Burying Your Head in the Sand Doesn’t Work in Times of Change

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Burying your head in the sand does not work in times of change.  I’ve worked with many process improvement teams, and the most successful tackle change head on.  They make it a point to acknowledge the challenge ahead and proactively act to limit any negative impact.

Here are three reasons why refusing to adapt proactively is detrimental to a team and its goals.

Ignoring the change doesn’t make it go away

I’ve worked with several leaders in the past who have taken the approach of, “Maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away”.

This does nothing to prepare the team, and increase the likelihood for upheaval and turmoil within the team dynamic.

Recently, I observed a leader take this approach and it created a lot of confusion.  Instead of ignoring the situation, the leader should have taken the provided talking points and kept his direct reports informed.  Because he didn’t, the weeks leading up to the transition date resulted in a confused, misinformed middle management.  Consequently, a damaging narrative was spread creating anxiety and distraction for the front line carrying out the core work.


Ignoring the change creates additional issues down the road

Letting a problem fester will only create additional issues later.  One such issue is a rush to comply with new requirements.

For example, one leader waited until the days leading up to the go-live date to communicate critical information to one of his direct reports.  This left the department head scrambling to comply and resulted in key considerations unresolved until after the change had taken place.

The situations, I myself have been affected by, where I felt like the change was handled exceptionally well started with early and frequent communication.

Ignoring the change can make the situation very messy

Sudden change can create a very messy situation for leaders and their teammates.  This is exactly what it will feel like to frontline staff if there is not a clear message communicated.  It can result in resentment, self-sabotage and an unmotivated workforce.

Ignoring the issue does nothing to prepare a team for success in times of transition.

In today’s fast paced world, this could mean that a team doesn’t ever get the opportunity to “catch its breath”.  This could create a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety in team members not allowing them to feel like any change is positive, regardless of how beneficial.

Proactive management that seeks opportunity rather than excuses is more likely to come out the other side better equipped to adapt to the new environment.  As Peter Drucker said, “One cannot manage change.  One can only be ahead of it.”