Coping with Change at Work

Written by Andrea Williams, Organization and Professional Development

How are you feeling about work lately? Burned out? Frustrated? Apathetic? If so, you may be experiencing change fatigue, and you’re certainly not alone. Changes at work can lead to feelings of confusion, anxiety, anger and helplessness. With the rapid rate of change right now, it’s important to take time to gauge whether you’re having feelings of change fatigue and learn skills to cope with, or perhaps, even embrace change as an opportunity to grow.

Six Stages of Reaction to Change

You’ve likely heard of the five (or more) stages of grief commonly associated with loss. Did you know there are also typical stages of reaction we experience when confronted with change? Being aware of these tendencies better allows us to work through our reactions with intention and feel less overwhelmed and alone in this very normal process.

  1. Shock: Often experienced as feeling numb or as if you can’t grasp what’s happened. You may think or say things like, “I need time to process this or make a decision,” or “I can’t believe this is true.”
  2. Denial: You might try to deny the reality of the situation or continue as if nothing has happened. You could say things like, “It doesn’t make any difference.”
  3. Anger: You want to defend yourself against the change or resist it. Strong hostile or negative statements and behavior may occur during this stage.
  4. Passive Acceptance: Once you realize nothing can be done about the change – it’s happening regardless of how you feel – you begin to accept the change as a fact of life and simply get on with your work. You might start having the mindset of, “It’s out of my hands,” or “This is just the way things are.”
  5. Exploration: When you accept that change is inevitable, you may also start actively engaging with it, trying to learn more and generally becoming explorative and curious. Thoughts are more along the lines of, “I wonder what effect this will have,” or “Why is this being implemented?”
  6. Challenge: Although its name implies this is the most difficult stage, this is actually the point at which you feel most empowered. You’re willing to come to grips with the change and actively contribute to developing solutions and resolving difficulties. You may make useful suggestions, ask constructive questions and offer to contribute toward any new goals.

Escape vs. Active Coping

Experts believe there are two general types of coping: escape coping and active coping. Which way have you been coping with recent changes?

Escape coping involves changing your behavior to try to avoid thinking or feeling things that are uncomfortable. If you’re experiencing change fatigue, you may be escape coping.

Active coping allows you to tackle a problem head-on. This approach is healthier because you are addressing what’s causing your negative feelings, rather than avoiding it.

The ability to adapt to change — which typically goes along with active coping — is advantageous to your professional and personal life. One of the most important ways you can cope with change in the workplace in a healthy way is to simply acknowledge it. Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps toward managing it.

Tips to Actively Cope with Change

If you find yourself escape coping or feeling stuck in a stage of resistance or fatigue related to work changes, try the following approaches.

Take a closer look at your response. Our reactions to change often reflect our interpretations – or “stories” – that we believe to be true. In reality, our stories are often subconscious and are not always accurate. What is your primary emotion when considering a change? Once you identify it, ask yourself, “What do I believe to be true that’s making me feel this way?” This can help influence your perception of the change and better understand the stories driving your emotions.

Help others. If you feel uncomfortable with a change in the workplace, there are likely other people feeling the same way. If you can take the focus away from your own situation and direct it toward someone else’s, it can help you cope. Whether it’s a check-in with a colleague via Teams or inviting someone in your office for a walk during your lunch break to discuss the situation, the act of helping others and communicating your thoughts and feelings will allow you to better deal with stress, feel less isolated and helpless, and adapt more quickly to change.

Embrace new opportunities. Change often translates to possibility for those who are willing to embrace it. Ask yourself, “What are the opportunities with this change,” and “How will these opportunities help me and others?” Things may feel bleak when you don’t agree with a change, but studies show having a positive outlook can open you up to new possibilities and be more receptive to change.

Whether we like it or not, change in the workplace is inevitable. Although sometimes disruptive and uncomfortable, there are clear benefits to change — the development of new skills, increased innovation, and new and better opportunities, to name a few. If you find yourself experiencing ongoing change fatigue or feelings of burnout you can’t shake, there are many resources available to help, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Health4U, Organization and Professional Development, and the WorkLife Office.

