Democratizing Change Management

In the old days, OK the 1990’s the need for Change in organizations was infrequent. The Change was almost predictable, large organisations could adapt to it; you had time to adjust your operating model to remain competitive.

 

That time is over and is noticeable in the prevalence of the number of articles discussing organisational agility. Back then when the business environment was predictable (and maybe easier), the process of ‘managing change’ typically was controlled and driven by ‘the experts’. Obviously, there were many reasons why we heavily relied on the ‘experts’;

 

  • The expert has the experience to understand the impact of the required change. Whilst this might have been true when knowledge was scarce and in the hands of the few, today reality is different.
  • How the corporate world reacts to failure. When changed are implemented unsuccessfully without experts would result in being ‘fired’. Therefore, to avoid delivering bad news in times of crisis or tarnishing your image, we tend to call-in the experts to play bad-cop. In many cases completely outsource the job to the experts is career suicide as managers are expected to be capable to project manage.

 

As dealing with change is now a regular activity, leading it becomes a skill to hone, an internal capacity to master.

 

Back then, the need for change was cyclical and gradual. Today, as we are witnessing with the emergence of new technology and knowledge, change is constant. This has tremendous implications for the organization. This means that change is something everyone must be very comfortable with both as an employee and as leaders. As dealing with change becomes a regular activity, leading it becomes a skill to hone, an internal capacity to master. Clearly, change implementation, strategy execution, or whatever sophisticated name associated with the process, can no longer be outsourced to the expert only; it must be woven into the organisations operating model. In the future, “the way we do things here” should be a phrase that explains how complacency is not acceptable. Leading change is now a core competency and like all core competencies, you need to keep the intelligence in-house.

 

Ask Your Direct Reports Their Opinion and They May Hate You Less

Probably your direct reports don’t hate you, Things are not that bad. It might be mild discontent. But, what could explain the fact that they don’t seem to get it. If only they could stop driving you crazy and just do their job like they are supposed to. Is that the attitude you had when they first joined your team?

“Just do your job and don’t drive me crazy and we will get along fine.”

If this has been your general approach toward your employees, I urge you to consider pursuing a role as an individual contributor, not a leader. It will serve everyone better.

When an employee first joined your organization (or you took the reins of an existing team), you shared expectations, communication preferences, point of view, and boundaries. All with hopeful anticipation and valued camaraderie. “Welcome to the team,” you likely said.

So what happened?

Over time, things got sloppy. Perhaps you got used to each other and replaced communication with assumption.

“She’s been here long enough, she knows what I mean.”

The layman’s term for this is, ‘lazy’. It can happen even when everything is humming along; costs contained, profits up, technology has magically fixed your problems, and you are getting home at a decent hour. The effective leader knows; the garden still has to be tended with a diligent and caring eye.

Although they seldom like to hear it, I frequently remind clients, “Your manager knows more than you.” This has nothing to do with intelligence or common sense. It is about perspective. Your manager attends different meetings than you, receives different reports, is under different scrutiny, and is responsible for more. These are not things a leader should tell their direct reports because at best it comes across as a humble brag, at worst it is sanctimonious.

It is rare for your direct reports to see things from your vantage point. They view the world from their perspective, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn the reverse is also true. Your direct reports know more than you. They are closer to the end-user. They get the latest tactical information in real time, well before your excel spreadsheet turns from yellow to red. Every day they see successes and failures that you never do, or if you once did, you’ve long since forgotten.

When you stop communicating, collaborating, and soliciting opinions, you break an implicit compact. The point of a team is the realization of a strategic imperative. It is the recognition that the accomplishment of something important cannot be successful without the diversity of thought, experience, skill, and perspective. Without that you do not have a high-performing team, you have a group of people who barely tolerate each other, and there is no strategic benefit to that.

So, go ask your direct reports their opinion. Let them know ahead of time that you may or may not agree with or act on what they share, but you still want to hear their opinion because you value their perspective.

 

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INTERM MANAGEMENT / CONSULTING SERVICE

Delivered Interim Management services to businesses in the Health care industry, including Aesculap, Downs Surgical & B Braun Medical. Services provided: Project turnaround, built effective control and monitoring systems and Team building & coaching.

via Projects :: stty consulting – business management,computer & technolgy consultants.

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