Ask the Expert: Thriving through change

As part of our involvement in the Bristol Media People Forum Event Series, we got the chance to catch up with Liza Hughes; Leadership Coach, Company Culture Specialist and Advanced Emergenetics Associate to chat with her about the topic of her upcoming People Forum Session about “Thriving through change”.

Liza has worked either in or with some of the UK’s most respected and innovative organisations for some 30 years. She retrained as a coach 13 years ago to bring her passion of helping organisations to deliver great culture through human excellence to life.

“This is the latest in a series of talks that the People Forum runs. With no let up in the pace of change and plenty on the horizon this seminar will address some topic issues and will be of great benefit to organisations” – Richard Roberts

We asked Liza for some practical insights and pointers about the topic of “Thriving through change” in a business context specifically, and how those attending the event can truly benefit.

ADLIB: For some background, could you share a little bit about the neuroscience and positive psychology at the core of your approach?

Liza Hughes: Neuroscience and positive psychology are vast subjects, but as we learn more about how our brains work, there is more accessible information available to all of us. I use a brilliant tool called Emergenetics which uses insights from a wealth of neuroscientists from Roger Sperry’s Nobel prize-winning split-brain research to the most recent developments in brain scanning like magnetoencephalography which enables us to see the brain in very close to real-time.

These advancements are helping us to understand more about how people view their worlds depending on their preferences for thought and behaviour. The brain is a certainty making device which is organised to minimise threat and maximise reward, so the more we know about it, the more equipped we are to handle important things like change.

ADLIB: Can you share some theories and tools that have successfully supported organisations to lead positive change in their working environments?

Liza Hughes: Marty Seligman is the godfather of positive psychology; his research has shaped the sector and is compelling reading. Even very simple theories around the ratio of the positive to negative thoughts that we have impacts on whether people are more likely to languish or flourish through change, just focusing on what is good about a situation can make a big difference.

We are living in a time of rapid change where technology and innovation are constantly shifting, so it’s important that we become comfortable with ambiguity. I’m a big fan of Martha Beck whose change cycle helps people to be more mindful of the four stages of change, it allows us to take more control over our relationship with change, rather than feeling that we have no choice. I’ve been fortunate to run workshops across entire organisations and 9 times out of 10, folk are more likely to reluctantly accept change and live with the unintended consequences which causes disengagement. A critical step to thriving through change is to give people access to these tools, so they feel empowered and have more personal control and choice.

ADLIB: Can you share your top 3 tips to lead positive change in one’s own working environments?

Liza Hughes:

1. Know what your strengths and preferences for thought are and consciously use them, as they will help you to understand how you prefer to deal with change. If you are a structural person for example then it’s important to have a plan to help you get through the change versus someone with a conceptual preference who will prefer to be more connected to the bigger picture and set goals to achieve it. Then, if you are a leader, make sure you adopt a whole brain approach to communicating change, think through your change from a conceptual, analytical, structural and social perspective so that you can communicate to all the brains in your business, this can reduce some of the unintentional consequences that often arise.

2. Always consider where you are in relation to the cycle of change. That gives you a sense of control back too, so you can create a more positive relationship with the change. Often leaders are much further down the line in their strategy before they start to talk to their teams and forget that they need to go back to beginning to bring everyone onboard.

3. Get better at handling imbalance. Dr Steve Peters says that successful people enter a process if they are balanced it will work, if they are imbalanced they will sabotage.

ADLIB: What are the key things you are hoping attendees will take away from your session?

Liza Hughes: I’m definitely a practical person, I think it’s my northern roots, so expect to get plenty of practical tips on how to best take advantage of change with a bit of theory thrown in for good measure!

The next People Forum Event “Thriving through change, developing the mindset for success” featuring Liza Hughes takes place at The Engine Shed, Bristol on Thursday 27th September between 8-10am. For some more information and to book your ticket head to Eventbrite.

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