Let’s be positive! I had long understood that it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown. However, I recently learned that this may be incorrect, and more muscles are involved in smiling than in frowning. Nevertheless, smiling and being positive can shape our outlook and promote happiness—something we certainly need in 2023, having lived through a pandemic and felt disconnected with remote work and online learning, not to mention the constant changes that permeate our daily lives.
With the onset of spring, and for those in an academic milieu—be it for our families or higher education—it is time for new beginnings, and uncertainty. Even outside academe, spring beckons us to reconcile ourselves to ongoing activities and consider new opportunities.
Change management is fascinating—only the pattern is predictable—the depth, timing, and duration vary considerably. It is important to recognize that the process of change is akin to the grieving process. Losing what we have and facing uncertainty often begins with denial, moves through anger, bargaining, depression, and, if we navigate the process successfully, ends with acceptance. Accepting change is rarely linear, instead it often requires us to make decisions we had not anticipated. Each of these stages is impacted by those around the change, the communication received, the ability to provide input, and the attitude of leaders at all levels. And because typically there are numerous changes going on at any given time, our feelings about them may be in different stages, further impacting our ability to neatly navigate a specific effort.
Recognizing that change is ever-present, it is somewhat overwhelming that at any given time there are numerous changes taking place simultaneously. Some are going well and others less so. Each person is affected differently and has a unique perspective. Communication, although attempted to convey the needed and available information, are often uniquely understood and received, impacting effectiveness.
All progress and improvement requires change. As we face the spring, it is vital that we learn about the opportunities for change, understand their rationale, and ultimately embrace them. Given what we all have been through over the past several years, the new landscape of the workplace, a positive outlook and consideration is vital, as together we can make a difference and create the future.