Sources:

Castrillon, Caroline (2020, February 26). How to Cope with Change in the Workplace. Retrieved July 13, 2021 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2020/02/26/how-to-cope-with-change-in-the-workplace/?sh=4904dd38d207

Skillsoft Ireland Limited. Organizations Change So Get Ready. Retrieved July 15, 2021 from https://elevateu.skillport.com/skillportfe/main.action?path=summary/COURSES/pd_31_a01_bs_enus

Wiens, Kandi and Rowell, Darin (2018, December 31). How to Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved July 13, 2021 from https://hbr.org/2018/12/how-to-embrace-change-using-emotional-intelligence

Leadership Blog Series: Every Improvement Involves Change

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development

Change itself isn’t an improvement…but every improvement involves change.

We are experiencing unprecedented (there’s that word again) change on many levels and across many systems, under-resourced in many areas while managing through tremendous pressure for both you and your teams. Learning new ways to make improvements is critical. I invite you to take a fresh perspective on leading change, starting with yourself. You need a deliberate path for leaning into change and bringing your team along with you as you lead improvement measures.

Start with Yourself

To begin, reflect on the following questions while considering your current leadership approach during this time of rapid change. How do you approach problems and lead improvements?

  • Are you treating the symptoms, or are you tackling the root cause of the issues? Imagine the feeling of having your teams think about the root cause of any problems or improvements. Connecting improvements throughout the organization to individuals can increase engagement and build more value for your stakeholders.
  • Does everyone in your organization or on your team know how to participate in improvements? Do they know what is expected of them, or do they have to wait to be told what to do? Imagine empowering and unleashing the potential from your entire team by inviting them to work on what really matters, in a way that is supported by trusting those who know the most about the issues.
  • Do you expect continuous improvement in the daily work? Envision being able to systematically improve even “small” thorny issues, recognize people, and deal with processes that are ineffective, wasteful and redundant.
  • Do you include representation of all your key stakeholders in your efforts? No one wants to feel like they are at the little kids’ table—waiting for scraps and being told what to do. Be holistic in solving problems and making improvements. Not including good representation from across the spectrum to solve issues around change means you are sowing seeds of suspicion or, even worse, sabotage.

Lean into Change

Regardless of an issue’s scope, create a path toward improvement utilizing the following steps:

  1. Define the problem. Create a team to solve the problem that includes those responsible for the activity, process or action. Develop the problem statement in one or two sentences—get to the real root cause by asking the 5 Whys until you get to the bottom of things.
  2. Define the desired state in one to two sentences. If XYZ changes, what is the intended outcome?
  3. Define who needs to be involved and how. Use a RACI chart to help you define roles: who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. Consider the difference between responsible and accountable: If I am an electrician who is responsible for installing a new outlet and I get sick and can’t complete the job, my manager is accountable to find someone to complete the job.

Lead with Intention

Now you are ready to conduct kaizen, which means to take apart (“Kai”) and put back together (“Zen”). Remember, there is no “bad” information or people—the focus should be on the facts of the problem and not the person. Lead this process with intention using the steps below.

  1. Document the current process with time estimates (or other measures).
  2. Identify areas of improvement. You are likely trying to eliminate wasted time, money or energy. Everything should have a real value—or we shouldn’t be doing it.
  3. Develop new processes that can prevent or improve problems. Document them in Promapp.
  4. Implement (i.e., do the things!) Build in a loop to communicate on the implementation and the results over a period of time. Develop training tools based off your process/actions.
  5. Measure and compare to previous results to verify improvement. Remember, anything that does not add value (time, money, energy) should be eliminated, and measuring improvement is possible—even for what can sometimes feel like Byzantine university processes. This is an important transparency step to all members in the process.
  6. Standardize the new process, system or action. Use visual tools, such as dashboards or posters, to reinforce the processes.

