Thursday, 22 November 2007

The answer to myth 14: There will always be casualties - people not accepting change - and you need to identify and deal with them

This assumption - and its equivalent, which we’ll look into in the next post - contains quite a lot of common sense. I have warned you several times before about preconceived ideas and I suggested a ‘suspend judgement’ policy. Yes, there will always be casualties, but you don’t know which ones. This assumption cries for leaders with significant emotional and social intelligence skills (in short supply), leaders who are able to read beyond the obvious and ask the question ‘why?’ Why the casualty? Happiness and unhappiness are part of our human nature. You can’t make people happy or unhappy. People make themselves happy or unhappy. I prefer happiness to unhappiness but can’t run a client engagement assuming that everybody is going to be happy. Unhappiness sometimes comes on the back of difficulty. What people might be saying is: “This is tough.”

Again, I would think twice before labelling the casualties. The death of many unhappy employees is sometimes grossly exaggerated. The statement also includes the words ‘accepting change’, so it contains the hidden famous assumption that people are resistant to change, which we have dealt with several times before. Viral change asks us not to make early assumptions. The power of internal networks enables them to deal with ‘receptive and non-receptive people’ far better than the managerial plumbing system. Inclusions and exclusions become very obvious after the peer-to-peer influence.

If some people do leave, make sure you take some time to look beyond the obvious ‘exit interview’. In such an exit interview, people tend to pay excessive attention to ‘what was wrong’. Incidentally, I prefer ‘stay interviews’, i.e., asking people why they are still here. From those who finally exclude themselves, we can learn not only what was ‘wrong’, but perhaps also what is going so well, that they can’t integrate it!

If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

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