In the history of modern business and government, the pace of change has never been as quick as we have been experiencing since the turn of the 21st Century. It is hard to believe that New Year’s Eve of 2000 is already over a decade and a half in the past and the second decade of the century approaching with increasing velocity. In work and in life people finding themselves in a new situation have decisions to make that will determine how well they handle the change. Different people cope with change in different ways and people facing significant change in the workplace adopt varying strategies to deal with it.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu
Some aspects of change are benevolent and easy to embrace. Some aspects are threatening, uncomfortable, or downright irritating. Much is written about “managing change” and usually this is written from the perspective of those who have the power to decide the nature of the change and to control its momentum. There are others however who are on the receiving end of the change who do not have any voice concerning the impacts it may have on them. It is in the circumstances of unfavourable change that individuals find the need to decide between active and passive responses.
Certain management theories describe the range of responses to these less favourable changes as the Three “F”‘s…. Fix it, Fit in or Flee.
The “Fix it” response is mostly available to senior managers or people in a position to directly influence the direction and impact of the change. In this way they are able to tailor the effect of the change so as to minimise its negative impacts on themselves, the business, or other employees. For some it is about tailoring the change for their own benefit without necessarily sharing the benefit with the business or other employees. In any event there is an opportunity in any atmosphere of change for appropriately positioned people to ensure that the change works for good. In such cases those involved tend to be more confident, more entrepreneurial and more dynamic in consolidating their existing career path resulting in a high level of continuing job satisfaction.
The “Fit in” response is usually adopted by employees that are either well advanced in their career path, well settled in a work routine or who have few career change options and would find it difficult or emotionally challenging to seek a new direction in the face of the change. In both cases these employees often accept less than advantageous change for the sake of not rocking the boat or to protect their existing employment tenure. However as a result they often find themselves committed to enduring unsatisfactory conditions longer than necessary and fostering continuing resentment or regret. Alternatively some easygoing types are highly adaptable to change and decide to fit in regardless.
The “Flee” response is for those who consider the change required of them or to them, to be unacceptable in terms of the future career direction and prefer to find and indeed pursue a new path rather than persist with one in which they would be discontented. In order to adopt this response however they need to develop a plan to guide their change of employment or career and to adopt a strongly motivated intention to see the plan through.
Whichever of the “F”s most closely describes your likely response to unfavourable change in the workplace ensure you take good advice on how to act upon that response.