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Acceptance of business change

It might be hard, but acceptance of business change is key to progress.



Image of vintage map illustrating the Fairisle article Acceptance of change
Sarah Willcox business change consultant

Sarah Willcox is the Founder of Fairisle Consulting

A while ago, enthusing about my work, I was brought up short by someone who said “Not all change is good”.  And it got me thinking about how companies have responded during the Covid crisis. Some changes in direction, strategy or working practices that are inevitable will not always be immediately beneficial to all members of the team.

Supporting our teams

At times like this, the goal is to find ways of supporting our teams as they go through these kinds of changes. The problem is often around resistance and the difficulty in moving to acceptance. When the change before you is negative or works against your interests, acceptance can feel like giving up. Or worse, can be perceived as weakness.

Accepting reality

The thing is, all the time you are not accepting something, you will not make progress. It’s like trying to get from one side of a mountain range to the other without accepting the reality of the 3 big lakes in your way. Unless you come to terms with the fact that you will need to get round them or sail across them, you are not going to get very far.

Nancy Kline writes in Time to Think:

“This is denial. It is the antithesis of reality. It is dangerous because thinking works best in the presence of reality. Part of reality is correct information about what is real, even if what is real is very painful or disappointing or threatening. Your mind does have the capacity to handle anything. But it can’t do it if you present it with lies.”

It’s really hard to be creative about solutions and make progress if you and your team are not working from a place of reality. So if you can move to a place of acceptance of business change, then everyone will be better off.

Image of two similar but differently coloured hats illustrating the Fairisle article How to disagree brilliantly


How to disagree brilliantly


A real challenge

What I’m suggesting here may be a real challenge, the only way to make any kind of positive progress in change is to accept the reality of your circumstances. If you can, try to reframe acceptance as the starting point for getting things done. Acceptance need not be the end of something. It can be the first step in making meaningful change.

That’s easier said than done, of course, so what might help in moving toward acceptance?

Steps to acceptance of business change

  • First, take a break from thinking about whatever it is you’re finding difficult to accept. Instead, spend some time thinking about what acceptance means. Get comfortable with the idea of acceptance as an important first step in making a change, rather than as giving up.
  • The chances are if you’ve been resisting the situation you’re in, you won’t know much about it. So, having re-framed how you think about acceptance, take another look at where you are right now. What is the correct information about this problem? How did you get here? What are the reasons for this change? Is it something others might be experiencing too? Is there some useful, impartial, data that can give you more insight about the problem?
  • If doing that gives you a fit of the heebie jeebies, remember: “your mind does have the capacity to handle anything”. Acceptance is not about giving up. It’s about making progress.

Image of tangled hedge illustrating the Fairisle article Dealing with business problems


Dealing with business problems


Opportunities for change

Now that you know a bit more about where you are, and you are more familiar with the reality of the situation, see what opportunities there are for change. Remember you always have a choice: to do something or to not do something. To embrace the change or walk away from it.

Finally, you can plan what to do next. With your team. Creatively. From a place of reality. What will you do now, what will you do next, what will you do later?

Can we help?

Is there a change you’ve been putting off because you haven’t come to terms with the situation you’re in?  You might be surprised how much a short call with one of our consultants can help, so go ahead and book your free consultation.

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