Coffeepot Chatter: The Only Constant

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Maria (to Harry): I’ve seen the next university president, John Simon, on campus a few times and heard very positive things about him. I’m looking forward to when he officially starts.

Harry: I’ve heard the same – all positive. I too am looking forward to his start on campus.

Maria: Do you think there will be a lot of change due to his leadership?

Harry: I’m sure there will be.

Maria: Change that impacts us?

Harry: Possibly, but it will take time. He will want to learn Lehigh, a process he has already started. Then he may have new goals or initiatives for the university, some of which may impact what we do. What’s more important is that we align what we do with new goals he will lead us in establishing.

Maria: Yes, I remember we did that before when someone new started.

Harry: Yes, we did. Do you recall it being a difficult transition?

Maria (pauses): No, not at all. Actually, I believe I embraced it. 


Embracing Change: Lehigh’s Core Success Factor #2

In this month’s chatter, Maria used the word “embraced” with regard to change. That gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about Lehigh’s core success factors. These apply to all staff positions. Here’s the full list:

1)    Support Lehigh’s Mission and Goals
2)    Embrace and Adapt to Change
3)    Take Accountability for Work Achievements
4)    Take Ownership for Personal Learning and Development
5)    Communicate Effectively
6)    Demonstrate Creativity and Innovation

What’s important to remember about success factors is that they are a measure of how you are performing your work, not what work you are performing. At Lehigh, we value the way you achieve as much as what you achieve. 

The second success factor, embracing and adapting to change, is a great example of "the how." Perhaps you aren’t as big a fan of change as Maria is. It’s still important you look for ways to commit to new ideas and processes that are inevitably coming, regardless of that apprehension.

If you are more wary of change than Maria, we can help you get better at embracing it.

Ryan Morgan, PsyD, from Integrated Behavioral Health, will be presenting a workshop on campus on May 15 focused on being more enthusiastic and resilient in the face of change. We caught up with him recently to find out more about the psychology of change and how we can all be better at embracing it.

Spotlight: What’s so hard about change?

Ryan: Change is disruptive. If you are comfortable in your routine, change brings the challenge of discomfort. Some people are up for that challenge, but the majority of people dislike disruption.

People also sometimes perceive change as a loss of control, which can be stressful. And dealing with change requires energy, which can be hard to come by at work, especially if you are already tackling a full load. 

Spotlight: What are the risks of not embracing change?

Ryan: At the organizational level, if Lehigh doesn’t adapt to the ever-changing world, you will fall behind. The same is true on an individual basis. For example, if you are hesitant to adopt new technology and methods in your field, you could be perceived as a less valuable employee. That’s because with the older system, you might have been viewed as a productive employee, but if you resist the new process, your image as a productive employee could be harmed.

Spotlight: What are the benefits of approaching change with positive attitude?

Ryan: People who are more willing to welcome change tend to be more resilient, more able to bounce back from stressors and they perform better.

Spotlight: What will you cover in your workshop?

Ryan: In the presentation I’ll get to why change is so challenging to people. We’ll also look at how much stress people can handle. Everyone has an emotional reserve, and if the reserve is lower, then it is harder to cope with things like change.

Change is hard, and you might not be a person who ever completely and enthusiastically cheers every change that comes. But you still need to find a way to deal with it positively. Not all change is going to be good, but you have to accept that change happens.

I’m going to focus on resiliency. We’ll look at characteristics of resilient people. The good news is that adapting to change and being more resilient are skills that can be learned. I’m going to help you find ways to regain control when you feel out of control. We’ll work on staying positive, flexible and focused.