Change is a constant in most workplaces today. Many of us in leadership positions do not have a good understanding of how to effectively initiate those changes. Not because we are poor leaders, but because we don’t always understand our people. Many times employees resist change and/or complain about the change, or their attempts at implementing the change are slow and not up to par. Many times the employee appears to be inflexible.
“An oak and a reed were arguing about their strength. When a strong wind came up, the reed avoided being uprooted by bending and leaning with the gusts of wind. But the oak stood firm and was torn up by the roots.” … Aesop
The person who is creative often sees change as “making things better” and is eager to get started. However, in their eagerness they fail in terms of “the details”. This happens because once they have grasped the main focus or idea, they quit listening and therefore miss the detailed information they need in order to complete the task.
The person who likes steady, known, and routine procedures is uncomfortable with change. The reason lies in the fact that before they attempt any task they need to know exactly “how” it will be accomplished. Once this person has a well-defined track to run on and have had time to take in and understand the steps along the way, they will be effective and consistent in following through.
The person who has a sense of perfectionism wants everything done “correctly” and will question the validity of required changes. They will ask a lot of questions and insist upon knowing “why” we are making the change. Sometimes, even after they have begun the processes of the change, they will feel the need to “perfect” those processes - again, leading to more questions.
The person who loves to talk and is a people person will be the first to accept the change and talk it up to others. However, because their information intake is visual, if the information is given verbally, they will not remember the details. Even when the information is given in visual or written firm, care should be taken that details are not overly exhaustive.
The manager who takes these differing perspectives into account understands the value of:
...explaining why the change is necessary,
...detailing how the change will be beneficial,
...clearly defining in writing the new procedures, and
...giving advance notice of the changes to be implemented.
As a manager, the flexibility we seek in others must first be demonstrated in the way we introduce the change to our employees.
---Pat Bishop, People & Solutions, Inc.
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