Change can happen in the blink of an eye.
And in today’s landscape of talent management, that’s exactly how change tends to take place: unexpectedly, with little to no notice. Oftentimes, business leaders must react quickly and go beyond just keeping up; they must guide their people through the ups and downs, no matter what might happen along the way.
Sometimes, change might not immediately make sense if employees don’t understand why they’re being asked to shift gears or do away with trusted, reliable best practices. Perhaps the old way seemed to work just fine, and be backed by plenty of rhyme and reason.
Mental agility and mental toughness are the best tools to have in your boat as your workforce rides out the waves even when the disturbances seem unbearable.
New, complicated technology and machine learning.
New, unfamiliar senior leadership.
Confusing workplace design or work conditions.
New policies that just don’t make sense.
Old ideas become obsolete.
Transformed job types and responsibilities.
Diversity and globalization.
The possibilities are endless … and those that lie in the far future remain unknown.
How should top management handle the highs, but also the extreme lows that unexpected change often brings about?
The first move leaders need to make is to keep their team strong and resilient, according to Dr. Andrew Wittman, CEO of the Mental Toughness Training Center. Wittman is a U.S. Marine Corps infantry combat veteran, a former police officer and federal agent, and Special Agent for the U.S. Capitol Police. He also worked as a security contractor for the State Department and taught high-threat diplomatic security to former Navy SEALS, Marines, Rangers and Special Forces.
When the stakes are the highest and change doesn’t sit well, that’s the best opportunity for leaders to exercise and practice mental agility, according to Wittman.
“A leader is just that: a leader, and should lead by example,” Wittman said. “Leaders must demonstrate and participate [in a company’s change initiatives] for there to be true support.”
It’s about showing how to create success in the midst of madness instead of telling others to do so. If leaders openly utilize the resources made available to facilitate change and keep up with work demands, employees will see the evidence that anything is possible.
Change inevitably impacts employee engagement and performance, and in reality, there will always be the expectation for employees to operate effectively even when a lot seems different, even confusing. That’s when empathy and compassion come into play.
“The simplest way for a leader to have empathy for the adaptation process is to actively participate and be transparent about their own emotions,” Wittman said. “This may seem counterintuitive by thinking you are showing weakness, but it has the opposite effect on team members. The leader’s credibility will actually increase, as will respect and loyalty, as team members will sense everyone is in it together.”
Wittman guides others through five practices to help with mental toughness and mental agility, even during the most volatile circumstances:
- List everything for which you are grateful.
- Refuse to see anything as unbearable. It may be difficult, demanding and hard, but never unbearable.
- Maintain a trusted inner circle to love you enough to tell you when you are going off track.
- View life from the 50,000-feet level and give yourself some emotional distance.
- You and you alone choose and control your attitude.
Change can be difficult for everyone involved. Expert knowledge can help during times of uncertainty. Wittman is set to be HCI’s featured presenter for an Oct. 16 webcast. He’ll provide expert advice on thriving through change using mental agility and a new, stronger state of mind. Register online.