Emotional Cost of Change
June 28, 2017
Have You Considered the Emotional Cost of Change?
By guest blogger Dr. Carrie McCrudden
Are you making changes around your workplace? I bet you have calculated the financial cost of these changes, and probably even figured out who will oversee the modifications. Maybe you even figured out a time estimate of how much of your schedule will be devoted to implementing the change. What I am betting you have overlooked is the emotional cost of the change.
Humans, as a species, tend to like homeostasis. We are actually physically and mentally designed to maintain internal balance and equilibrium. Translation? We like stuff to be familiar and not too far off from our usual operating style. Things that are different from our expected equilibrium tend to throw us off. Change, by definition, involves difference.
We tend to account for the “cost” of change when we are doing something tangible. For example, when a new record-keeping system is implemented, typically it means training personnel, practicing on the new system before it launches and then receiving additional support from the vendor on making the change. The overlooked item, however, is the emotional impact on the team.
The new system means change, and change means difference, which inherently means the balance is off for your staff. This is why even the slickest, nicest new systems get complaints and resistance to use. Accounting for the emotional imbalance of the new system means giving people some room to miss the old system while embracing the new one.
One of the most glaring places we forget to account for the emotional cost or savings of something is in hiring, staff retention and, in some cases, the importance of letting go of a toxic staff person. A fantastic team makes all the difference in an excellent organization and accounting for the emotional side of your staff is crucial for your success as an organization.
When making staff changes, it is important to take the emotional “temperature” of each person. Is there someone who is consistently bringing everyone down? Someone on staff who isn’t trusted to do his or her job well? The person who is always late and gets away with it? Holding these people accountable or, if they are unable to improve their performance, letting them go, will likely create a net positive effect on your team’s emotional well-being. This is an emotional savings!
Conversely, bringing on new staff can change the balance of your team in either a positive or a negative direction (cost or savings). Make sure you are examining the emotional cost or benefit to bringing in someone new, changing someone’s position or significantly changing job responsibilities for your team members.
Change is constantly occurring and can be necessary and important. It can be a positive change in the emotional realm if you are remembering to account for that cost.
Carrie McCrudden, PsyD
Colorado Therapy Care, PC
Dr. Carrie is a Psychologist, licensed in Colorado, with over 20 years of experience helping people and organizations improve functioning, eliminate bad habits and enjoy life more. She uses the best in brain science and psychological research, since we all have an easier time with change when we are working with our natural brain functioning. Dr. Carrie has a long standing private practice, Colorado Therapy Care, PC which focuses on treating anxiety and trauma. When she is not busy doing individual therapy, Dr. Carrie enjoys speaking and training groups and companies about how to use brain science to thrive, both personally and professionally.