Whether it is introducing new technology, moving the company, buying or selling parts of the company, being sold or being bought by another company, going through the wrong part of the economic cycle, change is everywhere and change is constant.
Companies that are successful, become successful and remain successful because they can not only deal with change but actually actively manage change.
Every change in your company has an impact on your workers, there is no change in any company that does not affect the workers at that company and change can only be created by the workers in a company.
So managing change is managing the workforce. In order to manage something, you will need to be able to measure what you are managing first. Most managers are not actively aware of their company culture and do little to manage it day to day. In times when change is upon you, it is important to understand what your company’s culture is and have an idea of what you want it to be or what you want to preserve or change about that culture. Company culture starts at the top with your leaders, is carried by your senior managers and should be rooted in the attitudes, beliefs and actions of the workforce. Many things can indicate or create company culture; relations between co-workers and between managers and their staff, beliefs held by the top level managers in the company, a certain pace of work, policies and procedures, meeting formats and frequencies, approach to social media, promotions and recruitment practices etc.
Effective change management will have the following components;
- Clear directions and follow up by the top of the organization
- Involvement of all relevant stakeholders as early as possible
- Setting expectations and holding people accountable
- Showing measurable, visible evidence of the desired change
None of this is rocket science. This is all doable but you need to think about, plan it and actively manage it or the change will happen to you and the results will be unpredictable and may not be what you need or want.
“Change is disturbing when it is done to us, exhilarating when it is done by us.”
― Rosabeth Moss Kanter
With the elections for the US president in November 2016 fresh in our memory let’s look at how to deal with debate in the workplace.
Several topics can spark debate, from politics to religion to parenting and sports. What most of the topics that are debated vigorously have in common is that they are usually not work-related. Work related debate can be and often will be healthy. The dynamic tension between various professionals will encourage all to put on their best performance to ensure their part of the issue will be known and be kept in mind when decisions are taken.
The enthusiastic Monday morning quarterbacking that happens in so many companies can also be healthy as it creates an atmosphere of common interest.
Most other debates have a tendency to turn into an exchange of thoughts that may offend some or all of the participants and seldom lead to a successful change in mind of anyone. Over the course of my career I have not seen anyone after a hot debate about religion changing their mind and their religion, nor have I seen a positive impact from the shouting matches about politics in the workplace.
So is there no place for debate in the workplace? Managing a prohibition on debate in the workplace is hard to imagine, but when tempers get hot it is useful to remind people that no matter what religion, political view, sports team or parenting philosophy you support, you are all here to work on the goals of the company. Anything you do or say that is not helpful to accomplish that goal will limit your usefulness and potentially shorten your career. It is good to know where people come from, it is useful to know each other’s religion so you can avoid potential conflicts. A frank exchange of views and explanation of topics can be useful to understand better why people react the way they do, but that is where the debates and exchanges of views should stop.
The Harvard Business Review has published a great article about it recently, read it HERE
Although I’m a stickler for Goal Clarity I stumble from time to time over lack of goal clarity that looms everywhere.
The most recent example was with a little IT project that we, my son and I, would accomplish for the business of my wife. Doing business with family members is hard enough but yet we tried. The project had a very clear deadline that was unrelated to the project. That’s where the problems started. In reality you may actually encounter that often, your goals have deadlines. You can play a game of sports and the goals are to get the ball in the opposing teams area but within the time frame allowed for the game.
So to cut it short, we failed and didn’t deliver on time so we’ll have to wait for other opportunities to occur to ever finalize it.
What went wrong?
Scope creep is I guess the right word for it. Impressed with the capabilities of what my son and I could deliver on the web, my wife started to ask for more and more features. Not being knowledgeable at all about the complexity of the system, she never gave a thought to changing a real world project to something in cyberspace. Willing to satisfy her goals and showing our cyber-capabilities my son and I got lost in a race against time and never sat down to review where we were and the realities of the project.
So what could have saved the project?
Scope creep is just another word for lack of Goal Clarity. Not reviewing where you are and not realizing the time it would take to accomplish is also just another case of no Goal Clarity. The solutions are embarrassingly obvious; setting the goals, checking every change against these goals and ensuring the client realizes what it will take to accomplish the goals.