Posts Tagged 'Productivity'

Is change management here to stay?

Out in the market place change management is growing in acceptance and understanding. More and more organisations are putting it on the agenda, recruiting people in to change management roles. It is shifting in to the everyday vocabulary of HR, Project teams and Executives.

Well done to all those who have been influencing this thinking – change management is here, taking its place on the corporate agenda. This is great news for all of us involved, who are sure of its relevance and importance.

So how come – when so much is being said about change management, so many people are calling themselves change managers and so many organisations have change management on the agenda – how come I am feeling underwhelmed by what is being achieved?

What I see happening in organisations at the moment is great news, yet I feel that for change management to stay in the corporate agenda something needs to change.

Great inroads are being made in to introducing change methodologies in to organisations, and no reputable project manager would consider having a project plan without a change management stream. This is good, is it enough? I think the answer to this is NO.

It’s absolutely right to have the change management methodologies in place. To stay on the corporate agenda and for the change management star to shine, there needs to be more.

I think the emphasis needs to shift to managing change rather than change management. A subtle shift yet one that will make a difference. Doing this will:

1. Include discussions about managing change in all strategic business thinking and decisions. If you are asking the questions – how will we achieve our goals? You will be thinking about the way you will manage change.

2. Make it a priority for all leaders and managers. Managing change isn’t just the responsibility of the change manager, the project manager or HR. Leaders and managers should be asking themselves “What do I need to do today for my team to be productive and how do I manage the changes necessary for us to be productive in the future?”

Focusing on managing change rather than change management will also bring about a shift in the role of the change manager. Whilst using change methodologies should be there, they should be the tools the change manager uses to have relevant conversations. The change manager should become more of a facilitator, an influencer and part of the decision-making leadership team.

I see all this being particularly relevant when you are looking at cultural change. It lifts the change management emphasis beyond the mechanics to a more exciting and useful place in the business.

It’s up to all change managers to create and be part of this shift so managing change becomes a strategic leadership discussion. Good luck to everyone involved in creating this future.

This blog appeared as a guest blog for the Australian College of Change Management on 1st November 2011

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Having adult to adult conversations in the workplace

With over 20 years of working I had an experience recently that left me flabbergasted. There are other words to describe the event…..flabbergasted will do for now.

As a fairly seasoned communication professional I was horrified at being on the receiving end of an organisation treating me as a child that couldn’t be trusted. And this got me thinking………

Is it still prevalent for organisations to put in place structures, processes and people who ensure that there is always a parent v child relationship? And if it is prevalent is it really healthy for the organisations and people involved?

I was in the process of negotiating contract terms with this particular organisation. A conversation that I’m sure could have been amicably and satisfactorily managed through a discussion between the parties involved (see article on having tough conversations). Instead the organisation decided that they had to cover their rear ends and the only way they could do that was by becoming terribly official, condescending and belittling – layering on unnecessary formalities and processes to something that really wasn’t that hard.

Their stance was – We have the Power (i.e. we’re the parents) and you have none (you are the child).

The end result was a breakdown in the discussion and probably the relationship. I’m convinced that a discussion could have taken place over a cup of coffee and would have had a very different outcome, even if it had only been the relationship that remained intact.

Inevitably organisations do have processes and structures that are needed to run their business. Are we really still in an era though; where managers are unable to have the confidence and take the responsibility to treat the people they deal with as equal standing adults?

If you are one of those managers who use your position and processes to gain power, what is this doing for you, your team and the organisation?

And if you are one of those people who is at the receiving end of this imbalance, what can you do to fight back, have a say and be treated with respect?

Reasons to avoid difficult conversations

Ever find yourself coming up with reasons to justify why you avoid having conversations that are difficult or confrontational?

As I talk with people in business about the challenges they are facing, it often becomes clear that they are avoiding the difficult conversations or using them as an opportunity to attack others. Which ever path is taken, it tends to mean that you have no chance of achieving the results you want. This has a corrosive effect on the business and for the people involved. Some of the unproductive knocks on effects of these behaviours are:

» Time wasted on conversations that don’t achieve anything
» Break down in relationships that are needed to get things done
» Loss of innovative thinking
» Negative impact on productivity due to time wasted on the wrong actions, the wrong conversations and remedial activities

A Mercer study (2005) showed that only 39% of employees believe mangers do a good job confronting issues before they turn in to major problems. If 60% managers aren’t dealing with the big issues why is it and what can be done about it? What does it mean about the behaviours of these managers, what stops them from confronting issues and having difficult conversations?

There seem to be two main reasons that people don’t have conversations that are difficult or potentially confrontational. Our ability and willingness to have these conversations is dependent on:

» Each person’s previous experience of dealing with difficult conversations – both in the workplace and in other aspects of life. For instance, someone who has been embarrassed, belittled or ignored may find it difficult to say what is on their mind
» The culture of the organisation – does it encourage debate at all levels, is conflict managed so it’s productive, is power/ hierarchy seen as a given when decisions and discussions take place?

Given that we all have different experiences that shape our ability to have difficult conversations and you may be working in an environment that doesn’t encourage these discussions to take place, what can you do and what are the likely results?

Fear tends to prevent people from having the difficult conversations. A starting point when coaching people facing this situation is to be clear on:
» What’s the result that you want to achieve by having the conversation?
And
» What are the consequences of not having the conversation?

Being clear on the outcome you want makes it easier to articulate it clearly and to hold your ground. And thinking about the consequences of not having the conversation often makes it clear that you have to do something differently. For instance, you may realise that not having the conversation is damaging the ability of you and others to get work done; it may be blocking the development of new ideas and could even lead to inappropriate actions being taken. On a personal level it may increase your stress levels, effect relationships and lead to disengagement.

The consequences of not doing anything usually outweigh the risk of doing something. To help you prepare and be ready for the difficult conversations that will arise at some point in your work, take a look at the Kandula tips on Having Difficult Conversations

Is trust a dirty word?

When working with leaders and teams to strengthen working relationships we often stumble across how important trust is to us as individuals. Yet so often I see people squirm when it comes to having discussions about what trust means to them in the workplace.

If you accept, as most people do when probed, that having or not having trust makes a difference to the way work is done, the environment it is done in and the results that are achieved; why do we react as though it’s a dirty word? Continue reading ‘Is trust a dirty word?’

Is there space for collaboration in the workplace?

How many times have you heard in the last year or so that collaboration is going to be all important in the workplace over the next few years? And when you hear these statements what happens to you?

For some the idea of collaboration fills us with joy; with thoughts of engaging people in idea generation, making decisions and gaining a sense of involvement and commitment. Time spent collaborating is seen as useful, enjoyable and without doubt the way to get things done.

Does that describe your response? Or is this more like it…… Continue reading ‘Is there space for collaboration in the workplace?’