Ongoing steps in the process: Celebrate successes whether big or small, maintain continuous monitoring as situations change, and continue to embark on improvements.

Change Management Strategist, Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta, describes change leadership as “the ability to influence and inspire action in others, and respond with vision and agility during periods of growth, disruption or uncertainty to bring about the needed change.” Approach improvements with intentionality to be an influential leader of change during our current period of transition.

Interested in learning more? Recommended SourceLive articles are listed below, and the Organization and Professional Development department can be reached at prodev@hr.msu.edu for specialized support.

Recommended Reading

Sources

Balzer, W., Francis, D., Krehbiel, T., Shea, N. A review and perspective on lean in higher education. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William-Balzer/publication/308000035_A_review_and_perspective_on_Lean_in_higher_education/links/5ea32ac6299bf112560c188d/A-review-and-perspective-on-Lean-in-higher-education.pdf (log-in required)

Jenkins, Alison. Advancing lean leadership. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/advancing-lean-leadership#

Neumeyer, Adrian. Create a RACI chart so everyone knows their role. https://www.tacticalprojectmanager.com/raci-chart-explanation-with-example

Leadership Blog Series: Recognizing and Managing Stress During Times of Change

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development

Based on some of my behavior choices over the past year (e.g., purchasing 50 lbs. of flour — why?), some might say I did not handle the stress of the pandemic very well. I’d have to agree. Personally, it was terrifying last spring when the threat of economic collapse seemed imminent. Those fears lessened but were then replaced by worries of illness, death, and the safety of my loved ones as the pandemic doubled down in Michigan and throughout the world.

Many of us are now preparing for a new kind of stress that reflects more unknowns, such as potential changes in work location, expectations, tasks, and what that all means to us as employees and colleagues. We are collectively experiencing unprecedented change across the organization by virtue of budget impacts and changes in senior leaders — both of which have a way of cascading through an organization and challenging the status quo.

Check Your Stress Level

One thing the pandemic did not do was ease the “normal” stressors in life such as divorce, familial issues, debt, and job change, to name a few. Consider taking the Life Change Stress Test, a self-assessment scale developed as a predictor of an individual’s well-being and the likelihood of illness. Where are you currently on the life-change stress index?

We may not share a common experience to change. What one person feels is a great idea might feel like an unnecessary and stressful change to another. You might find exhilaration in tackling new systems while others might find the same experience overwhelming. How leaders navigate these next few crucial months is expected to impact employee stress and, therefore, employee motivation and satisfaction — essential aspects of building a healthy and positive culture for our students and colleagues.

Are You Languishing?

The fact is there are many unknowns still surrounding the pandemic that, when combined with our everyday stress to navigate, can lead to even fun activities like weddings and graduations causing an increase in stress and a decrease in motivation.

In the work context, the continuous change we have been experiencing along with ongoing uncertainty can lead to what Adam Grant of The New York Times recently described as languishing. People may not be considered depressed, but they’re not flourishing either. After months of being on high alert, our bodies and brains are likely tired, stressed, and burned out by this state of hypervigilance.

Reduce the Impact of Stress

Keep in mind that stress does not need to be negative to have an impact on you, and not all stress needs to be immense to add up. Often, it is the compounding of little things that have a large impact. Recognizing your typical and atypical stressors — be they “positive” or “negative” — and how they impact you personally and professionally can better prepare you to successfully manage your stress and move out of a state of languishing. Engaging in reframing your situation, learning new coping strategies, exercising, or seeking services through Health4U Stress Reduction, your healthcare provider or EAP are all places to begin.

