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  • Ian Gregory


There is one constant in life and at work. It’s that things change. Like it or not, change is happening or its on the way. From a leadership standpoint its important to realize what is happening to those around you as change is either introduced, implemented or unfortunately sometimes shoved down peoples throats. Human beings essentially have three brains. They have the “reptilian” brain, which takes care of basic necessities like breathing, heart rate and the drive for reproduction. It is also where the fight or flight syndrome comes from. It is deep seated, deeply ingrained and doesn’t adapt. The next addition was the “mammalian” brain which allowed us to “feel” things and have emotions. It allows us to care for our young and others, to feel empathy and “read” others. It also pushes us toward pleasure and away from pain. It is hugely habit driven and slow to change. Our newest addition is the “human” brain , the one that separates us from the rest. It’s where language comes from, where abilities in the arts and mathematics comes from. It allows us to “think”, process and make decisions that sometimes go against our emotional brain. It is the most adaptable of the three and offers you hope for a better you with better habits. So there it is, three brains, all having different functions, sometimes coming in direct conflict with each other, with the driver of the three being the “emotional” brain. So what does this mean from a leadership standpoint? It means that introducing change first and then implementing it is a much better idea than the reverse. That if you can alert your people to what’s coming and maybe more importantly, why it is coming, you can stop a lot of the emotional negativity that so often accompanies a change that people don’t understand or don’t want. Remember this – the emotional brain will react at a 24:1 ratio to something it hasn’t processed, so expect that reaction, prepare for it, allow a little time to vent or blow off some steam before you hold the meeting to discuss it. You also want time for the logical, human brain to start working on it and finding ways to cope with it so the change is given its fair due and not subverted from day one. Sometimes you have no choice in the matter. Sometimes the change is rammed down your throat without explanation and you are now charged with taking it to your people and implementing it immediately. Great! Looking forward to that meeting are you? Well here’s a tip for you. Don’t make the change the issue. Understand that it’s going to get emotional for a little bit, but then make sure that you bring them together as a group and tell them you need their help with this, that you don’t really know what this change is going to bring, but as a group they can work together to find out. Then work through how to measure the change together objectively so that you can take a report on it back to your superiors that tells them how the change affected tbe workplace, how it measured up against company policy, how it affected relations with your customers, and how it impacted the bottom line (money savings, etc). Also set a time limit for the report like a month or 6 months, whatever you think you can get your group to agree on. See the difference? By making the measurement the issue, you can defuse most of the emotional reaction and yet at the same time, still be working for the good of the organization and your team.


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