I am at Publix eating a salad here in Fort Myers, Florida, when I see George, who has been bagging groceries here since at least 2002, when Melissa and I were living at Red Cedar Drive apartments. There is a certain comfort in seeing George still here; still working diligently.  His is a familiar face from a long time ago.  

WOW! Suddenly, I am struck by the importance of community and relationships in everybody’s lives – including my own. If relationships are strong, people will stay in their workplaces, circles of friends, churches, marriages, etc. – despite any unhealthy tendencies in those relationships.   As human beings, we resist change and are suspicious of “opportunities” by nature.  

So, how does this translate in the workplace?

Change needs to be handled with care; implemented in smaller doses. There needs to be a clear leader who can explain the benefits and the reasons for making changes, and who will take the time to listen and respond to feedback from staff. Team members need to know that their voices will be heard and that adjustments will be undertaken as necessary.  As leaders, we need expect tension and allow our teams to react in a negative manner if it will help them to air their frustrations. 

Leaders must be prepared to practice the delicate art of humility if they expect changes to bring successful outcomes. If your team member expresses frustration (tension), you should be empathetic, and affirm their feelings.  Understand that their frustration (tension) is more than likely the result of a misunderstood detail, or perhaps lack of the proper tools or resources that will be necessary to make the change more effective. Team members are an important resource in the change process. Although you should not get defensive, or resort to power or dictatorial leadership, you should also not capitulate for the sake of harmony. Remind frustrated team members of the benefits of the change, while keeping in mind your own negotiable and non-negotiable details. 

Just remember that successful change requires good intent, faith and high trust with your team. Whenever the process becomes painful or a bit messy, remember that is exactly what makes the end results stronger and more successful. Lastly, remember that all great people in history who achieved major historic change were once just like you and me:  Abe Lincoln, Florence Nightingale, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, Moses, Gideon, David…

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