Kindergarten is Scary and So Am I!
Aug 31, 2012
Last week I bounced around my house exclaiming “School is starting! It’s great! New friends! New adventures!” My kids responded with their usual, albeit a little more subdued, “You’re weird mom.” Turns out they’re right. I am weird. And according to at least one change-adverse guy who attended a course at the Center for Creative Leadership with me a few years ago, I’m also scary.
I thrive on change and don’t understand others who are paralyzed by it. This is a challenge for me as a manager and a mom. My soon-to-be kindergartner’s confession, “Mom, I have bugs (butterflies) in my stomach,” hit me hard. I realized that I was so excited for my son’s first day that I didn’t notice that he was absolutely terrified. I quickly needed to jump into his little Spiderman shoes, see things from his perspective and give him the support he needed to feel confident.
No one on my team at work wears Spiderman shoes (that I know of), but several are just as nervous about change. Because it’s easy for me to underestimate the impact of change, I have to constantly remind myself to do the following:
1. Anticipate and Validate- Change is constant, whether to a budget, process, plan or staff structure. I expect change. Some changes are big, some are small, some are unnecessary. When an upcoming change hits my radar, I first confirm that it’s necessary. Assuming it is, I seek to understand the change, determine who it will affect and anticipate their responses. Each person responds according to his or her unique personality. I have to know each person individually to manage step two well.
2. Communicate- I try to help people understand the reason for the change, what needs to be achieved and their role in it. I usually tell everyone of an upcoming change in our weekly team meeting then follow up with affected people. Individual meetings are most important because each person has different needs when it comes to change.
3. Elevate- I chose this word not just because it rhymes with the others (I like that), but because the alternative, “enable,” somehow infers that one isn’t capable without the enabler. All people are capable of change, we just go about it differently. I like to get people involved in the planning and implementation of a change whenever possible. I know what the outcome needs to be. I can allow my team to get there in the way that works for them. Confidence comes easier when one has some control. My job is to remove obstacles and provide direction, support and recognition.
When I looked at kindergarten through my son’s eyes and not my own, I was able to think of a few confidence-building strategies. I took him to his new classroom prior to school starting so he could check it out, I showed him a picture of his teacher (she didn’t have horns!) and had him pick out his new lunch box. We talked a lot about what he could expect and before long, the “bugs” in his stomach turned into a cape on his back. And because I work for a company that insisted that the first day of kindergarten is more important than an out-of-town meeting that I was scheduled to attend, I got to see my big boy fly into his classroom with ease.
How do you feel about change and what are your strategies for managing it? Share your experiences with our fans on Facebook!
P.S. Our team in Las Vegas decided to take it upon themselves to make sure underprivileged youth in Las Vegas started off their first day of school on the right foot. They donated over 200 backpacks to Communities in Schools of Nevada. Shout out to the team that made it happen!
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