We tend to resist any changes that lead to loss: loss of security, loss of social networks, and loss of knowledge, power, and freedom. Explore how you can spread your risk so that these key factors can be maintained as securely as possible.
- Although change clearly means opportunity we usually don't see it like that. When faced with a move to a new city or a new job or a new team, the first thing we see is what we might lose. So, fear of loss is always a problem when changes start to happen. The five things that we don't want to lose are number one, security. Security is quite a fundamental human driver and any change means risk. Unknown things are going to happen and this means loss of security, mainly security of earnings, but also security of reputation, knowledge, the value of ourselves, our feeling of importance and in fact, anything you can think of could be threatened by changes.
And even if you're a risk taker you need some foundation of security to build your risk upon, some knowledge that you'll still be employed next week or your skills will still be valid or that you've got enough money saved to have a few failures and still be okay. Change is the biggest threat to our all-important security. Second is fear of losing our social network, our friends, knowledge of who to go to if we need help, who we can trust, who we've built up favors and working relationships with.
This can be a big investment if you've worked somewhere a long time. Third is fear of losing our knowledge. Anything changing will mean that our knowledge could become out of date. This could be technical knowledge or it could be knowledge of the systems, how to get things done, how the place really works. In something like a reorganization or a takeover this could all be lost and as we move to a knowledge-based economy, this is a pretty big thing to lose. Fourth is fear of losing our power.
If things are changing we might lose some of the power that we've built up, either formal power from our job position or informal power. You might have built up the ability to get things done by exchanging favors and having done things for people in the past or building on the previous two of social contacts and knowledge. You might have power because you have a network that gets things done and this could all be washed away. Finally, number five is freedom. As a result of power and knowledge and social contacts, you might have built up quite a bit of personal freedom and now, as a result of a new boss or a reorganization, you might lose all that, which could be incredibly annoying, depressing really.
Fear of losing freedom may not seem as fundamental as losing security, but once you've tasted freedom you hate to lose it. We'll deal with how to resist these feelings of loss later, but one thought just for now is that if you can get these from a number of different places, including outside of your work, then the risk is spread. Have lots of social networks, not just your work one and have knowledge in lots of areas, rather than one specialist one. Because I'm self-employed I have lots of customers rather than one boss, so I'm not so worried if one of my customers decides to have a reorganization, in fact, I just feel sorry for them.
So, I'm spread across a number of customers and I also try to spread my knowledge across a number of subjects in case project management suddenly becomes irrelevant and Gantt charts are no longer needed, as if that's ever going to happen. If you work for a boss, just one boss, this is harder to do but you can still spread yourself across a number of knowledge areas and make sure that you have more to your life than your work but more of this later. So, that's the biggest problem with change, fear of loss, and it will be good to start thinking about that for yourself.
What is it that you fear losing most and is there something you can do to reduce that fear? Can you spread the risk in some way or make yourself less dependent on that social network or that knowledge or that power or that income?
- Why we dislike change
- Planning for change
- Developing mental toughness
- Maximizing your interpersonal skills
- Setting long-term career goals
- Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
- What to consider if you're thinking of leaving your job
- Building up your network
- How to be low maintenance employee
- Establishing goals and plans with a new boss
- How to deal with a bad boss