I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase if you have worked for any period of time in an organization. “I know you guys don’t like this, and neither do I. Nothing I can do about it. It’s management’s decision.” There’s nothing that can be done about the manager that said that to you. It’s water under the bridge. Here’s what we can work on though. Getting that phrase out of your vocabulary so that, as a manager yourself, you never utter it to anyone.
Change is hard for people. Employees are resistant to most change initiatives because it means moving from something they know and have something they have grown accustomed to, to something that is new and they are unsure how it will impact the way they do their work.
You, as the manager may have some of the same feelings about an upcoming change in your organization. That’s understandable. However, you have been put in a position of responsibility for your work group. This means that you have to be one of the people in your organization that helps to move people toward understanding the change and eventually accepting it as a new reality.
In his book, Epic Change, author Tim Clark talks about what happens in an organization when change takes place. Clark describes the energy required to make it through a change. There are two types of energy. The first is baseline energy, which is required to simply continue your day to day operations without any disruption of service. The second is incremental energy, or energy that needs to be expended to achieve success in the change initiative. The amount of incremental energy builds substantially as you get to the point where you have to begin implementing the change.
This is the critical point for your work group. By the time that peak in incremental energy arrives, your team has to be at a point where they are fully engaged in the change initiative and are ready and willing to help with the implementation.
As the manager or supervisor of the group. You need to be well ahead of that curve when it comes to understanding and supporting the change. Your primary job as it applies to change is to learn as much about the proposed change and why it’s happening so that you can help “sell” it to your group. This applies to any change. From communicating a large reduction in force to help cut costs and perhaps save the organization, to changing from one corporate email provider to another. It doesn’t really matter how significant (or insignificant) it may seem. The role of the leader remains the same.
When a manager tells his group that she doesn’t really support the change either but there’s nothing she can do about it because it’s a management decision, she sends a message. The message is that it is ok to resist the change. When this happens, that wave of incremental energy required to implement the change can become insurmountable. So whatever it takes. Get that phrase out of your vocabulary.
Change graphic borrowed from EPIC Change by Tim Clark.