Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Secret to Successful and Meaningful Change

Before you try to enact positive change, it is critical to understand the culture.

Human cultures are varied and intricate. They are detail oriented with their own systems of reward and punishment. And you can bet your last dollar that every place that brings people together for any purpose will have some kind of culture.

I've seen far too many newly hired managers and consultants try to enact meaningful change only to fail miserably. They meet so much resistance from the employees that they are paralyzed into ineffectiveness. If you want to avoid a similar fate, then make sure you come to understand the culture first.

I don't recommend you adopt the strange customs of these heathens, but, like a good anthropologist, study their barbaric ways and learn. Patiently ask questions about the how and why. How do you keep your customers happy? Why are the TPS reports filed in triplicate?

Over time the answers will form an understanding of why things work the way they do. Plus it will give you valuable insight into the thinking that governs the workforce. Once you understand their challenges and the work they do, you will be in a far better position to promote meaningful change.

Once people have a chance to see that you are genuinely trying to make their lives easier, they will jump on board happily. That means communicating ideas and encouraging their involvement in the process. It is the exact opposite of ramming something down their throats.

Working together, they can give you insight into potential pitfalls and trouble spots which you otherwise wouldn't be in a position to know about. The idea is to foster a team spirit to face the change together.

I realize I am getting all New Age-y with this bugga-bugga but it's an undeniable fact that a united team deals with adversity better. Nothing can be more adverse than change, even when it's for the better.

Take your time and get to know the culture. Understand the work that is being done and the reasoning behind it. Win over the employees by getting them to work with you to find smarter ways of doing the job. If you can do all these things, you will be a true agent of meaningful change.

Otherwise, you're just spreading chaos.

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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