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Do What Scares You (AKA Managing Change) Part 2

*This is the second part of a two-part blog post focusing on how successfully managing fear leads to a better outcome for your SME. The change process can be imposed on our businesses by external circumstances or sought out when we want to take our small to mid-sized company through a growth phase. In this post, we’re looking at how to reduce or eliminate fear in the change management process.

In Part One of Do What Scares YDo What Scares Youou, the focus was on the expression of fear. As noted by this critical review of organisational change management research, “…the need for change often is unpredictable, it tends to be reactive, discontinuous, ad hoc and often triggered by a situation of organisational crisis.” (Rune Todnem, 2005). This can include denial, anger, disengagement/fatalism and disorientation. The thing to remember is that no one is immune from fear. It’s an emotion. That doesn’t mean that you have to be at its mercy though. The reactive response is often based on fears.

How do you reduce or eliminate these fears?

There is no way of knowing for sure that you will succeed. However…you have gone through the change process before and you’re still functioning. Your business is still open. Chances are that you can manage this change as well.

So many organisations fail in their change management process. Your business doesn’t have to.

Many of these failures are due to lack of attention to the human element. To keep the fear from running the process, it is incumbent on the business owner/CEO to pay attention to these suggestions:

1. Vision-Write (or draw) your desired end result in as much detail as you (and your team) can imagine

2. Label why change is necessary now-This encourages proactive action rather than reactive “We gotta do something!”

3. Manage your stress (and encourage your team to do the same)-Problems can’t be solved from a panicked state of mind. Deep breathing, go for a walk, look out of the window, exercise, spend time with friends or family, talk with a trusted person, eat healthy food or whatever helps you to stay on an even keel.

4. Communicate-Create communication pathways so there isn’t a vacuum for people to fill in with their “what if” scenarios. Listen to their messages as well as sending out your message. Make it safe for everyone in your organisation to talk about the intended changes.Collaborating & Problem-Solving

5. Make sure everyone knows the strategic plan-This is about communication also. Make sure everyone knows the end goal, why this result will be good for the company and how the organisation is going to get there.

6. Include accountability in the change management plan-Write down and make public who is responsible for specific tasks, the milestones or deadlines and who is responsible for oversight. Whenever possible, have your team design the assignments and accountability partners.

7. If you’re getting in over your head or frustrated, consider using a consultant or coach-Using these experts makes sense. They tend to be more objective and skilled in guiding SME’s like yours through the change process. Make sure you feel comfortable and trust this person.

You can do what scares you

It takes forethought and commitment to keep the fear experienced by you and your team from running the process. There are too many organisations who are filled with resentful people who feel ill treated by the decision makers. This doesn’t have to be  your experience. Change is unsettling and there are no guarantees.

What strategies have you used or seen other business use that successfully navigated the change process?

Growing a business locally or internationally takes a different mindset; the CEO Mindset. Elli St.George-Godfrey, a behavioral economics coach, international expansion consultant and founder of Ability Success Growth, uses her 3 Keys Coaching process to help business owners and executives in the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland to unlock the CEO within. Under her guidance, personal styles are fine-tuned allowing the senior leader to “authentically inhabit” the role of CEO and collaborate with their team more effectively. With this focus on both the people and the organization in which they work, Elli’s market-proven coaching helps leaders and their teams develop styles and capabilities which enables them to collaborate and effectively join together to optimize the business outcomes.

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  • Hi Elli, 

    I think we all want change… as long as it doesn’t make us uncomfortable 🙂

    But, if I’m honest with myself, the change that matters does stretch my limits and pushes me out of my comfort zone. 

    In other words, a part of me flinches at the idea of change… but another welcomes it. 

    Hope that makes sense. 


  • Anonymous


    You’ve captured the essence so well! We can see that a specific change is the best choice but that doesn’t make it easy. It’s how we manage ourselves when we flinch. Do we stay in the hunched up position or do we relax (gradually or otherwise) ourselves to see the process through?

  • Lovely post Elli, change can be a time of great stress also, great points, well done.

  • Anonymous


    Thank you for your kind words! Also I appreciate you sharing it with your followers!

  • Hi Elaine, great post! I’ve fund that teaching people improvisation has worked to help overcome people’s fears of presenting. I’ve also taken away their props such as powerpoint. People who fear public speaking, usually fear feeling or doing something silly in front of others. The trick I find is to get them more comfortable with doing just that. My experience is that once they do silly things in front of others, it becomes much less of an issue and the fear starts to go. 

  • It is also agreed (mostly) that self-deprecation is empowering for an audience. I truly believe dancing in the moment and making use of improvisation, and sometimes acting a little silly, really does help to lighten a mood (if appropriate).
    Of course peeling it back to basics as you suggest Niall allows us the opportunity to work on self, increase confidence, and be more fluid. Relying on slides can be more of a hindrance than a help for some.

    Great comment Niall, thanks you for sharing your insights 🙂

  • I love what you say about physical activity abating nervousness. Purely by doing something else, distracts the fear/anxiety, and allows us to change our own state.

    It also provides immediate feedback from the audience.

    Great to see you practice these effective and simple tips Warren, well done!

  • I shall be giving a speech soon Elaine so this post is very apt… 

  • delighted to be of service Catherine, other great posts here –
    best of luck!!

  • Great post Elaine – another ‘not to do’ is to tell the audience you’re nervous as they immediately start looking for more signs of nervousness! They won’t even notice if you don’t bring attention to it.  

  • Hi Debbie, thanks for the comment & well done on getting the number 1 spot 🙂

  • Shouldn’t email marketing belong to the marketing mix of traditional marketing and new media activities?

  • Hi Velly, you’re very welcome as always & thank you for another great post. Your Tweak Your Biz content (4 posts) has now been by over 10,000 people 🙂

  • Delighted to be featured here. I’m in good company.

  • Well done Bryan, that’s a great post and start, and looking forward to many more! 🙂

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