Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’ The phrase means literally that the more things change, the more it’s the same thing. I don’t know if that is actually true. Change can hit in a number of different ways. Sometimes those ways are good. They mean progress, improvement, innovation, and avoidance of stagnation. However, sometimes those changes don’t feel so good. They feel uncertain, destabilizing, and confusing. The unknown and the new are sometimes scary. While JB expressed his experience as nothing ever being truly new, and that eventually it all amounts to the same thing, I think the sentiment and underlying meaning is that change is more a part of constancy that is just life. The one thing that seems omnipresent in the world is change, every day something new or different. Sometimes things move so fast, it’s hard to keep up.
Why am I talking about change? Well, it is a new year. It is a time when a good number of people consider changes in their own lives. It is a time to consider the things that may have become stagnant or even unhealthy that could use a refresh, a new habit, improvement to what we choose to do and how we live our lives… But that’s not the only reason that I’m thinking and writing about change. Not really.
In the past few years, I have, myself, experienced a lot of changes. I have watched people I care about face other changes. Not all of them were good. In fact, many of them were distinctly unpleasant. There were significant losses. There were obstacles and health issues and heartbreaks. I have watched those I love battle crippling despair and agonizing decisions. It hurts.
But there have been other changes as well. There have been changes born of growth. There have been graduations, weddings, births, new opportunities, and new relationships. There have been moves and new places. There have been new ideas and plans.
I’m distracting myself again. I do that. The reason this particular post is in TNC is because I want to talk about change in the workplace. You had to know that it was eventually going to wind around to job, right? In the past year, my team has dealt with drastic and overwhelming changes. There have been team reorganizations, a complete program change, manager changes, and then a documentation platform change… and that was within less than six months! And they rolled with it. They handled it better than any team with whom I’ve previously worked. I could not be prouder to be a part of them.
And now… in the new year, they were hit with change again. Another reorganization resulted in almost my entire team shifting to a different manager and another group being assigned to me. I’ll be honest, it hit me pretty hard. I am a bit of a “mama bear” when it comes to my direct reports, and I mourned that loss, hard. It helped that the manager to whom they were given is one of the best people and best leaders I know, but it still shook me up. I can only imagine what my new team is experiencing, but I suspect that there may be a good deal of anxiety and trepidation as we all have to learn about each other and develop these new relationships after years of understanding the in’s and out’s of a different leader and leadership style. I know it came as a shock for most. Maybe some are excited about the change, but I expect a lot more are worried about how the “new boss” will be.
It took me quite a while to shift my own mood and thoughts and acceptance. But I know that we are all still working for the same team and the same people and serving the same deserving population that are given into our charge each day. Who knows, now that I’m not “boss lady” to some of my former direct reports, there may be friendships and colleague relationships to further nourish and bloom in a different way.
Change is hard. Sometimes it feels bad initially, but hopefully it can push us, motivate us, and help us keep moving in a positive direction to be better and grow more. I think it is really about perspective. Acknowledge the discomfort, but don’t get stuck in it. Look for the opportunity and let the change move rather than control. So, with that, I’m going to go back to our friend JB for another quote that I like better…
“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.’