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Accepting change
Whether you are starting a new job, or your company is undergoing a restructure, most of us find change a bit unsettling.

Charlene Smith
Women24, 26 June 2008

Change frightens most of us – a new job, a new boss or a relocation, and yet it can be the thing that opens new doors, or propels us to greatness.
Liza van Wyk, CEO of major national executive skills training organisation, AstroTech, quotes change management guru John P Kotter: "Whenever you cannot describe the vision driving a change initiative in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies understanding and interest, you are in for trouble."

She says: "Even in our company we have had recent changes. The way we managed it was to inform staff before the rumour mill created incorrect conclusions. We created incentives to help those who felt they may have been disadvantaged by the change, but structured it in a way that none felt others were given preferential treatment. You will always get those who are slow to accept change. Some may even try to sabotage change, but an attitude of listening, discussing and a clear vision determines success or failure."

She goes on to say: "We have gone into some companies where resistance to change threatens to wreck the enterprise, but every company, organisation or even country needs regular change to refresh, renew and create new ways of growing. Business strategy teaches us that companies often start dying 40 years after they are born – those that survive take significant risks to radically change certain aspects of their operational strategy. Every change is about risk, without it, we don't move forward."

Van Wyk says the following checklist for organisational change applies to individuals as much as it does to company structures:

• Continually improve.
• Become customer obsessed – have polls or surveys to rate attitudes to progress or change. Consult.
• Be more innovative.
• Increase international appeal.
• Respect and develop knowledge.
• Make faster decisions and communicate them more broadly.
• Be flexible and reliable.
• Enhance positive attributes.
• Make more alliances.
• Improve the quality, flexibility and training of the workforce and public representatives.
• Identify expected resistance and know which regions will be impacted differently – have an answer or solution ready.
• Celebrate even short term success – this builds support and momentum for change.