The Ghosts of Change Past


By SkyeTeam on April 26, 2016

Posted by SkyeTeam | April 26, 2016The Ghosts of Change PastThe desire for organizational change has become so prevalent that is now taken for granted. Everyone wants it because no one is happy with the way things are. Managers no longer have to be persuaded that changes are necessary or even what needs to be done. At the end of each year, there’s a renewed determination to do things even better; to change what needs to change. They want you to believe, as much as they do, that this year will be different.But the challenge is always the same: How to do it.Although employees are often unfairly blamed for preventing organizational change from occurring, there is one notable occasion when they are. Lest you get too excited, you need to recognize that it’s your fault. They are simply following your lead, or lack of it.It’s simply this: How do you persuade employees that this time you mean business? How do you convince them that all of the attempts during previous years were unsuccessful because the management wasn’t really serious about it? Why should you be believed this time around? What are you going to do differently? Where’s the evidence that this time it will actually happen?Quite often, the hype increases. Middle managers become enthusiastic, the flyers appealing, and excitement exudes from the board room.Sometimes the people who actually work in the organization are consulted. It seems that they matter after all. Meetings are held to discuss options with them. Even the unions are invited to participate.Targets are agreed. Methods are developed. Plans are finalized, and then the implementation begins. At first things seem to be headed apace in the right direction. But then, almost inexplicably, the process slows, and then stalls.“Here we go again,” the employees lament, and before the management can say, “What happened?” the change initiative is over until the next big initiative comes along.Why is it that even with employee cooperation change programs fail? Primarily it’s because the status quo was built into the plans from the outset. That’s not to say that someone surreptitiously inserted a sub-plan to keep everything exactly as it was. The truth is that certain key parts of the organization weren’t redesigned to change with everything else.Change programs fail because the status quo is built into plans from the outset! Jesse JacobyClick To TweetLet’s look at an old way of thinking. Actually, it may not be that old. You can still find serious discussions about this online.This may surprise you, but there are still people who labor over the roles of leaders and managers. You’ve heard it all before. Leaders do the right things, and managers do things right. Whether or not the two functions are found in one or two people is irrelevant. What’s key is the two activities.In order to do the right things, you have to have the insight to know what should be done and the authority to change from one to the other. But, in order to do things right, you have to keep things the same. You have to maintain the status quo; and volatility in method doesn’t support homeostasis in the workplace. In fact, it’s the very antithesis of it.That means that in order for any organizational change to occur and to be sustained, the internal workings of the workplace also have to be changed so that the one supports the other; because without that, a time will come when the way things have always been done will take over.And that’s why employees resist your efforts to change your organization. At first, they’re excited, too. But when they come up against systems and procedures that support the old way of thinking, they soon realize that nothing they do to make things new will make any difference.And it’s at that point that they go back to business as usual.About the Author: Jesse Jacoby is the founder of Emergent and a recognized expert in business transformation and strategic change management. He and his team partner with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies to deliver successful people and change strategies. Jesse is the developer of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model and business transformation tools Change Accelerator and Savvy Transition.Related ArticlesTags »changeleadership development denver Share
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