AN ESSENTIAL SKILL FOR STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS
Mary Carr, Dean of Curriculum at the Jack Welch Management Institute
In today’s fast-paced world, we’ve all become accustomed to one constant: change. Students entering higher education for the first time, as well as professionals moving into new career paths, often feel added pressure as their environments, schedules, and goals change. Everyone reacts to change differently, but many of us recognize how daunting it can be. However, with the right tools, everyone—from change champions to the most change-adverse—can learn to manage change more effectively and use it as an energizing, motivating force.
Whenever students approach me to have a conversation about change—both during their time at Strayer and as they advance down a career path—I turn to John Kotter’s book “Leading Change.” Kotter is a well-known thought leader in business and change management. The insights in his book are drawn from years of helping both individuals and organizations successfully navigate change. I also look to Jack Welch, founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute here at Strayer, who has overseen transformative change in his own career.
THESE STEPS—INSPIRED BY KOTTER’S WORK AND PAIRED WITH ADVICE DIRECTLY FROM JACK—CAN HELP STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS LEAD CHANGE IN THEIR OWN LIVES AND USE IT AS FUEL FOR SUCCESS:
- CREATE A SENSE OF URGENCY.
Why is this change agent—either your degree program or perhaps a new job—important? Why does it need to happen at this junction in your life? Articulating the need for change, and your aspirations, is an important first step in embracing change.
Jack’s advice: “Every time you talk about changing, you have to put together the rationale for the change.”
- ESTABLISH A VISION AND A STRATEGY. It’s important to have a clear sense of what you want from the change; this is the vision that will help guide you through the journey and stay focused on your goals.
Jack’s advice: “Talk about the vision for change over and over and over again.”
- GUIDE YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK THROUGH THE CHANGE. Chances are, when you take on something new—school or a new job—it’s not just your life that will change; others in your support network will feel it, too. Whether it’s less time with your spouse, more careful planning of family and child activities, or less spontaneous nights out, it’s important to communicate with those around you so they understand what’s changing and why, and they see it as a positive part of your growth.
Jack’s advice: “You have to answer the question: What’s in it for the people who are forced to do something different than they are used to doing?”
- EMPOWER OTHERS TO ACT. You may be asking your support network to help with tasks that you’ve been doing for years, whether that’s chores around the house or driving the kids to soccer practice. Empower those around you by communicating your needs and accepting their help. You can also show them why their support is critical by including them in your new world. For example, you could ask a friend or your spouse to read a paper for a course or help you prep for a job interview.
Jack’s advice: “The change leader’s job is to create advocates for the change at every level of the organization.”
- HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE SHORT-TERM WINS. Some wins are big and immediately recognizable. Some are much smaller, but a win’s a win, and they can serve as powerful motivators on your way to a larger goal. After all, goals are not made of one moment, but rather many micro-moments of success. When you communicate these small wins with others, they can better understand why the change is happening. They start to see the return on investment. Rather than waiting until the end, celebrate these moments together, so everyone can see how their combined commitment to change has made, and will continue to make, a difference.
Jack’s advice: “Every time you have a success and pass a milestone along the way of the change process, stop and celebrate so people can see that it’s worth it.”
FOR MORE ADVICE FROM JACK WELCH VISIT WINNING.JWMI.COM