Guest post today by Dr Stewart Hase
It constantly amazes me, despite all we know about human behaviour, that managers can still get the implementation of change completely wrong. Psychology may not be a completely exact science and there is much we don’t know yet but it is better than whim. Moreover, there are some things for which we have ample evidence. For the purposes of this article, these are that employees more fully engaged in their work and more productive if: their job satisfaction is high; the culture is essentially democratic; they are valued; intrinsic reward is the norm; they feel they have autonomy in their work; relationships are fulfilling; the work has meaning and purpose; and there is optimum variety in the work.
The organisation had implemented a quality system and a new quality team to review the work of some 300 others. The change process, if you could call it that,: was completely ‘top down’; had no stakeholder consultation or involvement; devised a system of performance management for non-compliance; produced a complex and ambiguous manual that was intended to be a living document (like the law) on which to base decisions of compliance; created a lengthy adversarial system to manage the inevitable disputes over the decisions on non-compliance; was implemented in a culture that used email to deliver quality reviews due to the distributed nature of the organisation; and there was no attempt to make informed decisions after a lengthy trial when things clearly were not working, other than to conduct a change management program for the quality team (not the whole organisation).
In short, all the tenets of implementing successful change were ignored. This resulted, predictably, in: a classic in-group – out-group situation with all the enmity that this causes, especially against the quality team; high levels of stress for everyone; a high level of angry rather than co-operative disputation; team leaders protecting their ‘turf’ by defending non-conformance formally and informally; avoidance of personal contact between the quality team and the other employees; an adversarial culture; job insecurity; reduced job satisfaction; poor relationships; and alienation.
This could have been completely avoided had senior management bothered to read the change management literature or obtain advice from someone who did. Sadly, this was probably not likely to occur given the personality of the senior manager implementing the change.
The ‘change management’ program very quickly became a strategic planning exercise, based on the needs of the quality team, and was extremely successful. Unfortunately, we needed to have the whole organisation in the room and conduct a search conference, or similar process. Perhaps then we might have made a difference. As it stands this organisation will fail to function at an optimum level for a very long time. Worse it will remain an unhealthy workplace with all the sequelae that it entails. And all due to management by personality.
Stewart blogs at stewarthase.blogspot.com
- Love All (jobsearchingblog.com)
- Let’s Communicate About Change (brighthub.com)
- Leading Change and the virtue of patience (wisewolftalking.com)
- The Villain in the Workplace!! (ascendbusinessstrategies.wordpress.com)