One of the top comedies playing in theaters in 1969 was a gentle farce named ‘If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium’. The story followed a group of American tourists on an 18 day bus tour through 7 European countries. With a new country, customs, language and currency every other day, the misadventures piled up. The more the tourists were away from the friendly confines of their native land the more they yearned to change Europe to be more like home.
Have you ever travelled through an organization that tried to present something new and different seemingly every over day? Or one where every few years, a new Vision or Mission Statement is created? 2010 was ‘Green’ and 2011 was ‘Lean’. Monday focused on aggressive sales and Tuesday highlighted customer service. And on top of everything else, the management style was the flavor of the week.
Is this ADD-style leadership normal? No, but it is far too common. Is it effective? Yes, if you are trying to create a dysfunctional work environment.
When a new system is brought in, leadership often expects immediate (or at least quick) results. In the real world that seldom happens. With the pressure to maintain production, management can sometimes impede leadership’s change plans. Frequent change also damages the credibility of leadership. This alienates the workforce, prevents buy-in, and causes the newly proposed changes to fail.
The cycle of on-going change has to be smashed before it can be rebuilt. Thus it can be summarized with one question.
How does one deal with change in order to generate the essential buy-in?
The quick response to all this is, “we need more training”. But that is a two edged sword. More training may be part of the problem. It takes the right training to put things back on track.
Most management books / systems / seminars and training provide some excellent ideas. But some tend to be very generic which often does not meet every need. Others are overly complex which may bog things down with needless steps, phases and costs. And none of this creates any sort of buy in.
The right training is one that utilizes experienced, objective eyes to analyze each unique situation and provide training customized for the organization. The right training aligns all the relevant levels of the organization towards a workable and sustainable system-wide plan. And most of all, the right training has an astute understanding that how the changes are presented can have a bigger impact than the actual changes themselves.
And just like in travelling to a foreign world, change can be a stressful, nerve-wracking experience… or it can be a wonderfully rewarding transformation.
By: Ed Wildeman