Erica Hodgson, Change Management Director at Differentis

Erica Hodgson is a business change leader with a passion for inclusive change management and stakeholder engagement. With over 25 years experience, Erica has spearheaded transformative initiatives across diverse sectors, from public service to private industry. Notable achievements include leading critical incidents seamlessly, enhancing organisational trust, and developing the acclaimed “Get it” change method, accelerating transitions by up to 45%. Erica’s expertise extends to establishing change management as a core function in major institutions, fostering resilience and growth. As the Change Practice lead at Differentis, Erica continues to shape organisational cultures and empower teams for success.


Imagine you’re leading an organisation that is going through a major transformation. The Board has just approved a strategy shift that will directly impact many positions which people have been in, and developing, for years.

What if, instead of presenting the change from the organisation’s point of view, which leads to fear and instinctive recoil, it is positioned in such a way that people could see the opportunities to harness the transformation, and propel themselves forward both professionally and personally?

In this article, I will explore how, as change leaders, we can assist individuals in embracing Change as a catalyst for unlocking hidden potential and achieving remarkable success.

The Evolution of Business Change

The world is evolving rapidly, and businesses are doing all they can to stay current. What used to be sporadic transformations, like mergers or system upgrades, have now become continuous adaptations. Companies must respond swiftly to market shifts, technological advancements, and unforeseen events, like pandemics or war.

This perpetual state of change impacts the organisation’s bottom line. It also affects its most valuable asset—its people.

The toll that constant change takes on employees is considerable. Frequent changes in direction or priorities create uncertainty about jobs, roles, structure, and the future. This leads to feelings of anxiety and disengagement. It leaves people feeling overwhelmed and undervalued, impacting motivation and commitment to the organisation.

Continuous adaptations also affect productivity. People struggle to keep pace with ever-changing processes, tools, or expectations. This leads to inefficiencies and declining output. The constant need to adapt to ‘the new’ disrupts workflow and hinders collaboration among team members, further exacerbating productivity challenges.

The relentless pace of change also affects people’s work-life balance. Grappling with new challenges or demands encourages longer work longer hours and sacrificing personal time in order to meet deadlines or stay ahead of the curve. This imbalance can lead to increased stress, burnout, and decreased job satisfaction and retention rates.

Organisations must address this “Change Fatigue” to succeed. There are two ways to approach this:

  1. Reduce the speed of change
  2. Better managing of change.

Considering that a company that slows down and does not keep up with its market, the environment, and its clients’ needs will not survive, the first option is not really viable. This leaves option two — managing change better.

Understanding Our Response

The notion that “people hate/fear change” is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. It is often cited as a reason that transformation programmes fail.  Here is the neurological reasoning behind this:

Our fear of change stems from the evolutionary wiring of our brains. Our limbic system, the ancient part of our brain responsible for survival instincts, constantly scans for environmental threats, which can make any form of change threatening. This provides a logical reasoning to why we don’t deal with change well.

But we need to also recognise that our brains are likewise wired to adapt and learn. While the limbic system flags potential risks, our prefrontal cortex, the rational thinking part of our brain, enables us to analyse, strategise, and embrace new possibilities.

Equipped for Change

Charles Darwin astutely observed that survival doesn’t favour the strongest or smartest but those most adaptable to change. Human beings are naturally resilient.

Throughout our lives we constantly navigate significant changes — being born, learning to walk, pursuing an education, parenthood, having kids, becoming an adult, growing old — all are testaments to our resilience and adaptability.

This innate quality should inspire confidence in our ability to not just survive but thrive amidst continuous change.

So, can we draw on our people’s prefrontal cortex and personal experiences, and call on that resilience as we lead workplace transitions? By promoting a growth mindset, allowing personal gains, and encouraging participation in the journey, our people can empower themselves to navigate change effectively.

As an organisation, we can build transformations as natural events, offering growth opportunities that have the potential to serve the individual as much as the organisation. Offer employees the opportunity to develop higher levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, allowing people to seek growth and benefits in work and success in life’s eventful journey.

By aligning individual and organisational efforts, change ceases to be a source of anxiety and becomes a catalyst for personal and professional growth.

Change: Inevitable And Opportunistic

So, can we position change as opportunity? Where every alteration, even those involving job losses, presents new prospects for growth? It’s all about presentation and mindset.

Instead of leaders viewing change as a disruption, try to accept it as a constant backdrop—a canvas upon which to paint new experiences and achievements. This optimistic perspective can fuel an environment for personal and professional growth, even in the face of significant changes.

I worked for a central government department during a restructure that led to redundancies. Recognising that redundancy is unsettling and challenging, we structured the engagement to acknowledge that but also exposed the other side, the duality of the situation. As we supported the people in accepting the news, we also supported people in embracing this as an opportunity for reinvention and exploration of new careers and ventures that might never have pursued otherwise.

Similarly, an organisation introduced an HR system resulting in a large number of people needing to apply to new roles, with training, or accept redundancies.  Again, we acknowledged that this was difficult and would require personal investment to manage, but is it truly a catastrophe? We repositioned the situation into an opportunity for people to investigate new avenues for career advancements, skill development, process enhancements, and gaining skill sets required for possible new jobs elsewhere.

Organisations Facilitating Positive Change

Organisations, aware of the impact of Change on individuals, have a vital role in presenting transitions.

  • Be clear, transparent, and forthcoming about what is happening and why.
  • Help employees translate strategic changes into personalised, tangible benefits.
  • Create supportive environments through effective engagement and learning.
  • Provide the logistics required to maximise the growth potential, such as training, networking, and coaching.
  • Reward ownership of personal journeys.

Supporting Individual Change

As change leaders, we must create situations where people can directly and proactively engage in the change and view it as an opportunity rather than a threat. This allows people to understand and process what it means to them in their own words. People are able to thrive amidst change.

This engagement involves:

  • Create engagement opportunities like critical friends, subject matter experts, change agents, etc.
  • Encourage a growth mindset, and foster continuous learning and adaptability.
  • Assist the definition of personal benefits.
  • Apply your own experiences to help others navigate new transitions.


Change is a constant in business, and it can be challenging for employees. However, it is essential to remember that our brains are wired to seek opportunity and learn. As change leaders, we need to position change better and offer growth that serves both the individual and the organisation.

By embracing change as an inevitable force that can bring new opportunities, we unlock hidden potential and can achieve remarkable success.

Let’s work together to create a culture of adaptability, resilience, and growth that can help us thrive amidst continuous change.


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