Dealing with Disappointing Change in your Not for Profit

Jul 25, 2017

That BIG change in your sector is finally here.

You know the one I’m talking about.  The one that you’ve been preparing for all this time, the one that you have strategized over, worried about, nurtured your team through, supported those you serve to be as “ready” as possible for.

And despite your occasional hesitancy, lack of trust in the agenda of higher authorities, and the experiences of those that have gone before you –  you have managed –  through it all –  to commit to the change, maintain your  high hopes and positivity that it will actually BE  better, help more, and deliver on it’s promises to those you serve through your organisation.

It’s here.  And it’s here over a month earlier than when it was set to arrive, without notice or warning – BAM.

“Never mind”, you tell yourself “just got to move things forward and move faster”.

Then,  things start to unravel. Those you serve are worse off, stressed out, confused, overwhelmed and TIRED.  And they are turning to you, your organisation, for guideance, help, support and answers.

It becomes apparent that this change, that you have no control of, full of high hopes and promises, is rolling out at such speed, haste and disregard to those it seeks to assist that it can only be described as messy, chaotic, poorly implemented and lacking.

You feel out of control, unable to solve the issues experienced by those you serve, incredibly disappointed in the system, flat and overwhelmed with the gravity of the spiralling, dominoe effect.

And you know that you can’t sit in this space, these feelings, for too long. You know that you have a team to lead, and the lives of those you serve to nurture.  They are looking to you, their leader, to navigate this mess – with confidence and competence.

So what do you do? How do you take action? Where do you start? How do you gain control and move forward?

The only place to start is with yourself.

How? What am I suppose to do?

Some changes, especially those that are imposed and implemented on us,  are hard. Change  doesn’t always turn out as we had hoped or expected, and disappointment, anger and resistance can take hold of you. Some change is not for the better, or at least it doesn’t appear to be or feel that way at the time.

ALL change is hard at first, and very messy in the middle.

The key to managing and responding to the mess, disappointment and anger is in how we choose to respond.  Resistance to change is futile.

So what can I do instead?

When I’m faced with this type of change, and I’m feeling out of control,  it helps me immensely if I get still.

Stop the frantic `do-do-do, go-go-go’ that change can demand, and just take 20 minutes to be still, get  calm, and focus.

I focus on answering these three questions:

Right now at this point in time, what can I :

  • Surrender?

  • Control?

  • Influence?

What do I surrender in change?

Surrender may sound like “giving up”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Surrender is the acceptance of what is.  It takes you out of a space of resistance, fight or flight to being present in the reality of what is.  Being present in the reality enables you to assess the situation, and choose actions to get into flow.

The first thing to do is to surrender to the change – the new system, the new “way”, the chaos, and the mess.  It is what it is.  I have to work with it. I have to find a way to get into and/or create flow with this change?

What is flow? Flow is the path of least resistance, for myself and those around me. I know that when I am in flow, I am on purpose, and aligned to my core values, beliefs, passions and talents.  It is where I have the greatest impact. I am actively seeking flow for myself, those around me, and my organisation.

Similarly, my organisation is in flow when it is on purpose, and doing those things that are aligned to it’s values and mission.

But how do you get there in times of great change that doesn’t feel “good” or “right” or “just”?

Going with the flow is not about enabling and allowing injustice or lack of integrity that may exist with certain change.

It is about removing the resistance to the change and identifying the vision of your organisation based on its purpose, values and mission and CREATING that.  It’s about focussing your energy on building the new, rather than fighting for the old.

What can I control in change?

 There really is only one definitive answer to this question.  ME.  The only thing that I can control is me.

I can control my thoughts. How I choose to think about this situation. The story that I’m telling myself about this situation. The actions that I choose to take, and my behaviour.

I choose the energy that I bring to this situation.

The question of myself then becomes: “So what do I choose? What thoughts, stories, actions and energies do I choose?”.

How I answer this question will directly impact the next question.

What can I influence in change?

 In times of great change that has been thrust upon us we can often feel as though we have no affect. But in reality we do. How we choose to step up and show up has an influence on those around us, and therefore the situations in which we are facing.

The answer to this question is in the actions we take.  I can influence;

  • How things happen/occur through processes, policy and procedure
  • Team morale through leadership, connection, and collaboration
  • Others experiences through support, information, awareness, education, advocacy….and so on.
  • The opportunities that we attract as a result of the change
  • What we create
  • What I choose to have influence over

There really is no end to the influence I can have once I have clarity on how I choose to show up.  Influence through action.

The million dollar question now becomes: “What action do I now need to take to have a positive influence?”.

Your goal is to list the actions , and then to TAKE ACTION.

Managing and responding to a highly anticipated significant change that, on arrival, leaves you feeling disappointed, disillusioned, angry and overwhelmed with what now needs to be done can be deflating to us NFP leaders. But it needn’t be the “straw that broke the camels back”.

We have the ability, and perhaps even the response-ability, to move through our emotions quickly and reframe the story we have been telling ourselves by getting still and connecting with our organisational purpose.  It is then that we can identify what we can do, set our intentions and then take clear action that aligns to our organisational values.

If you would like support to get into flow and create impactful change in your community,  then I invite you to contact me, subscribe to my newsletter, or like my facebook page to stay connected.

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