Incremental Change, in life, HR and Social Media

When I arrived in London in November last year, I walked into the coldest winter and the hardest recession to hit the world in 20 years. Not quite the welcome I was expecting. It took me some time, months in fact to adapt to not only the weather and the media hype about the recession, but to the changes that had occurred to me physiologically and psychologically.

I come from a country that doesn’t take things too seriously, except getting an early morning surf in before work, over-indulging our children and eating too much. Most Australians are pretty laid back and although they will always give you a piece of their mind, they won’t act on much at all, not even a worldwide recession!

In spite of this environment, I still thought I was prepared for whatever this country could throw at me, the winter being the biggest issue or so I thought. Having lived in London 20 years earlier, I thought I would cope perfectly well. I refused to believe the media “beat-up” about the recession. I certainly enjoyed the change in climate it, it was a novelty all this cold weather business. Where I’m from, the coldest it gets is either inside the 5-below-zero Vodka bar, or occasionally at The Valley pool when you’re swimming in the middle of winter. No need to worry there though, a warm shower, trip to Merlo for coffee and walk to work will get you well sorted.

Change is one of those things that you sometimes don’t notice until it has happened – and sometimes even then, not until someone has pointed it out to you! An interesting thought for me, given I have spent the past 10 years managing and instigating change as my job, career and life.

Funny then, how change can just sneak up on you, tap you on the shoulder and shout obscenities in your face.

When I decided to emigrate to the UK, I thought myself very fortunate and blessed and still do. Not once did I imagine it would be a tough gig! They speak English there…, I’m employable – it can’t be that different!  Well, yes as true as all of those things are, there are some variations. Yes, they do speak English here. It may take a while to determine, but once you get your ear in, you can almost make out, that it is in fact English. Certainly a few words like “wot-eva” and innit”, repeated at 30 second intervals helped clear up my doubts. Teenage speak is similar the world over.

We all know language is interesting wherever you go. Having heard the type of English here and trying to get my ear in, I found even when I thought I was speaking English, I was asked to repeat myself. Not only the impact of my Australian twang (which of course I thought I didn’t have!) but my constant mistaken use of words and phrases. For example when walking in the summer I tended to take my “thongs” in my bag with me as my feet always tended to get too hot and too sore in heels. I gathered quite a few strange looks and offended more than one person when I felt the need to share my strange underwear fetish with them (thong here is used in the same way the Americans do, not what I wear on my feet to the beach).

I still can’t bring myself to call them flip flops……

I learned whole new names for vegetables – courgettes, peppers and aubergines instead of zucchini, capsicum and eggplant. That an Oyster was not necessarily found in rivers and Nectar not necessarily something derived from flowers! I became very intimate with a whole bunch of people I would not normally meet, usually on the tube or bus but sometimes the Tesco delivery guys and the people who came to read the electric and gas meter, inside your house, at 7am on a Saturday, (meters are only ever outside in Oz).

I missed not being able to order a long black or a flat white, with soy (not soya) and no, thank you I don’t want milk with my Americano (Does that not defeat the purpose of a black coffee??).

I have learned to avoid the post office at any time; Tesco on a Friday night, the tube in rush hour, riding anywhere on the route to Heathrow, wearing stiletto heels, and ever leaving home without my portable “Do Not Disturb” sign (iPod).

Even after my years of experience instigating and implementing change, it took me a while to understand that this incremental change was having an impact on me.

Incremental change can affect people as much as if the change happened all at once. I went from driving everywhere to catching public transport whilst reading a map. From a place where 35 degrees on Christmas day can be a little bit too uncomfortable, to a place where 4 degrees is the best it will ever get for Christmas lunch.

I have coped by realising that I have been undergoing incremental change (not without help I will admit!) and by learning to respect and appreciate that these changes abound and are sometimes sent to challenge us. We grow from them, learn from them and understand that one is not better than the other – just different.

I know I am not unique in this experience nor even in sharing it.  I have done my share of major change as well, changing careers, homes and family situations. What I learned is that change of any nature, can be challenging to say the least, even when you instigate it. I sincerely feel for those who never seek out change and then when it happens to them, are grossly affected by it, to the point where they no longer feel able to cope with life.

The two links I want to make about incremental change are around two of my passions, HR and Social Media. Change in HR is inevitable and is usually driven by us, the HR team! We enforce it as part of our strategic business plans in line with what is best for the business. We then try and steer the people in the right direction with as many tools for learning how to cope as possible. Sometimes we fail miserably, sometimes we succeed astonishingly.