Take some simple steps to help yourself and your team get through this period of continuing uncertainty with improved stress management strategies and increased motivation. Here are a few additional, self-paced resources you might find helpful:

elevateU Online Resources

Additional Resources

Grant, A., May 5, 2021. There’s a name for the blah you are feeling: It’s called languishing. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

Holmes, T.H., and Rahe, T.H. “The Social Readjustment Rating Scale,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 11:213, 1967. https://www.dartmouth.edu/eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf

Leadership Blog Series: Preparing for the Next Normal

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development

In March 2020, we embarked on an incredible journey. Do you remember the shock when, seemingly overnight, everything changed at work and in our community? Thinking it would only be a couple of weeks, then two months, then six, and so on as reality set in? I imagine that few, if any, of us would have ever expected a collective and comprehensive change in our lives quite like this.

As we turn our thoughts to creating the “next normal,” many will experience a new set of emotions and challenges. We might keep wishing for things to go “back to normal,” even when we intellectually know it’s not possible. MSU will remain a residential university and being present is essential for the experience.

So, how do we prepare for an uncertain future as we begin to bring the campus back to a fuller vibrancy? Consider the following:

Start with being self-reflective

  • Honor that this experience has been hard for everyone, although not always in the same ways. Remember that we have our shared experience, but we did not share the same experience.
  • Appreciate those who continued to report in-person throughout the past year and those who continued to work remotely. It took everyone to get us through.
  • Make a list of your and your team’s accomplishments. It’s beneficial to reflect on the positive. Did you learn new skills? Create new processes?
  • Start thinking about how you might approach work differently.
  • Be grateful.

Be intentional

Approach the next set of changes with thoughtfulness and intentionality, considering how they will impact individuals and teams. Luckily, upcoming transitions will likely be gradual as opposed to the abruptness of going to “pandemic rules” last year. In all cases, consider how change will affect both employees and operations.

  • Prepare for change by engaging in discussions around work expectations, challenges, and changes in teams (e.g., what to expect regarding breaks, lunch, and dress code).
  • Allow ample time for employees to adjust to returning to campus as this is another major change. Those who have been on-site will also experience this change. Many employees will have new arrangements to make, and a lack of consideration for their needs will lead to disengagement.
  • Be prepared to utilize resources such as the MSU Employee Assistance Program, Guide to Remote Access, and others. Anticipate and address conflict. This adjustment will include following the MSU Community Compact, differences of opinion regarding vaccinations, and how employees will feel if co-workers choose not to disclose or get a COVID-19 vaccination, to name only a few.
  • Continue to be inclusive. Announcements, meetings, and other common workplace activities can impact teams, particularly with a mix of on-premise and remote employees. No one wants to feel excluded or that they missed something.

Be mindful of transitions

As we move forward, it’s critical to not just consider changes but also transitions. Consider the following quote from William Bridges:

“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”

Anticipate that your team may need support engaging with the transitions of our “next normal.” Take advantage of the resources provided by MSU and understand that this is an expected part of the process. Prepare yourself and your team for the changes and transitions ahead, and you can use 2020 as a springboard to the next, better normal.

Source:

Bridges, W. (2017). Managing transitions: making the most of change. Da Capo.

Organizational Change as a Pathogen: An Analogy for Leaders

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development.

As we continue to navigate the current normal, we must also move forward. Budget constraints, retirements, realignments and other changes are just a part of life in every organization, even in non-pandemic times. Even though changes may be substantial, we retain people, systems, processes, facilities, and our shared understanding to create our new reality. Change may be rapid, but generally, it is also incremental.

In the article The University Immune System: Overcoming Resistance to Change an unusual, yet useful, analogy is described of change in complex systems. Think of implementing change in organizations in a similar context as the immunological response to a pathogen introduced to the human body. No relationship exists between these two systems on the surface; however, the parallels can illustrate the difficulties of introducing and making change stick.

Reacting to Change

As change is introduced within your team, staff and faculty may resist change, often affecting operational and financial realities. Even when a change is likely to produce benefits, there will be resistance expressed in various ways. Change is relative to each individual and how individual team members affect the system in their response to change. The resistance lies within the innate response of the system to change, and this resistance has been referred to as the “institutional immune system.”

