Once upon a time, I was in charge of a corporate-level productivity system. The goal of this system was to cut our paper and computer file storage, increase the efficiency of our administrative processes and behaviors, and generally make all of us “Lean, Clean, Fighting Machines”, as far as effective work practices were concerned.
It involved standardizing our daily work processes, filing and handling of information, and adhering to a set of principles that were new or much different from what most of us were doing.
Well, at least we did throw away a lot of redundant or out-dated stuff:)
Now, standardizing those work practices did not go as well …
The system worked to the extent that the person was willing to act according to the practices which made the organization operate more effectively, which were not always seen as the same things that helped them individually do their jobs easily and reasonably effectively.
For example, some folks insisted on keeping copies of pieces of information, like meeting minutes and reports, that were readily available from those people who were responsible for keeping those pieces of information.
For this part of the system to work, you needed three things:
1) The person not keeping the information had to trust that the information would be available to them if they needed that specific information.
2) The person charged officially with keeping the information had to do so in a way that information could be easily retrieved when needed.
3) Both people had to trust each other’s action would be in the best interests of all.
This did not always happen, and so the system would not work effectively in all cases. Of course, those who dared to trust were often irritated by the actions of those who did not trust, while those who always seek a reason to not comply with organizational directions felt rather vindicated in their own resistance.
I learned some valuable lessons about change and people during this time:
1) Some people will often resist what they did not create, even when they are encouraged to be part of the change …
2) Some people will openly and emphatically resist change, simply because they do not like change…
3) Some people will always see the negative aspects of a change, while ignoring or downplaying the positive aspects …
4) The most disruptive resistors are not always the loudest or most visible resistors …
5) Change is not a one-time event, but a long and arduous journey, which some make more quickly than others …
This is one of my earlier experiences using a coaching approach, and not a more traditional directive approach. Rather than simply tell people to do things the way they were supposed to do them, I chose to help people understand the value of what they were doing andhow what they did or did not do affected others in the system.
I cannot claim that it was always successful, partly because I was still learning the nuances of coaching leadership and partly because I failed to realize that not everyone is coachable in a particular situation.
What are your thoughts about the flow of change?
What have you experienced of people undergoing change?
How has a coaching approach benefited you and when did it not work?
Remembering what I now consider a much simpler time in the Heartland ….