• Is your organisation undergoing change?

    Is your organisation undergoing change?

    Posted 12/09/2013 By in CHANGE MANAGEMENT, LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT With | No Comments


    There is so much change going on in all sphere’s of our lives these days and quite frankly it’s a little overwhelming.

    You hear the term ‘change fatigue’ thrown around continuously these days.  I’m sure it wasn’t even a term 10 years ago.  There are a couple of factors that I think are contributing to this fatigue and not all of it is organisationally driven.  Some of it is coming from other areas of our lives and communities.  Sure the rate and scale of organisational change is ramping up.  Change seems to happen more frequently now, but it also seems/needs to happen at a much faster rate than it did years ago.  Part of this is probably the drive to remain competitive.  It’s so easy for competitors to copy what you do, or for technological advances to render your approaches obsolete that we need to respond quickly.  Or so we’re told.  Other factors also affect our organisations.  Things like a change of Government sends ripples (in some cases shock-waves) through industries, or perhaps its the results of a commission of inquiry that significantly changes the way you need to do things, or perhaps industry reform, such as what’s affecting healthcare service delivery across Australia.

    I’ve always said that it’s not systems or processes that change organisations, or even technology for that matter.  It’s people.  At the end of the day, great people will outperform a great system.  It’s also people that can (and do) derail change processes.  Part of that is that genetically, change is linked to a potential threat.  Think caveman.  Struggling for survival in a hostile and threatening environment.  Something changes in that environment (a new tribe moves into the area, potentially competing for scarce resources) and it’s seen as a threat.   Just because it’s hardwired, doesn’t mean we have to accept that programming though.  I know many people who embrace change simply for the sake of change (let’s go over this hill and see what happens).  Often though it’s whether that change was planned and self-directed versus unwanted and thrust upon them that influences how enthusiastic they are about that change.  Nonetheless the difference between them and those who experience change as a threat is often one of attitude (at least initially).  Choosing a different attitude in response to changes is a very useful coping strategy that improves resilience, satisfaction and happiness… but it’s not always easy to do.

    A lot of what I’ve been doing lately has been about challenging leaders and teams to reflect on their attitudes and where identified as unhelpful, to adopt new ones.  Transformational Leaders are able to do this with their people.  They do it through modelling their own behaviour, and also through their concern for the individual and the unwavering belief in their capacity to do so.  Another reframe I’ve been putting forward is a shift in terminology from change to transition.  Think of it like this.  The notice comes down from the Executive that the Department is restructuring and one division and several core services, will go.  That’s the change.  It happens quickly.  One minute it’s not there and then the next it is.  Much like being fired.  You wake up with a job, go to work with a job and then find out at some point you no longer have that job.  We then look (typically) and endings and new beginnings with leaders and change agents acknowledging the past (briefly if at all) and anxious to get to the new beginnings (this is what the future will look like).  The problem is that there’s a HUGE component in the middle.  It’s often characterised as turbulent, messy, unpredictable, uncertain, traumatic.  It’s called the transition and among other things, it involves letting go (another easy to say, not so easy to do concept).  Transition is the period of adjustment between the old and the new. It’s duration, intensity, even the potential ramifications or outcomes of it, are widely variable from person to person, from time to time and from transition to transition.  To rush through this stage doesn’t acknowledge it.  It doesn’t validate that experience for your people.  It doesn’t allow them time to grieve, adapt, respond.  An in rushing through it as a leader you’re essentially saying “Hurry up, that stuff doesn’t matter.”  When it does.  It matters a lot to the people it matters to and as their leader, it now matters to you.  The leader is supposed to lead.  Show people how to respond and to do that authentically, you need to understand how they’re responding.  Sure the time pressure is on.  Sure it’d be nicer if we just got this over with and got on with it.  I get it.  The problem is, those people, your followers, are the ones that will ultimately contribute to the success or otherwise of the changes/transition.  They’re the ones that if engaged and trust you, will help you to outperform your competitor organisations with low engagement.  They’re the ones that will contribute their discretionary effort for you and the organisations goals.  They’re the ones that help make you look good.

    The number one thing people still want from their work is appreciation/recognition for the job they do.  Costs nothing but a bit of your time.  Most people understand that change happens, even when they fundamentally oppose it. Helping them to respond positively and proactively to it by acknowledging and recognising their experience of it is a powerful lever in your arsenal.  How effectively do you use it?

    I have developed two programs around transitions.  The first, Leading Through Transitions, is targeted at those responsible for leading people through transitions.  It looks at a number of leadership traits that are critical and links transition to the way of the Transformational Leader.
    This program is highly tailored for your organisation.  If you are interested we will spend a half day with your key decision makers and review the program and ensure it addresses your organisational context.  There is no charge, nor obligation attached to this step of the process.  Reply now if you would like to book some time.

    The second program, Coping with Change, is for individuals in your organisations who are experiencing change.  It helps them to find opportunities, to avoid maladaptive coping strategies and generally make their transition in the most efficient way they can.

    Both of these programs are delivered in-house.  There are options in how the course is charged including flat daily rate (capped class size) or per person cost (minimum numbers apply).

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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