Change in the form of new technology, including Social Media can be even more threatening. Something else we don’t understand, another thing we don’t have time for, something we don’t know how to use, something that we aren’t even sure is going to be of any benefit at all to staff and the business as a whole.

If you approach the use of Social Media in your life, be it for business or pleasure, then think about how it will change you and your routine, incrementally. It has the potential to change the way you do things, change the way you receive information, change the way you react to information, change your business processes and procedures and change the way your staff listen and react to you. It can be welcoming or it can be destructive, and like all change, it is how you react to it that determines how powerful it will be in either being part of another tool that you use to help you, or a distracting nuisance.

Whatever the impact, I hope you learn as I have, that it isn’t all bad, just different.

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10 thoughts on “Incremental Change, in life, HR and Social Media

  1. Really makes me reflect on how people who are not as resilient as you really struggle with change – or actively avoid it. And then there are those of us who go a little mental with even the slightest ripple of change …. like yesterday when we had this VILE dust storm that stopped flights, horse races, traffic etc. The haze extended from Vic to mid north Qld – couldn’t really see the Harbour Bridge (Oh no!!) or the Storey Bridge (not so bad). Today there is a fine layer of dust on every single surface of every single object. In the grand scheme of discomforts one must adjust to you’d think it was not such a big deal. Turns out, it is!!! We are indeed creatures of habit, predictability, order and safety. Oh yes, and cleanliness (I concede this one isn’t universal).

    1. Hi Susan,
      The pics of the dust storm made the news here, so it must have been bad! Thank you for your thoughts and comments – and agree, cleanliness not universal, although it would help! 🙂
      Sharon

  2. I too have experienced many changes in my nearly 40 years. I’m thankful for so many things, namely my Big Sister who has taught me patience, understanding, positivity, and the ability to accept people as they are and to better the person I am.
    Although I’m not likely to want to grab my coat for Christmas Lunch in the future, I am open to positive change and am looking forward to many adventures and changes that will come from constantly challenging myself. Thank you Redsprings for my gentle reminder. (PS I love you!)

  3. Just read your blog on moving from Oz – and enjoyed it. I took a webinar for the first time ever on social media today and it’s fascinating how my attitude to a complete stranger (you) changed as I read it. By the end I had a 3 dimensional impression of you as a person and could understand what the webinar meant when they said the “people want to buy from real people these days – and that’s where SM is so effective”.

    So, thanks for pulling it all into focus and helping me see the point of blogging for the first time!

    Good luck

    (By the way I lived in Melbourne for a year and remember the same “culture shock” – but I loved it).

  4. Hi Andy,

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I am really pleased I have made the penny drop, or at least started! As I said, not the first one to write nor experience this, but I am glad it has some truth for you.

    Sharon

  5. Hi Sharon,
    I am in HR & just becoming familiar with SM. Wow, what a change. My 83 yr old father just got a blue tooth for his phone and he was on FB before me! I don’t know if “thongs” is an age thing, but here in Indiana, USA,- that’s what I call them, too. 🙂 I enjoyed reading your comments and hope to visit London someday. I think that if we keep a sense of wonder, change will be something that makes life GRAND and glorious. Sisters are such blessings!
    Hugs to you and yours.
    Jayne

  6. Hello Jayne,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond, I loved your comments. Yes, a change indeed – and good on your father for being keen to take up technology, he is a leader!

    I am so pleased to hear you call them thongs, phew! Together we can change the world Jayne!

    I agree with the sense of wonder, lets try & keep it. Lovely message, thank you.

    Sharon

  7. Sharon,

    You tell your story very well – I even got a little chill thinking about the cold Christmases in London. Nicely done.

    I’m relatively new to social media but am diving in head first. I am COO of a social media marketing firm and your comments about social media’s impact on the workplace resonated with me. We’re going to try to help small US companies figure out how to engage and how to govern employees’ engagement in social media. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It’s a big shift from my healthcare management career, but I’m giving it a go!

    I look forward to your next post.

    Laura

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thank you for your comments and compliments! Head first is the only way to go, I did it too! Happy to keep in contact and share what I know with you, if you have any questions, ideas please let me know. I am on LinkedIn and Twitter @redspringsmedia as well (which is where I share a lot of Social Media stuff). I wish you great success in your new career and look forward to seeing and hearing more of you in the space!
      Regards
      Sharon

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