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Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Change? Focus on Talents to Survive the Changing Workplace

Jay Forte

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Ninety-nine percent of what we do, we do in patterns. That means that our brain loves when things stay the same. . .because we have already figured out how to respond and we feel safe and sure that we have the answer. It is efficient. And we like the patterns even when the patterns need changing for our health or success (overeating, too much drinking, going to bed too late, poor follow up with customers, poorly motivating employees. . . the list goes on). What are we afraid of in change. . . even when we know the change that we need to make is for the good. . . personally or professionally?

The answer is easy to understand - it is better to deal with what you know than what you don't know. . . even if it is not good. So how do we change the thinking that change should not be feared?

My contention is that the way to get rid of the fear of change is to feel confident in the face of change. That means we first have to look at our talents and skills. One of the greatest fears about change is that we think cannot handle something new because we don't know how to perform a task or think in a particular way. Our brains our capable of learning right up until the day we leave the planet. So, we have the ability to understand how to use a PC, order books on-line, treat our employees differently, interact with our customers more effectively, relate more closely to a spouse; we need to choose to try it. But the discussion needs to be a little larger. . .in fact it needs to start with a discussion of the difference between talent and skill.

Scientists and naturalists have documented that in most cases the natural antidote to a natural poison growing in the forest, jungle or field, is found within a certain number of feet of the poison. We look to this wisdom for our solution. . . since the solution for dealing with change is right in us; it just requires a new perspective. Our solution to change is found in us. . . s in Many of reasons why we do not easily accept change is that the change pushes us into an area where we many not have the talent.

Talent, as defined in by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton in “First, Break All the Rules" means a recurring patters of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can be constructively applied - or having the natural interest and ability in a particular area. I may have a talent in solving problems because I am analytical and not much talent in interacting with customers (because I am not good with social contacts or conversation). And when put into that situation, I know I am not that good and therefore I start to avoid it.

Now, true, there is no way to change what you have talents for. . . they arrive with our genetic code. Either you are interested and therefore good at socializing with others or not. . . and education can't really make you significantly better at it; education and training can show you the mechanical skills of socializing, but your ability to use them is directly related to your attitude about them. . . if you don't like it, you won't be that good at it. And that is fine. . . not everyone has talents in everything. The way to welcome change in an area that is not your talent generally requires you to find a complementary partner and create a support system. Let me tell you what I mean.

In your department, you may have the responsibility of creating high content and highly professional presentations. Researching and analyzing content may be your talent. . . you write clearly and effectively and can easily convey important information in language that any audience can understand. But you have minimal skills in making a visually stimulating presentation. Another employee in your department is a wiz with Adobe PhotoShop or PowerPoint and thereby completes the same visually dynamic presentation that you created intellectually. Both are functioning effectively within their talents. So the tasks are reallocated in the department to take advantage of talents. In other words, to “turn talent into performance, you have to position and pay your people for what they are wired to do. " Collectively, the team can handle a far greater number of things and accommodate change more easily when they are aware of their talents and allocate tasks based on these talents. So change does not need to be a fearful event; eliminating the fear of change is the first step to embracing it and using it to be the best.

Talents are different than skills. . . skill are the mechanical steps that we all can learn. We can train any skill. . . but the effectiveness of the skill happens when the skill is matched to talent. No talent, no interest. No interest, poor performance.

So the first step to embracing change is to be aware of the talents that your team brings. . . and it may require some reallocation (recasting) of responsibilities to max out on the talents. This creates an environment where employees are far more confident and therefore fear less. . . then change can be welcomed instead of avoided.

Jay Forte is a powerful performance speaker, consultant, author and founder of Humanetrics, LLC. He works with managers who want to be more successful in activating and inspiring exceptional employee performance, to significantly drive customer loyalty and improve company profitability. Jay, a CPA/financial executive turned educator, turned consultant, is renowned for producing significant results. He is a highly engaging speaker and is working on an upcoming book “Fire Up Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition; How to Invite, Incite and Ignite Performance" For information on keynotes, seminars and consulting, or to see the daily “BLOGucation, " visit: his new site or call: 401-338-3505.


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