How To Triumph Over Change Exhaustion | Part II
Emending A Different Type Of Identity Theft
The Power Of One Question
One at a time I interviewed ten leaders of a regional bank on the East Coast as part of a project to help them out of a time of marketplace changes and uncertainty. We began each one-on-one session with the same question. It’s a simple question really. The kind that’s a good place to start when pealing back the layers of what’s going on, why they weren’t growing and to chart a new path forward.
The first two executives had different answers. So did the third and fourth and fifth. And by the time I finished with all ten, not one had the same answer to this question: “What is this bank?” No two shared the same perspective on the identity of their organization. Their bout with change exhaustion robbed them of their sense of brand.
This is one of most significant side effects change often has on an organization.
Change exhaustion can and will rob your business and yourself of your sense of identity. The first step to overcoming change exhaustion – for businesses and individuals – is to regain and reclaim your identity. This takes a lot of hard work, but it’s essential and it pays off.
This “Identity Theft” Can Happen To You, Too
Change exhaustion shakes the sense of identity with teams and individuals as the result of ongoing, perpetual anxiety and uncertainty. See Part I for an explanation of how we react to change and why it impacts our productivity, teamwork, engagement and bottom line. The longer it lasts, the deeper the impact.
“I’m not sure of my identity.” “I don’t know who I am.” These are the honest testimonies I’ve heard from scores of people who were experiencing uniquely challenging changes in their professional and personal lives, such as job loss and divorce. It makes sense. Our individual identities are closely tied to our income, job title, how many people report to us, and our intimate relationships are even more defining. When those attributes change, our sense of identity can seem rocked; jolted.
Therefore, the first step to overcoming change exhaustion – for businesses and individuals – is to regain and reclaim your identity. This takes a lot of hard work, but it’s essential and it pays off.
Virtually every successful business case study I’ve been party to started with revitalizing the brand and manifesting it through all aspects of employee engagement and customer engagement. The same is true for every individual I’ve had the privilege of consulting or mentoring; those who did the work of intentionally focusing on who they are – their defining personal and professional qualities – saw it as foundational to their successfully navigating change and becoming more productive, better communicators and achieving their goals.
For your business, begin the process of refreshing the brand or starting from scratch by asking, “What is this business?” If you have the opportunity, pose the question to a handful of your associates and see how many of them serve up the same answer. (If you hear a lot of different answers, that’s your confirmation that this work is both necessary and that it will pay off.)
Here’s what to strive for: create a positioning so that your brand is…
Credible | It needs to be credible to all audiences inside and outside the organization. When a brand is valid, it will effectively support the foundation of trust with the people who mean the most to you.
Relevant | A brand has to be applicable to each target audience’s need or desire.
Differentiating | The distinctive quality you pinpoint will separate your brand from the competition.
All three are essential for a successful, comprehensive brand positioning.
For yourself, you can apply the same characteristics as above, especially for your professional brand. Also, make a list of your answers to these questions, regarding your professional and/or personal attributes:
What about you is good?
What about you is true?
What about you is unchanging?
Your brand – like your personal identity – reflects the essence and value of where you’ve been, who you are and where you’re going.
BE YOUR BEST
Your answers to these questions is the first foundational step to taking a significant negative effect of change exhaustion and turning it into a positive force.
Let the answers raise new questions regarding how and what you are communicating as a business and as a professional. Let them reflect in the way you work, relate to others, serve and lead.
This work prepares you for solid, sound, strategic planning which will lead you to triumph over change exhaustion.
“To be prepared is half the victory.”
– Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, poet and playwright.
Remember, the people who plan to be their best as they navigate change are going to be the most successful.
My best to you,