Managing in a Maelstrom

May 11th, 2011   •   no comments   

Charybdis (image source)

You’ve probably heard the saying over and over again – change is the only constant (this quote first came from an ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus), especially in this day and age. Beyond the cataclysmic calamities wrecked by Mother Nature, I bet that many of us also face major shifts and upheavals in various aspects of our lives.

How does one manage oneself and others in the midst of tumultous changes? Here are some thoughts on what one can do to brace and ride the storm.
1) Focus intently on the end objective and keep your eyes trained on the goal posts. To lead yourself and team members through a period of uncertainty, you need to keep looking towards the future and concentrate on reaching the end. Do not be distracted (like Lot’s wife) by the past or let it drag you back into the chasm.

Turning back is dangerous! (courtesy of Dwelling in the Word)

2) Break it down into manageable pieces, and chart out intermediate milestones in the journey. Nobody likes to walk blind into a strange and foreign land without having some clues on their progress along the way. These signposts are important in helping to motivate yourself and your group to continue along the road while having some certainty that you’re moving in the right direction.

3) Communicate constantly with your team/family/group members. Silence can be extremely eerie in a fast changing environment, and a reassuring word now and then works wonders. Of course, this must be done with tact, timing and panache. Don’t spill all the beans at the first opportunity, but rather, pace it out in good time.

4) Maintain a buoyant air of optimism about the future but keep your feet firmly on the ground. To ensure success in any corporate, social or personal turnaround effort, one needs to keep one’s spirits up in the midst of trials and tribulations. While many would feel more comfortable and natural to stay status quo (a leopard never changes its spots), one should embrace the right emotional and psychological frame of mind when facing change.

5) Finally, and most importantly, show that you care. Getting buy-in for any major and radical change necessitates one to paint a brighter future for those involved in the change. Demonstrate an emotional connection to those whose lives will be impacted by the transformation, and remember to listen to their concerns. Unity in vision, purpose and passion are fundamental values in seeing through any major changes in one’s work and life.

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