Change and Fear of the Unknown: What Can You Personally Do?

Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Change scares most people and requires them to adopt new policies and procedures.  It requires employees to learn new skills.  This can be unsettling to some and nerve-wracking to others.  This fear of the unknown is a barrier of change.

Change is not always for the better and causes many to be skeptical of it.  They believe that upper management doesn’t have the dedication and commitment to make it happen.  “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  Next!”

Fight, flight, freeze, fall in line, or fade away — the choice is yours.  Each person, facing the same situation, will have their own unique response.  In a Lean Six Sigma journey, people will experience the total range of emotions — from excitement to resistance and everything in between.

Here are some things you can do personally to embrace change:

  • Assess where you are personally with the change.  This will help you move through the transition.  How are you feeling?  Where can you contribute?  What attitudes or emotions will prevent you from participating as a team member?  How ready and willing are you to learn?
  • How do the Lean Six Sigma principles of reducing variation and eliminating waste line up with your own principles?  Are you frustrated with the current situation?  Will reducing variation and eliminating waste make your job easier?
  • As an individual speak up and get involved.  In their book, Lean for Dummies, Natalie Sayer and Bruce Williams suggest some specific things you can do:
    • Ask questions.
    • Clarify expectations and your new role.
    • Stay positive, don’t fuel the rumor mill.
    • Actively learn the new tools and concepts.
    • Identify what will exactly change in your world.
    • Request training.
    • Volunteer to participate in early projects.
    • Hold yourself accountable to your own thoughts, emotions, and actions.
    • Identify and improve at least one thing in your area daily.
    • Get comfortable with ambiguity.  Realize that you can’t control the situation or know exactly what is happening all the time.


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