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Created on 17.09.2019

Approaching change with courage and curiosity: a recipe for success

Learning to change means constantly rediscovering an interest in the new – even in the face of initial resistance. Ueli Gerber, expert in change management, has some tips on cultivating courage and curiosity when confronted with change.

Digital transformation is driving change in companies. For employees, this means that change has become a constant companion, giving them the opportunity to continuously develop further. The perfectly pre-trained employee no longer exists. Today’s best-placed candidates are those who can approach change with courage and curiosity. 

when confronted with change:

This is not a problem if we find change easy or actively seek it out. But it is harder for those of us who find change difficult or even traumatic. In these cases, we usually go through the following phases: 

Phase 1 – apprehension

A change is coming. You notice that something is heading your way. Your body responds with signs of anxiety or unease. You wonder how you will manage. Example – digitization: “I know a lot of things are going to change at work.”

Phase 2 – shock

The change actually happens, leaving you disoriented. Fear spreads and paralysis sets in. Example – digitization: “As of today, I know that I will have to take on a lot of different tasks.” 

Phase 3 – anger, resistance

You don’t accept the reality of the change. You resist and hope things will still stay the same. Example – digitization: “They won’t implement this for ages.” 

Phase 4 – rational acceptance, frustration

Your resistance was pointless. The change is inevitable. At the same time, you have doubts in your own abilities: “Can I handle this?” You decide: “If change is going to happen, let’s get it over with”. Let’s just get it done! Example – digitization: “Can I handle these tasks? – Yes, I’ve been well trained.” 

Phase 5 – emotional acceptance, mourning

You recognize that there is no way back. You must now say farewell to the past by honouring it one final time. Example – digitization: “Working in our old team was great.” 

Phase 6 – openness, curiosity

You channel your energy towards something new. Your thoughts are directed at the future and new goals. Example – digitization: “When I get good at this new skill, I’ll have so many new opportunities.”

Phase 7 – integration of the new

A positive experience when dealing with change promotes confidence. You recognize the opportunities that the new situation provides, improving your motivation. Your general mood and feelings of self-worth improve. Example – digitization: “I did it and I’m happy I took that step.”

Tips for dealing with (unwelcome) changes

But what specific things can we do to when we are confronted with a change about which we feel extremely sceptical? These tips can help:

Seize the opportunity with courage and a pioneering spirit

Use courage, curiosity and a dose of self-confidence to seize the opportunity to help influence and contribute to the change. Take responsibility and adopt a pioneering approach – instead of waiting and worrying about what might happen to you. 

Get support from a sparring partner

Don’t just suppress the fact that things are changing around you. Deal with the situation and the change at hand. Get support from others (for example, from your manager or others in your area). Talk with your sparring partners and look for solutions.

Get out of your comfort zone

Change always means expanding your comfort zone. Develop and educate yourself to meet future challenges. This is how you approach changes proactively.

Don’t see yourself as a victim

You are then following a positive path when you no longer see yourself as a victim of change, when you accept the change and are prepared to make a difference. By taking personal responsibility, you can help shape the change rather than being driven by it. Consider the good things that the new situation brings. For example, what would your professional life look like if you deal with the change right now? Or, more negatively: what would it look like if you don’t change anything?

Set goals

And set yourself a goal, because you can only be motivated if you can see that the change will benefit you. Dealing with change also always means working on yourself. While the impetus for change is usually external, only you can change yourself and deal with the situation.

About our expert

Ueli Gerber is a management trainer and business coach at the training, coaching and consulting company Gerber&Partner. He is an expert in the areas of sales, leadership and change management, as well as team development. Among other things, he gives keynote speeches and facilitates large group and strategy workshops.

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