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Shifting the Mindset of Change in the Workplace

by | Sep 22, 2020 | HR Matters, Professional Services

Stephanie Haydn Buchanan

By Stephanie Haydn Buchanan - Senior Consultant, Business Development

For more information about People AK, please visit peopleak.com or call 907-276-5707.

With detailed research from the AEDC 2020 Economic forecast as well as the hum and buzz around Alaska’s economy, it is no surprise that we are amidst change on the horizon. We have changes in workforce demographics, demand of work, residential populations, and state budgeting. Unfortunately, as humans we seem to resist change.

Change is just difficult to come to terms with. Typically, individuals and organizations alike try to prepare for and address exactly what is changing and how it is changing, and we work to make sure there are systems and processes in place that minimize the disruption.

Why then do more than 70 percent of corporate change initiatives fail (Gallup 2013)? Because we feel a sense of loss of control, fear, and risk. What if we empowered ourselves and our teams to create and maintain appropriate change? This reframing allows for more proactivity, resilience, and an increase in internal locus of control (that innate feeling of: I have some control over the outcome). Behavioral Economic study lends us insight into how our mindset affects our decision-making. Gallup suggests that 70 percent of decision-making is based on emotion and that just around 30 percent is based on rational thought (Gallup 2019). Therefore, we know that under risk and uncertainty individuals rely on emotional and heuristic thoughts (shortcuts that your brain uses to make decisions).

Current Issue

Alaska Business June 2024 Cover

June 2024

Shifting Your Mindset on Change

The Mindset of Managing Change

  • Drive Change from the top down.
  • Prioritize the structural aspects of change.
  • A manager’s role is to inform employees about change.

The Mindset of Leading Change

  • Inspire change at all levels.
  • Prioritize the behavioral and cultural aspects of change.
  • A manager’s role is to coach and empower people to create change.


Heuristics and behavioral economic study shows us that being reactive to change just doesn’t always work. In order to support and facilitate informed decision making, individuals and teams need to address what fosters resilience. Often a complicated and far-fetched word, it is difficult to articulate how exactly to build resil- ience. Gallup suggests that a simple shift in mindset is a good start:

1. Involve, Trust, and Empower
Autonomy and confidence are vital to resilience: knowing that life isn’t happening to you is important.

2. Prioritize Development and Working in Your Strengths
Particularly in the professional setting, developing managers is like training the trainer. Gallup has found that a manager accounts for 70 percent of an individual’s engagement. Under immense change, it is important that those with the highest influence are trained, aware, and committed to engaging their people.

3. Increase Conversation and Feedback
It is important to provide yourself and your teams with multiple channels to communicate, measure, and understand the people around you. Understanding their perspectives and emotions provides more opportunities to change strategy and improve resilience ahead of change.

4. Learn and Grow
As Gallup calls it, an agile and disruption-ready organization never stops adjusting and intentionally learning. These teams seem to detach from the fear of change, and rather, look for opportunities to spot it. This looks a lot like a mindset and approach that experiments, adapts, and collaborates more consistently.

Creating a culture of resilience and better decision-making takes time and practice as it involves deliberate changes in behavior. If you personally or professionally are experiencing change, identify where your strengths are and provide opportunities to invest in your strengths to change your mindset. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is necessary for improved decision-making as well as achieving key performance outcomes through an intentional strengths-based approach.

HR Matters is sponsored content provided by

Alaska Business June 2024 cover
In This Issue
Delivering Anchorage's Promise
June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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