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Change Management

Putting the Past Behind You in the Face of Change

March 13, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Change Management

Perception is reality

Most of us will have heard the saying “perception is reality.” Every day we experience examples of individual and group perception in action. For example, can you recall a situation where the same situation, behavior or event was viewed totally differently by different people? A classic example of such differing perceptions can be found in witness statements taken by police at the scene of an accident or crime. (There are even occasions when these witness statements are so far apart, you could believe that they were describing two completely different situations.) In addition, what some people perceive as negative, others perceive as positive, and still others as neutral.

Create the climate

In simple terms the above suggests that you can’t really argue with people’s perception. Instead, all you can do is to create a climate in which people can make up their own minds. If the climate within which you would like people to think is clearly described, you will have a good chance of dealing with any negative perceptions or responses that may prevail.

Dealing with negative responses to change

Of course, in the final analysis, in an organizational context you may not want to tolerate continued negative response for very long. In such circumstances, it is often appropriate to deal with individuals or groups sensitively but firmly and even start to describe why an “old regime” had it problems rather than to continue to “wallow” wistfully at its passing.

Learn to let go

The process of change is usually viewed as one requiring those involved to adopt some new way of doing or thinking about things. Conversely, it often requires the relinquishment of some existing practice or belief. The reality is that in order to move forward, we may all need to let go of something that we value. At some point this is worth pointing out. Consequently, whether we want to or not, every one of us has to learn to let go, to move forward without someone or something we wanted very much.

The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Change Management: An RSB eLearning Course.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at OptimalJon@gmail.com

View all posts by Dr. Jon Warner →

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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