as often as possible. 

This is the simplest and most impactful result of the Third Industrial Revolution, not even the Fourth.

The acceleration of technology over the past few decades has brought with it a demand that we adapt to the future before it arrives. We need to be proactive in looking for solutions before the problem has even arisen. Because once the challenge gets here, it’s too late to solve it without incurring great losses.

Today, the biggest innovation at work is work itself. The pandemic forced us into a remote work situation almost overnight. Very few companies were prepared for this. Those organizations have struggled to adapt and meet the new needs in an efficient way. 

Now, a year and a half into the new reality, these same companies are battling to cope with the return of some people to the office and the implementation of hybrid work. Allowing employees a firm say in their own schedules, and when and how often they will come in to the brick and mortar facilities, if at all, is straining the brains of many Human Resources professionals. 

It’s a huge mistake to let change throw you into a panic or a worry state. You do not have to resist and deny, or get angry or depressed about your inability to stop change from happening.

Instead, make change your best friend. Because truly change can be your business’ biggest asset. 

Here are four ways you can dance with change more effectively. 

1. Embrace Change

Start with this essential first step. Because life is about change. More so today than ever.

Take the first simple step by just accepting that change is inevitable – and productive. Set aside a few minutes to read up on the business successes of companies that have been agile around change. Take a few more minutes to read case studies of top companies that resisted change – famous examples include Blockbuster Video, Kodak, and Blackberry.

Assure yourself of the simple truth, that change brings opportunity, while resistance brings pain and stasis.

2. Focus on What You Can Control

There is a clear and distinct difference between the things you have influence over and the things that are beyond your “pay grade.” This is not just about your job role but also about human nature.

Even if you’re the manager or director of a department or the whole company, these days employees are demanding more and more autonomy. Choose goals you can inspire people to align with and get your team to pull together and row in the same direction.

To start with, this will have you feeling empowered and successful. Eventually you will also discover you are being incredibly effective in managing change. Finally, you will learn to expand your area of control to become faster and faster at adapting.

 

3.    Set Aside Time to Think About Change

The most innovative companies make it a policy for employees to put time in their schedule to do nothing tangible toward goals or OKRs. Instead, they encourage them to step away from the to do list and a rush to “get the job done” and take an hour or two to just sit and ponder.

Or not even sit – take a walk in the park near your home or office. Take a drive to a beautiful place and let your mind incubate all the information you’ve filled it with. Reflect on the bigger picture, for your task, your department, your company, or your own life. Think about where you want to go in the next year. Don’t plan it, just let your imagination play with possibilities.

Change is clever. It demands you to be smarter. What skills might you need to learn next? What new technologies or techniques would make you more useful to yourself and everyone around you?

4. Stay Connected to Coworkers

The biggest mistake you can make today is becoming isolated. Remote or hybrid work does not mean you should disappear from sight. Whether you’re an employee or a leader in your organization, find ways to interact with the people you work with.

Reach out. Make calls just to check in for a few minutes. Call a Zoom meeting sometimes just to communicate with each other, not because you have to. Use software to help make connection more fluid.

No less a titan than Richard Branson has said that communication is the single most important skill for any leader. Everything can be solved in communication.

So communicate early and often. This will keep you ahead of the curve and leading instead of chasing.

At Innovation Minds, our hybrid work engagement solution is designed to create opportunities to work together a little bit each day, both within and outside of the tasks at hand.

See you next week.

Michael Lee, SVP of Strategy and Marketing, Innovation Minds