Recent developments here at TribeHR have us thinking a lot about change. As a startup, we expect to exist in an environment of rapid and frequent change. We know that certain attributes are needed to survive and thrive in this kind of environment:
- We need to be hyper-aware of the challenges and opportunities swirling around us and be prepared to act quickly in response to both;
- We need to assess options and make decisions with incomplete information; and
- We can’t be flustered by change, because nothing is static from one minute to the next.
Fascinated not Fearful
That’s a tall order, especially when “massive change” comes down the pipe— like being purchased by NetSuite, a major industry player and definitely a Goliath to our David! This is the type of change that creates a roller coaster of excitement, stress and yes, sometimes fear.
Why does something as prevalent and unavoidable as change cause so much anxiety, even for those who thought they had mastered a continually shifting terrain? In fact, this anxiety is instinctive: at a gut level we respond with a “fight or flight” surge of nausea-inducing adrenaline when confronted with the unknown. Even in an environment that thrives on variability, a major change to the status quo can make the stomach ache.
Choices in Change
As employees in a company that’s in the midst of major change, we have little choice about whether or not that change happens. Change in organizations is usually triggered by a strategic response to outside forces. If the alternative to change is restricted growth or loss of market share, employee preference for the status quo will not be enough to reverse the decision.
To a great extent, how this change affects us will depend on how we choose to respond to it. Although we now have less control over the direction of the company, we have complete control over how we react to that direction. Swimming upstream is exhausting, while catching the current can be exhilarating—and who knows where this current could lead!
Just Like Jazz
In the words of Wynton Marsalis,
“[Jazz]rewards independent expression, but demands selfless collaboration.”
Successfully surfing the wave of change requires the same balancing act between apparently conflicting forces. Without individual creativity and risk taking, the wave sweeps by and opportunity is lost for all. Without support, belief, and the right environment, leaders comes crashing down—and again, opportunity is lost for all.
As this most recent change surges through our company, we’re aiming for the genius of jazz and looking forward to riding the excitement of the wave.
Rising to the Occasion
Living and working in the midst of change provides huge opportunity for those who are willing to rise to the occasion. It is in times of turbulence that we can best demonstrate exceptional leadership, organizational and interpersonal skills.
So, rather than being frustrated by the inevitable inconsistency and shifting sands that we’ll have to navigate as our new reality takes shape, we are focused on how each of us might turn this turmoil into a chance to showcase previously unexplored abilities—and how all of us will respond to and thrive on the challenge and the opportunity of change.
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