COPING WITH IMPOSED CHANGE
As some of you experience belt tightening, you are reconceiving service
delivery as offices are consolidated, people are let go or their hours
are cut. Some folks have new responsibilities that remain ill-defined
during sudden transitions. As the organization shifts, you and your
managers take on double roles as change agents and receivers of change.
How do you help the people you lead at the same time you are struggling to cope?
Build your peer manager group.
Clients tell me it is a relief to talk with peers about what this dual
role is like. Start the discussion by inviting responses to one of the quotes below. Then ask how the following five items resonate with your peers:
internal response to the changes may or may not align with your
responsibility to move ahead. In addition, you are coping with others’
psychic and emotional responses
your unit or division may have new responsibilities to learn. In
addition, you are involved in planning, guiding and/or responding to
others’ shifts in position or responsibility
revenues, grant awards, or government budgets have shrunk, changes came
suddenly and from the outside. At the same time that you lack
information and/or a full plan, people look to you for a plan and lots
employees are affected differently by position and structure
changes; everyone does not have the same challenges or react the
a response to sudden change, lack of information, and/or not being able
to plan, some employees question their trust in your leadership.
Search for choices.
I ask managers to pick items that ring true and brainstorm choices
about what they can do in the face of these dilemmas. Some choices do
not remove the dilemmas, but they do relieve the stress of feeling
Reframe your thinking.
I notice three pitfalls in hard times: blaming, thinking in absolutes,
and reducing choices to an either/or duality. As you know, blaming
wastes organizational health like a cancer. If you outlaw it, it
festers. Instead, openly say that blaming is natural and then invite
the group to talk about what results from blaming.
sound like, “it’s never been this bad” or “we’ll never give good
service again.” The trouble with absolutes is that they easily become
hard times, either/or thinking often pits the past against the future:
“Either things are as they used to be (that is, better), or they are
worse.” Framed this way, the future is grim.
Instead, search for continuity between past and future.
Think of times when you and others in your organization have
successfully met challenges. Tell each other these stories. Then ask,
what made these successes possible? How could these elements of success
help you now? This sequence of questions uses “appreciative inquiry’ to
suggest choices for finding pathways to the future.
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THE HEART OF CHANGE
"It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions... Change is
situational... Transition is the psychological process people go
through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external,
transition is internal."
Managing Transitions, Making the Most of Change
behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their
thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their
feelings...the heart of change is in the emotions."
The Heart of Change
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