Change is Inevitable; your response is what’s important

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sonya Collins
  • 22nd Force Support Squadron commander
What is it about change that irritates people down to their very toes? The academic world will tell you that change challenges our individual perception of status quo. It evokes a fear that what we are used to will be eliminated and replaced with uncertainty and doubt. So far, I agree with that assessment.

But why is it we seem to take change in our personal lives easier than in our professional lives? I believe it is because we feel we have control over the change in our personal lives and but we don't feel that way when it comes to professional change. Let's compare personal and professional change...Personal change is created from within our circle of comfort while professional change is typically downward directed.

The reasons for personal change are clear to us while the reasons for professional change are sometimes lost in translation or not even received by the lowest level. We create personal change, therefore we already have a positive attitude but we don't necessarily want professional change because we are happy with the status quo.

When we make personal change we have energy and motivation because we know we will benefit from it, but with professional change we aren't sure of what the outcome will be so we are very hesitant.

With personal change, we are open-minded to hiccups and having to implement alternative actions to get the task done.

With professional change, if we don't understand it, we can't embrace and if we can't embrace it, we can't think past the frustration.

So what's the answer? Leaders and followers both have an active role in the solution. Leaders must involve people in the change process and make sure that everyone, all the way down to the airman basic, fully understands the reason for change.

Leaders must create enthusiasm for the change and facilitate the change itself.

Followers on the other hand need to be adaptable and flexible. They need to be able to adapt to change without being paralyzed by the stress of not knowing all the answers. They need to set the example for those around them and encourage buy-in to the change because it will be good for the Air Force and the mission.

The bottom line is change is always occurring, whether we are prepared for it or not. However, with equal effort on the part of the leader and follower, change can be an exciting and challenging experience.