In my work as a leadership and executive coach, many of my clients struggle with change. Whether that's at an industrial, organizational, or individual level, many people struggle with learning new behaviors that enable us to best adapt to change. And yet, managing change is something that we have inherently done since the beginning or our existence. If you, or anyone you know, struggle with managing themselves during change, then this article is for you!
Now that summertime and fall have come and gone, temperatures are beginning to drop and days are becoming shorter. Even though human beings are warm blooded, we still tend to struggle with adapting to those climate changes.
With every climate shift, we experience physical and psychological changes that may kickstart a primal desire to “fatten” up for days where food might be scarce, resulting in an increase of appetite for high fat and high sugar foods and an accompanying drop in desire to exercise so we can build fuel reserves.
So what does environmental climate change have to do with the office environment? Well, just like with our environmental climate, we also adapt in exactly the same way to climate shifts in our organizations. Changes in leadership, mergers and acquisitions, industry dynamics, and so on, are just a few of the examples that can dramatically interfere with the homeostatic climate within the organization.
Such changes illicit primal survival behaviors, such as our fight or flight response to “protect” ourselves, our business, and the ones we care about from perceived dangers, as well as, seeking comfort in food and alcohol and decreasing our desire to be physically active. In such a state, the brain is more likely to resort to impulsive decision making, reactive “knee jerk” behaviors, and managing versus leading all with a primal desire to survive the climate change.
If poorly managed, which unfortunately occurs in most organizations today, these shifts in survival behavior and threat perceptions can result in a serious decline in our individual, but also our collective, organizational, fitness, which ultimately affects the company’s bottom line.
If you find yourself, or you know anyone, in a similar climate shift, here are six mental strategies to help you minimize that survival response and accompanying survival behaviors that may do yourself and your business more harm than good.
1. Remain Purposeful
To keep your brain engaged in your mission rather than focused on avoiding “danger” wake up every morning reminding yourself why keeping yourself healthy and fit will not only benefit you, but also your team and organization.
Watch Video Here!
When temptation does strike to either junk out or be a reactive manager, remind yourself it’s essential for you to override this temptation because overriding the temptation will help make you stronger and healthier in the long run. Here’s a bonus, each time you are successful at overriding the temptation, the neurons in your brain are being flexed and are becoming stronger, making it easier over time to resist those potentially damaging impulses.
2. Be Resourceful
Your brain has an amazing capacity to be creative. After a period of climate change in your company, you may find yourself struggling to maintain your routine and your current/past self-coping strategies may not be working any more. Instead of trying to apply the same failing strategies while expecting different results, use this opportunity to try and learn something new. The novelty of a new strategy could be exactly what your brain needs to stay on track during this climate shift.
3. Be Industrious
Industriousness might seem to refer to our ability to work hard at achieving our goals, which it surely does, but it also means expending energy wisely. In other words, don’t just work hard on your coping strategies, but also work smart. When work piles on, don’t put taking care of yourself first on the back-burner. This is ultimately unproductive.
Instead still plan to prioritize your mental and physical well-being, no matter how crazy work gets, but make adjustments in the time commitment. For example, go for shorter workouts instead of eliminating the idea of going to the gym; bring a healthy lunch to the office instead of skipping your meal, take a few minutes every hour to practice stress-management strategies as well as plan some time out with your colleagues so you can relax a little.
Remaining headstrong about taking care of yourself will greatly improve your productivity capacity so you can get more done in a day and still have energy left to be the leader your staff need you to be to keep driving your team and organization forward.
4. Be Masterful
Many people think that mastery simply means being extremely good at something, but in matter of fact, a true master is someone who has the confidence that no matter what challenges come your way, you have the skillset to royally overcome them, thus inspiring those who have not yet achieved mastery in their coping abilities yet. Instead of facing your challenges alone behind a closed office door, be visible to your team and build a team that is inspired by you and knows they can count on you to be their guiding light through the climate changes.
Knowing that people are counting on you to keep yourself together may also add additional motivation to consistently drive your team and yourself forward during those times of change.
5. Be Accepting
In life, things rarely go as planned. Many times even our best intentions can be side tracked by unexpected events. In these moments, when the unexpected happens, accept the fact that things aren’t going according to plan.
In times of set backs, it can be extremely tempting for the brain to simply give up on yourself and your team and resort to much more primitive behaviors such as losing your patience, becoming frustration, anger, and so on.
Instead of resorting to such behaviors or thoughts, understand that your brain is merely responding to a primal and emotional “fight or flight” response. Take a step back and focus on everything you have to be grateful for and that no matter what goes wrong at work, nobody is going to die.
As bad as it may look to you at that moment in time, this is not a life or death situation. It’s just your brain’s default response. Accept the response and give it permission to pass. Then regroup your thoughts and keep moving forward.
6. Be Liberated
Being liberated refers to our freedom to make our own decisions for ourselves. Your desire to keep working on your company’s healthy climate should be something you want to do, not feel like you have to do. Improving company culture because it’s good for revenue, looks good on a resume, or might get you that promotion are transactional and extrinsic in nature. Our brains only have the capacity to explore extrinsic motivations for a short period of time, which will not work in organizational climate change.
Creating a positive and thriving culture, that feeds the organization’s climate is a life-long process that needs to be intrinsic in nature because the organization, which is a collective of many individuals, have to want to do it because it feels right and makes them happy. This in turn, will result in a thriving organization that will be able to weather any challenges to climate shifts within the organization, but also in its respective industry.