Stepping into a new Identity

by | Mar 30, 2019 | Change, Identity |

“That is not how we do things around here”

“I’m not sure what my role is anymore”

“My job seems to change every three months”

Bringing ideas to life and changing the way organisations function can be messy, it’s not a smooth, straight path to happiness. When thinking about whatever change project we engage with, we need to consider people, especially the behaviours we wish to see and how the change impacts their identity. We also need to consider the new skills required – I talked about that here.

How we behave shapes our culture, which, over time, normalising behaviours making them challenging to change. How we behave is also intimately linked to how we view ourselves and how we feel about ourselves, especially in relation to others.

So much of change is related to how people feel and often their fear. How does the change affect their job? How does it affect their identity – the story they tell themselves about who they are and the contribution they make.

Often when I speak about digital change, digital literacy, responsible data, I encounter people who either spiral into shame or last out in anger. We spiral into shame because as we discuss change we realise we need to do things differently and wonder if we are adequate, good enough, etc. Or we realise we have been behaving in ways that have caused harm, unintended, but still harm or potential harm, so we beat ourselves up and heap shame upon ourselves. Or fear takes over and the change (and person proposing it) is attacked because it is seen as threat to who the person is.

As change makers we need to expect a reaction and expect the change will raise questions about their own identity. We also need to invite them into a new identity or a new way of talking about themselves; leaving it void is a sure way to stoke fear.

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