In comparison, an invading pathogen needs to infect a host to carry out its mission, and the body will then marshal its forces to fight against this change. In an organizational sense, change is that threat, and the people in the system can form a response that reacts or overreacts to a threat, be it real or perceived. This response to the threat—the new idea or change—is designed to maintain the status quo and reduce unknowns and unproven risks.

Effective Leadership in Times of Change

There are many barriers present in an organization preventing the adaption of change. We can overcome these barriers—these intrusions to the system—by anticipating and being prepared. Have several strategies at the ready to foster acceptance of the change intended to improve the organization. These strategies include:

  • Improving leadership development skills around change and communication.
  • Recognizing and focusing attention on effective communication.
  • Effective rewards for new expectations.
  • Pacing/timing changes realistically.

Leaders should take the time to plan strategies for individuals’ varied responses—those who are eager, those who take a “wait and see” approach, and those who are slow to accept change. These strategies will help reduce the threat of change and improve adaptation.

Follow the steps below to support the implementation and acceptance of change within your team:

  1. Plan for change as a system of people, process, and culture.
  2. Embrace resistance as natural and not personal.
  3. Give the “why.”
  4. Establish open, two-way communication.
  5. Celebrate the wins, regardless of how small.

Collectively, we will not be returning to our previous, pre-COVID state, and attempting to do so would hardly signal progress toward the future. Resistance is a natural defense mechanism. Your challenge is to be mindful of different strategies and appeals for the different members of your team to effectively work with the resistance and move forward together.

Source:

Gilley, A., Godek, M., & Gilley, J. W. (2009). The University Immune System: Overcoming Resistance to Change. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 2(3), 1-6.

Leading Change with Emotional Intelligence

Written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager, MSU HR Organization & Professional Development

Emotions tend to run high during times of change, and to navigate effectively for themselves and others, leaders need emotional intelligence (EQ). At its essence, EQ is the ability to regulate oneself and effectively interact with others. To help leaders assess all essential EQ traits, Harvard researcher Daniel Goleman shares that EQ is comprised of these four key components (Goleman, 2020):

  • Self-Awareness: To understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as personal strengths and limitations
  • Self-Management: To demonstrate emotional self-control, adaptability, striving for excellence, an appreciation of feedback and a positive outlook.
  • Social Awareness: To have the capacity and demonstrate an ability for empathy and to read the dynamics of a group or organization.
  • Relationship Management: To deal effectively with conflict, facilitate teamwork, and demonstrate the capacity to influence, mentor and inspire others.

While these skills can be more natural for some leaders than others, all can be learned and are critical as we lead the way through changing times. The article Using Emotional Intelligence to Lead in Higher Education notes, “when leaders apply the principles of Emotional Intelligence in their daily leadership practices, a myriad of congruent studies on working environments and job satisfaction revealed that self-efficacy is heightened. Essentially, not only do people feel more valued, they feel a heightened sense of empowerment and confidence in their ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals” (Vinciguerra, 2017). All of this is particularly critical when leading through change, when people tend to be stressed and fearful. Conversely, leaders who are lacking in these skills tend to struggle with behavioral problems within the team and a lack of progress in the change effort.

It should also be noted that while essential, EQ skills are not all that is required for leaders to advance a changing organization. Dwindling budgets have to be managed, data must be analyzed and critical decisions must be made. This is not an either/or proposition. Leaders must balance the analytic responsibilities of their position within a socio-emotional context. This requires a conscious effort as each is processed through different neural networks in the brain, and we tend to get stuck in one or the other. The article The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence by Melvin Smith describes these two neural networks as the analytic network and the empathetic network (Smith, 2020). Smith also provides the following strategies for increasing your capacity to attend to both:

