Personal Change Management Is More Important Than OCM
“Organizational change management” is usually listed on job descriptions as a required skill for executives. Don’t get me wrong, it is a critical job skill. Personal change management is just much more important. When you are good at personal change management, you can come across as a “can do” person, instead of a nay sayer. You can help others with the change because you aren’t wrapped up in your own issues with the change. In order to be good at personal change management:
- You must understand the normal human reactions (including yours!) to change and learn how to manage yourself through those reactions while you help your team through them.
- You must be able to recognize when you’re resisting and be able to ‘lead’ yourself through that resistance.
- You must be able to recognize when you have hit your capacity to deal with change and find ways to expand that capacity or eliminate some of the stress that is filling it up.
- You must be able to initiate personal change in your life in order to accomplish your goals through understanding the steps, incentives and processes that it takes to change the habits and mental models that are controlling your behavior.
As a leader, you have to be able to manage yourself through change while you’re helping others. As an executive, you need to be able to initiate and control the personal change it takes to accomplish your personal and career goals.
Personal Change Reactions
People going through changes, good and bad, have some pretty standard reactions. Not every person has all these reactions for all changes, but most people have most of these reactions for most (big) changes. Think about when you found out you got a job or when you lost a job, when you found out you were having a baby, or you had a car accident–you had most of these reactions. Change means you go from the status quo to some new state. That shift requires some mental gymnastics to get you from one to the other.
In order to get good at dealing with personal change, it is critical that you become self-aware enough to recognize the reaction in yourself, and then learn how to move yourself through the change curve to exploration to acceptance to commitment. There are two important things to remember in this process:
- These reactions are completely normal.
- You will get to the acceptance and commitment stages, and it will feel like a ‘new normal.’ It will get better.
Personal Change Resistance
- “I don’t know how” (An ability deficiency)
- “I don’t want to” (A willingness deficiency)
- “I just can’t” (A capacity deficiency)
When you notice resistance in yourself, ask yourself which kind of resistance is it? How can you help yourself get past it? What would it take for you to know to reduce your resistance? Why don’t you want to? How can you persuade yourself to try? What can you change about the circumstances that make it better? What about your capacity to change? Can you do something to increase that?