Coming Together Through Change
I have a confession to make: I hate change. There, I said it.
I have spent my career empowering learners to grow and develop, so I guess this confession might be a bit ironic. However, I feel compelled to make it in the spirit of being my authentic self.
About six months ago, the company I worked for, Accelerated Business Results (ABR), was acquired by TiER1 Performance Solutions. To say this news came as a shock is an understatement. When Amy Fox (ABR’s president) shared the news with our team, my emotions got the best of me. I was completely floored. I officially entered the first stage of the Change Curve. (Change management practitioners everywhere are nodding their heads.)
Moving through the phases of the Change Curve gave me new perspective and required me to grow and develop. This shift in perspective changed me and my thinking. If I had known six months ago what I know now, I probably could have avoided some sleepless nights. But this was the path I needed to follow to hit my breakthrough. And if I’m honest with myself, this breakthrough was made possible because we joined forces with TiER1.
As I reflect on this experience, I can say with confidence that I am now in the last stage of the Change Curve. The fusion of ABR with TiER1 has fueled a new energy in me. Something that propelled such anxiety six months ago now fosters an incredible amount of excitement at the opportunities that lie ahead. The coming together of our two companies is good for me, good for our legacy team, good for the larger team, and most importantly, good for our clients.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience—most importantly that, while science helps us manage change, coming together as a team during change truly is an art form. As human beings, we bring our own biases and experiences to everything we do, which impacts our ability to adapt change. So here are three lessons from a self-proclaimed change laggard! I hope they help you and your team come together through change.
Let go and trust.
Amy asked me to trust her when she shared the acquisition news with me. At the time, because I was in the beginning stages of the Change Curve, I wasn’t emotionally able to do this. While I have the utmost respect for Amy both professionally and personally, I was hesitant to simply accept that this change was not only going to work out, but be better. I had an immediate need to analyze and synthesize this new environment, and to figure out what the future state would look like. (After all, I’m a thinker.)
Now I recognize that not everything has to be figured out all at once. In fact, when faced with change, one of the best things you can do is give yourself space to just be for a while. I needed to trust that I would find the right path when I was emotionally ready, and becoming emotionally ready can take time. Allowing your team to have some time and space during the change will allow them to be there for each other as they go through the transition.
Use compassion to combat irrationality.
I’m not going to embarrass myself by sharing some of the thoughts that went through my head during this journey. Suffice it to say, they were irrational. But then I had the opportunity to chat one on one with my new president, Greg Harmeyer.
In typical Greg fashion, he genuinely asked me how things were going. I responded by explaining that I was in a dip on the Change Curve. His response? “Well, that’s to be expected. Change is really hard.”
With these words, he reminded me that it’s normal to feel the way I did in my change journey. This was a pivotal moment for me in my efforts to squelch these thoughts and get back on board with the broader vision. You can expect your people to have an emotional response to change. Empathy can help them believe that organization will be better as a result of the change.
Assume positive intent.
This experience has reinforced for me the impact that our thoughts have on our actions. All kinds of research exist on the power of our thoughts. The more I learned about TiER1 during my transition, the more I saw the world through the eyes of a TiER1er: that we’re all operating to the best of our ability and acting with the best interests of our clients, our company, and our colleagues in mind. So when your team is faced with change, focus on the positive and you will build momentum.
The coming together of any group of people (be it two individuals or two companies) is very much an art, because it involves people. Most of us are messy and imperfect, but together we can help each other be the best we can be. I experienced firsthand that trusting others, receiving compassion, and believing in the good in others can make a potentially messy change feel more like a homecoming.
Want to connect with Elise about her experience with change? Give us a call at (859) 415-1000 or drop us a line in the form at the bottom of this page.