  1. Be aware of your “go-to” neural network. This requires mindfulness. Questions for reflection include:
    • How am I processing the situation at this moment? Am I thinking about concrete facts? Creative possibilities?
    • What types of situations tend to pull me to the analytic network and when am I most likely to be pulled to the empathetic network?
    • On the whole, which do I tend to go to more naturally?
  2. Exercise the neural network that isn’t your “go-to.”
    • To exercise your empathetic network: practice having conversations where your goal is to fully understand the other person, as opposed to solving their problem or changing their mind. Really tune into that person, noting their body language, tone of voice, etc. Practice challenging your own assumptions and considering other possibilities.
    • To exercise your analytic network: Set a timeline for a task you need to complete and hold yourself to it. Identify a situation at work that needs a creative outcome. Do research, list pros and cons of options, look at risks and benefits and compile information to develop a framework.
  3. Practice balancing both.
    • Be clear on your intention to consider both.
    • Think about the implications of your decisions from both a relational and technical perspective.

The need for this balance and the importance of EQ in leadership has only magnified through the current pandemic. Continually changing data points, additional task force work, change fatigue and more have made the job of leaders more difficult, in addition to dealing with the fears, stressors and work changes for their teams. In exploring how EQ can be most helpful in this environment, the article Emotional intelligence during the pandemic: 5 tips for leaders encourages leaders to focus on creating psychological safety, welcoming respectful dissent while not tolerating personal attacks, modeling empathy, and inviting challenges to the status quo (Clark, 2020). Frequent communication continues to be essential as well, both to communicate potential changes and to check in with others to see how they are doing. By strengthening connections with peers and employees and actively working to create a positive environment, we will weather the storm and be positioned for a successful future.

The following resources in elevateU provide additional learning opportunities:

Sources:

Clark, T. (2020,April 29) Emotional intelligence during the pandemic: 5 tips for leaders. Retrieved November 10, 2020 from https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2020/4/emotional-intelligence-crisis

Goleman, D. (2020, June 9) Harvard researcher says the most emotionally intelligent people have these 12 traits. Which do you have? Retrieved November 10, 2020 from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/09/harvard-psychology-researcher-biggest-traits-of-emotional-intelligence-do-you-have-them.html

Smith, M., Van Oosten, E., Boyatzis, R. (2020, June 12) The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved November 10, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2020/06/the-best-managers-balance-analytical-and-emotional-intelligence

Vinciguerra, S. (2020, October 20) Using Emotional Intelligence to Lead in Higher Education. Retrieved November 10, 2020 from https://sunysail.org/2017/10/20/using-emotional-intelligence-to-lead-in-higher-education/

Decision Making Through Constant Change

This is a guest post written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager, MSU HR Organization and Professional Development

Remember the good old days, pre-COVID, when we talked about the stress of rapid change? Sure, we talked about VUCA, but only now do we truly understand what Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous means for ourselves and our organization. The last six months have been a never-ending test of our stamina, courage, and ability to pivot quickly, and many of our tried and true methods of approaching work and leadership have been challenged. As stated in the McKinsey & Company article Decision Making in Uncertain Times, “The typical approach of many companies, big and small, will be far too slow to keep up in such turbulence. Postponing decisions to wait for more information might make sense during business as usual. But when the environment is uncertain—and defined by urgency and imperfect information—waiting to decide is a decision in itself” (Alexander et al., 2020).

To move forward in this environment, here are some principles to keep in mind:

