3 Reasons to Combine Mindfulness and Change Management

BL00 - How to Help Employees Through Difficult Change at Work

By Wendy Quan, guest contributor

In the corporate world, many of us struggle with the relentless changes that happen at work that often disrupt our lives and increase our stress.

The responsibility of helping people through change, or ‘change management,’ tends to fall upon leaders, change managers, project managers or human resources. However, generally whatever little time there is to perform change management is usually spent delivering communications and maybe the occasional employee survey. While helpful, these practices don’t get to the heart of what makes change successful – the individual employee’s desire and actions.

In my work with a wide range of large organizations and companies, I teach meditators to become skilled mindfulness facilitators in their workplace. I also combine change management techniques with mindfulness to help people through difficult change. As a certified organizational change manager and mindfulness facilitator instructor, I see the pains that organizations go through and how attention to the individual can make a world of difference to their change journey.

Never Enough Time for Individuals

If you have taken any change management training, you likely have heard that “change happens one individual at a time.” The reality is that little attention is spent with individuals to see how they are feeling and what concerns they have, and even less on coaching them on how their behaviors affect the outcome of the change.  It’s not surprising because this obviously takes a great deal of time and skill to do this well. There is a great deal of pressure on leaders to lead their staff through change, and they themselves are not often well-supported. Corporate change communications and employee surveys are great, but just scratch the surface.

Why Combine Change Management with Mindfulness?

Practicing mindfulness at work has many benefits including reducing stress and conflict, increasing focus and creativity, and enhancing decision-making skills.

Change management helps move the organization and employees from a current state to a future state, so the expected benefits can hopefully be realized. Yet the individual is often overlooked. After all, if you don’t get people onside or at least able to move forward, your change is likely to fail and be riddled with problems and resistance.

Why is the Combination of Mindfulness Practices and Change Management Techniques so Powerful?

  1. It guides an individual through their change journey in a conscious and private way. Being skillfully guided through the stages of an individual’s change journey opens the eyes of the listener in the privacy and safety of their own mind. Most people are not eager to openly discuss their reasons for being upset or indifferent about a change but they are usually curious to explore their world in private, alone.

  2. It increases an individual’s self-awareness of their emotions, reactions, and behaviors.  Busy people tend to live in survival and auto-pilot mode, not taking quiet moments to self-reflect on how they are experiencing difficult change in their lives. Often they are anxious, frustrated, and bitter. They don’t realize how their emotions, reactions, and behaviors are affecting their own experience and even how others perceive them at work. Most “resisters” would not consider themselves a resister.

  3. It can help an individual decide how they would rather react to the change. There is great personal power in realizing that you have control over your own reactions. How am I reacting? Is this the way I want to be? Do I have any influence over the change? What experience would I rather have?

What Does a Change Management Meditation Do?

A change management meditation contains a number of techniques. Here are a few:  It gently, yet powerfully, guides the listener through consciously raising their self-awareness of their reactions, emotions, and behaviors pertaining to their chosen difficult change. Then, it guides them by identifying how they would rather react to the change and sets positive intentions. It also explains that although we don’t always have control over a change, we always have control over how we choose to react to a change, so choose your reaction.  It invites them to reframe negative views to positive views, and asks them to identify what they will learn from this change. All these techniques are very empowering.

The Next Step

Now that mindfulness is a popular and growing practice, especially in the workplace, it’s a small stretch to add change management techniques into the practice.

If you want to truly help people through change at work but don’t have the resources to spend at the individual level, consider combining change management techniques with mindfulness practices.  Done authentically, your employees can find great relief from constant change and actually create a better experience in their challenging world of work.

Wendy Quan, founder of The Calm Monkey (https://www.thecalmmonkey.com), is an industry leader, training and certifying mindfulness meditation facilitators in the workplace and combining change management techniques with mindfulness to create personal and organizational change resiliency. Wendy has an extensive corporate background in Human Resources, IT, change management and mindfulness. She is a thought leader speaking at conferences and summits worldwide. 


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