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6 strategies for managing personal and practice change

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Lane Juarez, Senior Consultant - Internal Practice Development at Waddell & Reed

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.” If that’s the case, why is change so stressful? For many, it’s not change itself that is stressful but the uncertainty that comes with it. It’s the what if’s, the what does this mean, and the what will I do’s that drive peoples’ responses to change. But contrary to the unfavorable responses to change that human nature often dictates, we also know that change can be powerful and positive for your practice. It can be a passport to new business, a better client experience, or a more efficiently run business. Living with change could even, dare we say, enhance your attitude about change.

The following strategies can help influence a positive, initial response to change.

  1. Control
  2. We all want to be in control of our lives, but when change is thrust upon us, along comes uncertainty and the feeling of losing control. This is precisely the moment to ask, “Do I have any control over what’s changing?” Often the answer is no. What you do have control over is your response to it. Instead of panicking, try centering yourself – breathe, take a walk, meditate, go to the gym. This more controlled, initial response can set a calm tone for your next steps.

  1. Connect
  2. While a major change may leave you feeling alone, that’s not generally the case. Friends, colleagues, community acquaintances either are or have been in your shoes and probably have advice they’re willing to share. Connect with them to discuss your concerns, gain insight, or explore a different perspective. Don’t wait for them to ask how you feel, instead be the one to reach out to start the conversation. You may find that you are able to give as much as you gain.

  1. Explore
  2. Rather than denying or resisting change, try keeping an open mind and exploring what the change really means to you. Does it close opportunities or open new ones? Does it change the way you feel about yourself or the work you do? All things considered, could you be happy once the change has taken place? These can be tough questions to answer, especially when change is new and you don’t have all the information. Give yourself a little grace while you wait on information and explore the possibilities that it presents.

    Once you’ve come to terms with change and are ready to move forward, these next strategies can be helpful in your journey. It’s important to know there is no specific timeline tied to these activities; you may even find that they overlap as you work through change.

  1. Prepare
  2. Analyze how this change will truly impact you, your practice, and your clients, then prepare accordingly. Do you want the change to be minimally disruptive or do you want to use it as a catalyst to launch into new growth opportunities? Are there new standards, processes, or technology to learn and integrate in order to support this change? Do you need to communicate with your clients to inform them about this change and what it means to them?

  1. Implement
  2. Change sometimes is a big-bang event. Other times it’s an evolution, which requires implementation to happen in a staggered approach. To ensure a successful implementation, stay abreast of important briefings, work with your home office and advisor advocates to identify key dates, and determine if integral early steps are needed to support longer term implementation goals.

  1. Reinforce
  2. An often-overlooked step in implementing change is reinforcing it. Ignore this step, and change may not be fully adopted or performance may suffer. Instead, continually review, revise, and improve upon your change. Analyze how effective it has been and identify roadblocks to address or successes to celebrate. Are you moving along as expected or do you need to revise and adjust to hit future milestones? Most importantly, continue to communicate openly within your practice and client base.

In the end remember that change doesn’t define you. How you respond to it does. You and your practice are dynamic and can adapt to any change by taking a controlled, measured approach to it.

Change is constant

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