Anxiety – success factor or barrier to change?

Anxiety – success factor or barrier to change?

In today’s very fast-moving and dynamic market environment, organizations are increasingly confronted with the need to change. They can only secure their long-term competitiveness through innovation, transformation and adaptation.

However, some change projects that are absolutely necessary from an employer’s perspective, such as relocations, reorganizations or the introduction of new systems. Those projects have a fundamental impact on employees, as they often times mean a change in their work routines. Change requires adaptability, willingness for continuous development and openness to new ideas. These circumstances can cause uncertainty and trigger anxiety among those affected.

In the western world, there is a paradox in dealing with anxiety. Collective anxieties, such as anxiety about environmental problems or economic crises, are reinforced by the media, while individual anxieties are taboo. Individual anxieties are not discussed, especially in a professional context, as they are considered a weakness. This taboo can have fatal consequences for a change project.

THE NATURE OF ANXIETY - ORIGINS AND EFFECTS

Anxiety arises from the subjective evaluation of a situation and not from the situation itself. Major changes in both  professional and private environment are often perceived as threatening and, at times, unmanageable for those affected, causing anxiety.

Thus, anxiety is an emotional reaction to a situation that is perceived as threatening and plays a crucial role in the human survival mechanism. This reaction, also known as “state anxiety”, enables individuals to cope with dangerous situations (fight or flight response). Although perceived as unpleasant, fear is an essential part of life in this context and serves to protect and ensure survival.

The biological reactions to fear include both mental and physical activations. A racing heart, nausea, shortness of breath, increased sweating, insomnia or trembling are just a few examples of the many physical expressions that can accompany intense anxiety.

ANXIETY AND CHANGE

Anxiety has an influence on change projects. It all depends on the dose, as it is known to “make the poison”. If the employee experiences a slight uncertainty or unease( micro anxiety), it can even have a positive effect on the willingness to change. Through inner activation and movement, those affected are prepared to leave the familiar behind. However, great anxiety(macro anxiety) causes an inability to act, which reduces performance and also the willingness to change.

If the uncertainty and possible fears of employees during a change initiative are not recognized or taken seriously, they can evolve into macro anxiety, which massively jeopardizes the success of a change project. Reactions of defiance, sabotage, repression, passivity, and demotivation are just a small selection of the possible reactions of those affected.

FROM THREAT TO OPPORTUNITY

This poses the question, what can organizations do to ensure that those affected consider change not as an insurmountable threat, but as an opportunity?

The key to minimizing anxiety lies in early, comprehensible, credible and continuous communication that takes into account the individuality of those affected. At the same time, trust, understanding and appreciation on the part of managers and the involvement of those affected help to minimize fears.

Team cohesion (spirit) is another aspect that should not be underestimated during changes. A strong team gives those affected a feeling of solidarity and the certainty that they are not alone with their worries and concerns. Sharing similar experiences with colleagues helps to put fears into perspective and create a feeling of cohesion and confidence. Regular team discussions and team building initiatives, thus are crucial throughout a change processes.

P3 CHANGE-TEAM

As the P3 change team, we accompany our clients throughout their change projects and processes. We see the big picture and create a framework where employees see change as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable threat. We organize transformations with passion, an eye for detail and individual, harmoniously coordinated measures. Change takes time, courage and a customized tailored approach.

Autoren

Lina Franke

Merle Tegeler

Isabelle Trautmann

Maria Franke

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Simon Jung

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Latest Updates

Anxiety – success factor or barrier to change?

Anxiety – success factor or barrier to change?

In today’s very fast-moving and dynamic market environment, organizations are increasingly confronted with the need to change. They can only secure their long-term competitiveness through innovation, transformation and adaptation.

However, some change projects that are absolutely necessary from an employer’s perspective, such as relocations, reorganizations or the introduction of new systems. Those projects have a fundamental impact on employees, as they often times mean a change in their work routines. Change requires adaptability, willingness for continuous development and openness to new ideas. These circumstances can cause uncertainty and trigger anxiety among those affected.

In the western world, there is a paradox in dealing with anxiety. Collective anxieties, such as anxiety about environmental problems or economic crises, are reinforced by the media, while individual anxieties are taboo. Individual anxieties are not discussed, especially in a professional context, as they are considered a weakness. This taboo can have fatal consequences for a change project.

THE NATURE OF ANXIETY - ORIGINS AND EFFECTS

Anxiety arises from the subjective evaluation of a situation and not from the situation itself. Major changes in both  professional and private environment are often perceived as threatening and, at times, unmanageable for those affected, causing anxiety.

Thus, anxiety is an emotional reaction to a situation that is perceived as threatening and plays a crucial role in the human survival mechanism. This reaction, also known as “state anxiety”, enables individuals to cope with dangerous situations (fight or flight response). Although perceived as unpleasant, fear is an essential part of life in this context and serves to protect and ensure survival.

The biological reactions to fear include both mental and physical activations. A racing heart, nausea, shortness of breath, increased sweating, insomnia or trembling are just a few examples of the many physical expressions that can accompany intense anxiety.

ANXIETY AND CHANGE

Anxiety has an influence on change projects. It all depends on the dose, as it is known to “make the poison”. If the employee experiences a slight uncertainty or unease( micro anxiety), it can even have a positive effect on the willingness to change. Through inner activation and movement, those affected are prepared to leave the familiar behind. However, great anxiety(macro anxiety) causes an inability to act, which reduces performance and also the willingness to change.

If the uncertainty and possible fears of employees during a change initiative are not recognized or taken seriously, they can evolve into macro anxiety, which massively jeopardizes the success of a change project. Reactions of defiance, sabotage, repression, passivity, and demotivation are just a small selection of the possible reactions of those affected.

FROM THREAT TO OPPORTUNITY

This poses the question, what can organizations do to ensure that those affected consider change not as an insurmountable threat, but as an opportunity?

The key to minimizing anxiety lies in early, comprehensible, credible and continuous communication that takes into account the individuality of those affected. At the same time, trust, understanding and appreciation on the part of managers and the involvement of those affected help to minimize fears.

Team cohesion (spirit) is another aspect that should not be underestimated during changes. A strong team gives those affected a feeling of solidarity and the certainty that they are not alone with their worries and concerns. Sharing similar experiences with colleagues helps to put fears into perspective and create a feeling of cohesion and confidence. Regular team discussions and team building initiatives, thus are crucial throughout a change processes.

P3 CHANGE-TEAM

As the P3 change team, we accompany our clients throughout their change projects and processes. We see the big picture and create a framework where employees see change as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable threat. We organize transformations with passion, an eye for detail and individual, harmoniously coordinated measures. Change takes time, courage and a customized tailored approach.

Autoren

Lina Franke

Merle Tegeler

Isabelle Trautmann

Maria Franke

Simon Jung

TAGS

SHARE ARTICLE

Latest Updates

Anxiety – success factor or barrier to change?