  1. Take a breath. To make good decisions, you need oxygen going to your brain. You might feel a sense of urgency, or even panic, but it is worthwhile to take some deep breaths and reflect on the situation at hand before brainstorming solutions or making decisions (Alexander et al., 2020).
  2. Collect information. Do you have any data? Past precedence? Do a quick literature scan on best practices to get ideas. Consider impacts to stakeholders and get their perspectives. You likely won’t have a great deal of time to explore every possible option but do your homework to the best of your ability, given the urgency of the need.
  3. Involve others. If there’s one thing we’ve learned through this pandemic, it’s that none of us can do it all alone. Talk to your peers to see who else is facing this challenge so that you can share ideas or partner on a solution. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers. Tap the wisdom of your team or other groups on campus or even other institutions (Alexander et al., 2020).
  4. Mitigate bias. The NeuroLeadership Institute offers some key types of bias to be aware of as you make decisions (2019):
    • Similarity bias. Simply put, we prefer what is like us over what is different. An example is hiring people who they perceive to be like them. Make an active effort to get input and feedback from those who are different, or you’ll likely be short-sighted.
    • Expedience bias. We choose the quickest alternative. Make sure you are not going just on one data point without considering options.
    • Experience bias. We see our perception as truth. How would a new employee view this? Someone from another generation? Seek feedback and don’t assume your view is the only one.
    • Distance bias. We prefer what’s closer over what’s farther away and, as a result, can miss some unique solutions.
    • Safety bias. We protect against loss more than we seek to gain. When it comes to COVID-19, we need to take every safety precaution. In non-health related issues, taking calculated risks helps to propel us forward and innovate.
  5. Consider alternatives. Look not only at how your decisions will impact the current situation, but where they might fit in after the pandemic. Weigh out potential risks and benefits for both the short and long game. Weigh options through the lens of broader organizational priorities and realities, considering values, impact on students, budget, staff engagement and more.
  6. Make the decision. After expediently doing all the above, you must decide and then make that decision clear to others. Remember, you will make the best decision you can with the time and information you have at that moment.
  7. Execute and evaluate. Some leaders forget that the real work begins after the decision is made. Be clear on who will execute the decision, timelines and parameters. Check in to see how things are going, if informing variables have changed or if support is needed. Empower your leaders as much as possible to make the day to day decisions to get the job done.
  8. Reflect. After implementation, take a few moments to consider how the decision went and what you and others can learn.

I’m sure we’ll all have much to reflect on once we move past this incredible time in history. Until then, the challenges keep coming, and we’ll continue to take them on. Don’t forget to lean on each other. You are not alone in feeling the weight of the work and decisions that face you. Talking with trusted colleagues can lighten the load. As this Inside Higher Ed article says, “Unlike many external critics, they understand that one ‘good’ often conflicts with another, and that choices are inevitably made among flawed options in imperfect conditions with limited information. You do the best you can, and you live with it” (Dean Dad, 2012). Good luck and good health to you all.

Sources:

Alexander, A., De Smet, A., and Weiss, L., (March 24, 2020) Decision Making in Uncertain Times, Retrieved October 13, 2020 from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/decision-making-in-uncertain-times

Benjamin, D. Komlos, D., (July 20, 2020) The Pandemic is Teachings to Embrace Uncertainty and Build it into Decision Making. Retrieved October 13, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjaminkomlos/2020/07/20/the-pandemic-is-teaching-us-to-embrace-uncertainty-and-build-it-into-decision-making/#710a1d1a6faa

NeuroLeadership Institute (April 9, 2019) The 5 Biggest Biases that Affect Decision Making. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from  https://neuroleadership.com/your-brain-at-work/seeds-model-biases-affect-decision-making/

Cole, B. M. (April 14, 2020) Seven Simple Steps for Good Decision Making During a Crisis. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2020/04/14/follow-these-7-steps-for-good-decision-making-in-a-crisis/#5dd83f933fe4

Dean Dad (March, 2012) Ask the Administrator: If I Become a Dean, Will my Faculty Colleagues Shun Me? Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/confessions-community-college-dean/ask-administrator-if-i-become-dean-will-my-faculty

Motivational Monday Round-Up

During these times of remote work, it can be hard to find motivation, especially after a holiday weekend. If you are one of the many struggling to get a bit of pep in your step this week, you are in luck as Todd Bradley, Senior Learning and Organization Development Specialist in HR Organization and Professional Development, is back with more Motivational Monday videos! Designed to encourage you during a time with many stressors and unknowns, Todd’s Motivational Monday videos provide quick and easy inspiration to start your day off right or get you back on track during a mid-afternoon slump.

Motivational Monday: Motivational Enhancement

To enhance motivation, Todd explores the stages of change and transition.

