Change is one of the most perplexing words in the English language. I say that because when change occurs, it seems that it’s human nature for people to often feel stress instead of looking at change as an exciting opportunity. Think for a moment not only about what is taking place in your own life, but in society in general. Every single thing that has ever happened is a change from whatever came before it. Look at the progress that has been made in industries like heating, air conditioning and plumbing, or having a more comfortable car to drive in, warmer clothes to wear when it’s frigid outside, new technologies to save us time, educational enhancements to bring us more in depth knowledge, or medical devices to take away pain and solve health issues. These are just a few examples of changes that make our lives better.
So why do we feel anxiety when change is upon us? There are certain things in our personal lives that are grounded in tradition like which family member may host Thanksgiving or do a barbeque on Memorial Day. A business example could be our transition as we convert from Eterm to Solar in Eclipse. And when something causes a little upheaval in that area of our job or life, it can often create an emotional change in us that doesn’t always feel right. Interestingly, over time we often feel just as strongly, if not more so, about the new tradition or way of doing business and we wouldn’t even want to go back to the old way.
The second area of change that I believe causes pressure has to do with control. When human beings feel out of control, they tend to worry. Conversely when they feel in control, they adapt to change much easier. This reminds me of a study I learned about in college, ironically in a class called “Corporate Culture.” The study was about control or lack thereof. A sociologist had two groups of people. The first group came in to take a test and in the background there was loud heavy metal music blaring from the speakers. This first group had to take the test in this difficult environment. But the second group of people, when they were given the test, was told that they could change the volume of the music or turn it off entirely, or switch stations to music of their liking. Which group do you think performed significantly better on the test? You guessed it, overwhelmingly; the second group because they were more relaxed, and could focus on their work. I’m sure we can all relate to that scenario, as they were able to reduce the level of stress by simply having more control in their environment.
I’ve often thought about that “volume control” story when we make changes at Famous. I don’t want you to feel out of control, and cause you undue stress, pressure, or anxiety. We of course do need to make changes in the spirit of our fifth core value, continuous improvement. This helps us become a better, stronger, and more profitable company, which allows us to reinvest in Famous. Since it is a natural reaction for people to feel some anxiety in the face of uncertainty, the key is to find the proper balance in how much change to undertake. Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. We don’t want to make changes for the sake of change. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to help create a positive, nurturing and inclusive environment where we have open, honest and direct communication. This means that when inevitable change needs to occur for the greater good, we shouldn’t be simply telling you what we are changing. Conversely we should be discussing how we need to change and share why. We will be better off with mutual understanding, and we encourage your feedback before or during the change process. As we include our entire team in change initiatives, you will feel more in control and help us achieve our goals even more effectively.
This philosophy is more than just words on a page. I truly believe it’s our responsibility and that we have a moral obligation to do our best to help give you that “volume control”. However, I want to conclude with one last point. And it has to do with trust. It isn’t practical to talk to over 600 distribution associates on every change that the company makes. Obviously we need to have more dialogue on the bigger changes. Therefore, we need everyone to trust that any changes we make are for the good of the team, that our intentions are good, and we are making changes for the right reasons. Everyone may not agree with every change, but when decisions are made, not only do we appreciate your support, but we need it. I challenge all of us to continue to embrace change, and to do it in a way that energizes every associate in our Famous family. I can guarantee you one thing; change is inevitable, so let’s create new and better ways of doing business and traditions as we build Famous to even greater heights.