That Sweet Spot
Have you read Toffler’s Future Shock? It was written in the 70’s but it’s about the present – it’s about what’s happening today to people and groups who are overwhelmed by change. Organizations feel it too – when “an individual’s predicament becomes an enterprise problem.”
Undeniably, to keep up, organizations must react to numerous internal and external pressures – sometimes those pressures are overwhelming and at times self-inflicted. The concept of future shock applied at the organizational level means so much change is being engaged that people can’t maintain the expected productivity and quality standards, despite their best efforts. Their fuel tanks get depleted and some folks go into coast mode.
Toffler said, “future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”.
But change isn’t the enemy. In fact, even resistance to change, a social process, can strengthen the change process. Problems only start to arise when resistance manifests into tension.
This happens when leaders can’t make people feel safe and secure, by addressing their fears and concerns. Most of the time tension grows when people aren’t involved in the change process. They aren’t consulted, listened to or made to feel part of the journey.
I mean, no one likes to have a change imposed on them. It’s far better to draw people into the story by making them active participants. The trick is to understand human psychology and address the real concern of: what’s in it for them? Sometimes it’s disruption to their status or autonomy that’s got them on pause or retreating. Or, perhaps its about their lack of certainty regarding their future in the new normal, or the level of fairness or equity that will be demonstrated during and after the change.
Whatever the barriers are, great change facilitators or navigators make people see the positive aspect of a change and make the status quo seem unappealing. They can do so skillfully because they have the capacity to empathize and walk in their team members’ shoes.
For a change to be successful, it requires a compelling story that is communicated to employees and that fosters a dialog. There are two types of change stories consistently told in organizations. The first is the “good to great” story – something along the lines of:
Our historical advantage has been eroded by intense competition and changing customer needs. If we change, we can regain our leadership position.
The second is the turnaround story – typically a burning platform:
We’re performing below industry standard and must change dramatically to survive. We can become a leader in our industry by exploiting our current assets and earning the right to grow.
These stories are common place in many organizations and come with varying degrees of impact. What’s missing from each of them is there’s very little that speaks to what’s important to the receiver of the change. It’s quite clear whose needs are being put ahead of everything else at times: the organization’s, even placing the clients’ and employees’ needs lower on the ranking scale.
Rallying a group of folks to make the choice to opt into the change, versus being dragged into the new normal, requires a subtle shift in the story. Can you guess what that might be? (Hint: its about the people).
What might be possible if the default thinking was ‘my people just want to do great work’? Imagine what the change journey could be if the desired future state included the triple H (head, heart, and hands) of the employees you’re looking to bring into your new future?
TREEO brings an approach to organizational change that’s totally approachable. It’s simple really, and reaches into the triple H of those you want embarking on your change journey– customers and employees alike. This approach steps into change in a way that’s super authentic, courageously engaging and inspiring. It just involves the right ingredient to make something spectacular: people.
For your next change endeavour, find that sweet spot where the principles of what matters most to your employees weave into what you say to them. Where genuine messages of connecting organizational purpose to individual purpose pave the way for the journey you wish to lead your people through. Where choice is respectfully extended to the individuals responsible for the results of the organization. Where your dialog includes greater emphasis on autonomy, freedom, and the opportunity to opt in to something larger than themselves.
So, we ask you: what will your next change endeavour look like?