Motivational Monday: Maximizing the Spartan Experience

Todd shares his tips on how to positively maximize the Spartan Experience during these times of great challenges.

Motivational Monday: Enhanced Communication

Todd outlines how to ask the important questions to improve communication in the work place.

Visit the MSU HR YouTube channel to view additional Motivational Monday videos as they’re posted. You may also want to check out Todd’s previous videos in May’s Motivational Monday Round-Up.

Rapid Change: Making Your Way Through

This is a guest post by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development.

Prior to the pandemic, we lived in a time of rapid change. Megatrends like globalization and technological advancements have resulted in a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA). Some find this reality to be exciting, some find it threatening, and now all are faced with the new challenges brought by COVID-19. We are called upon to navigate uncharted terrain and that isn’t easy. Leading through this time and beyond requires strong self-awareness and self-care, along with taking care of those in your charge. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Choose Where to Expend Your Energy

Worry can feel very active and spending time in that space can seem like you are working on something productive; in reality, you are just burning through energy that could be better spent. When you notice yourself worrying about what might happen or stewing about something that happened in the past, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do about it now?”

Consider your Sphere of Influence:

Graphic representing one's sphere of influence. Three circles are centered on top of each other. The smallest circle in the middle represents "control," the next biggest circle represents "possible influence but no control," and the largest circle represents "no control."
  • No Control. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to change or influence the situation, your work is to assess whether you can learn from it, then let it go and refocus on something else. This would apply to things like the weather and essentially anything that has happened in the past.
  • Possible Influence but No Control. If there is a step you can take that may influence an outcome, person, or situation, determine what action you can take to maximize that influence, follow through, and then let it go. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that worrying about it means it is within your control. Release.
  • Control. If the issue you are wrestling with is completely within your control, you are likely looking in the mirror. You have control over your decisions, attitude, and behavior. What self-care practice can you initiate? What can you learn? What can you do to support someone else?  What action can you take that you’ve been putting off?

Prioritize Work for Yourself and Your Team

The priorities you have now might be very different from what they were a month or two ago. Re-evaluate everything on your plate on a regular basis. Is it all still a priority? Are there other items that have bumped higher on the list? What changes had you planned that can now be postponed or slowed because of new priorities?

It is essential to look at time and resources to see if your goals are realistic within the timeframes set. Sometimes, particularly during a crisis, it can be difficult to do this as there are numerous essential projects that have to be done, but don’t just rely on that assumption. Think it through, engage in conversations, and problem solve ways to avoid burning out yourself and others. Consider these additional change strategies from Forbes.

Coping with Change Overload

As outlined by American Management Association, “Since all people respond differently to change, it’s also crucial to consider how to deal with change overload. This can manifest itself in many ways, including employees feeling excluded from the change process, expressing concern over unrealistic timelines, feeling overwhelmed by what they perceive as too many changes coming too quickly, poor engagement, concerns about insufficient resources, and more. Those leading change must proactively establish guidelines for dealing with change overload, and strategize new ways to gain buy-in, remove silos, communicate openly, and eliminate barriers.” Access the American Management Association’s free guide on The Manager’s Role During Change.

Learn from the Journey

As we move through this unique time, don’t lose sight of all that you’ve learned and contemplate what will be useful to bring forward. Have you or other team members learned new skills or developed a new way to collaborate? Did you create a new approach to an old problem? Did you seek input and address a new issue you hadn’t anticipated? Make sure that you document that learning and think about what will be useful as we move past this crisis. Necessity is the mother of invention, so don’t let all that important, creative work go to waste.

Approaching change in an intentional, thoughtful and strategic way can help you and others stay steady and healthy during the experience and beyond. All of us hit points of resistance at times. That is normal and something that can be learned from and worked through. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” It will be exciting to see what we build together as MSU moves forward.

Sources:

Managing Change-How to Navigate COVID-19 and the Changes to Come. (2020, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.amanet.org/articles/managing-change-how-to-navigate-covid-19-and-the-changes-to-come/