Embracing & Preparing For Change

Monday, June 11, 2012

I recently went to a co-worker’s baby shower. She received a card that read, “A baby changes everything except its own diaper”. The card got lots of laughs but it got me thinking about how people react to change.

In my professional life I have worked in several different industries and each one was very unique in how it communicated upcoming policy adjustments to employees and customers. Some were better than others; how change is presented has a huge impact on how it is received. I have worked for 3 different community banks that have been purchased by large institutions (Wells Fargo, US Bank, etc.). Each acquisition was not disclosed due to FDIC regulations, until the sales were approved or accepted. These transitions were difficult for employees and account holders due to the unknown aspect of how the change would impact the staff and account holders.

Other businesses closed due to retirement, partnership dissolution and in the case of Hilton International, they moved their call center operations across the country to Illinois. Hilton was very proactive about notifying employees. They held meetings with all employees and gave 90-days’ notice. They also provided employment counselling and had other companies come in to interview and hire existing staff. While Hilton provided this service many employees still struggled with the change. At the same time Hilton made their announcement a very large, local company (Consolidated Freightways) just closed it’s doors. Employees found out they were out of work by showing up to gates that were forever closed. No final paychecks, no medical benefits, retirement funds lost. A VERY tough way to learn about change and hard on those who were caught off guard.

Over the years technology has forced many industries to adapt, close or thrive. Steel mills and auto plants have shuttered and closed; many companies that were once the flagships of their industries, are gone forever. The same can be said of emerging markets. Competition overseas is fierce and tax credits for companies are disappearing rapidly.

All these 'business level' changes, impact people. How we react to change (expected or not) is what sets us apart. I love change as I think it provides opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Innovation thrives in a challenging market. Looking at something from another point of view typically provides a new perspective.

Change prompts us to reach outside of our comfort level. Often times, we find we are much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Young children are so inquisitive and believe in all things wondrous as they have not yet been told it is impossible. Recently SpaceX sent a spaceship to the International Space Station. The co-founder of SpaceX is also the co-founder of Tessla Cars and was the co-creator of PayPay. I truly believe that if you can imagine it you can create or change it!!

Even the credit card industry is changing at the speed of light. Competition, regulation, demand and technology are driving these changes and while it may be difficult for many, it can also be invigorating and dare I say: FUN!!

When faced with any change that challenges you; ask yourself WHY you feel challenged. Be receptive to new adventures and possibilities. The results may astound you. A local coffee house has tip jars that have little cards that read, “Fear Change? Leave it here!!” We cannot change the fact that 'Change is here to stay' so we might as well embrace and prepare for the inevitable. Changing the way we view change- changes everything :)

Denise Walter 6/11/2012

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