Ready for a change?
How to embrace change and use it as a growth opportunity. ⚡ #EnLightningAdvice written by Delphine Bernard, Global Head of Finance Operations at Uber.⚡
There are two types of people: those who resist change and are concerned about what might happen to them, and those who embrace it and see it as an opportunity for growth.
Throughout my 20+ year career in fast paced growth environments like Microsoft, Skype and most recently at Uber, adaptability to change has been critical to success. Does it feel uncomfortable? Oh yes! But you know, that discomfort is a true sign of learning. And I have seen a lot of change. From small management changes in team reorganization, new leadership or management, to big impact changes like company acquisitions, scissions, and mergers. Small or big, changes have an impact on you, your team, your company and your work environment.
Often change management, which is the way organizations prepare and support individuals and teams during transitions, is underestimated. In my experience, large organizational shifts usually come from the top down and few companies or leaders think on how much these changes impact its employees emotionally and professionally. Often change management transitions become de facto processes and employees are told they will have to live with it!
When change comes from larger company strategies, mergers, acquisitions, or scission, direct influence and decision making on the part of the employees and managers is minimized. The process is harder, both as a leader and for employees as you have much less power and influence. By comparison, when change comes directly from your own initiatives and strategies, such as team reorganization and strategy shifts, it is easier to manage as you, and your team, have buy-in and are accountable.
In either case, if you initiated the change or your are impacted by it, you can do something about it. You can prepare and be ready!
Anticipate it, look for it and be proactive on where change could come from. See through your team, your management, your product or market, and analyze where you have potential for growth, development and opportunity.
Take the example of a growing company. You know that your team will need to double in size by the following year. You have two options. Wait and see what will happen in the coming year, or build for what your organization needs preemptively. With the second approach, you can look ahead, think strategically and prepare for the future in order to be ahead of the game.
View Change Positively
Change should be part of your DNA.The sooner you accept it, the sooner you will adapt. Take the example of a update on your phone, or laptop! At first you want to scream “Ahhrggh this is so annoying”, yet how long does it take you to forget about it and use the new functionalities? You don’t even remember it or realize it. You adapt! Same goes with corporation changes: new policies, new training, new program, new team, new office or even a new desk. Participate and, even more, enjoy it. Take the positive part of the change, view it as a new challenge.
Nurture Your Team
As a leader, nurture an environment that embraces change.
- First, push yourself and your team to go beyond. Ask your team what their view is on change opportunities.
- Second, practice! There are plenty of great exercises around change management on the Internet. Take the time to try them for yourself with your team. We all have a tendency towards resistance of change, therefore preparing yourself and your team through engaging exercises helps overcome this.
- Third, communicate, communicate, communicate. Transparency is key. The more you can share what’s coming next or a potential area of change, the easier it will be for your team to embrace it when the time comes.
Last year, I instituted a large functional shift for my team. At first, reactions from our team were very skeptical and most of them were concern about their jobs and future work opportunities. However, I felt the change was critical to free up their time and move transactional work out of their hands in order for them to focus on strategy, process ownership and operational improvement. To address this disconnect and get the team on board, I communicated a lot and made sure to explain the why, the benefits for the company, the impact on their job, and the future scope of the new roles.
A year later, the team calls it a huge success. First it allowed the company to scale at a lower cost, and second it granted the team time, and therefore capacity, to problem solve and fix larger more complex issues we had existing for a long time.
Finally, don’t accept the status quo. You stop learning and growing when you feel comfortable, so go and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. An easy way to do this is to set up a regular check-in for yourself to think about what might be coming down the pipeline. Once a month, or even once a quarter, whatever the right cadence is for you, block time in your calendar to reflect on the past couple of months and think about the future. What might be coming, and where are the opportunities. Then discuss it with your peers and even your manager.
Changes are everywhere, and in them are opportunities for you to grow, learn and develop. Remember, never be scared and jump on the train. It won’t wait for you.
About the Author
Delphine Bernard is an experience leader, previously holding positions at Microsoft, and Skype in Luxembourg where she effectively streamlined and strengthened the Finance accounting and operation processes during pivotal times at both companies.
At Uber, Delphine leads a team that is responsible for strategic sourcing, procurement, accounts payable and receivable, travel and expenses, and payroll. Her team sits across the globe and supports all Uber employees and vendors. Prior to her move to San Francisco, Delphine was the International Financial Controller in Amsterdam for Uber in charge of accounting, booking and compliance for all of Uber’s International legal entities.
Outside the office, she enjoys spending time with her two children and traveling to discover new cultures.