What is Performance DNA?
Much like any living organism, organizations have blueprints or codes...
I went to an all boys high school, a Catholic one to be precise. At the time, it was run by a priest known for his no nonsense approach to pretty much everything. To say that he was 'old school' would be something of an understatement. We were expected to go to class, work hard, and follow the rules. If you needed help, it was easy to find, but there wasn’t much quarter given to complaining and avoiding issues or obligations.
While that man has long since passed, his spirit lives on in a number of ways, including an annual 5K race that serves as a fundraiser for the school. The event’s motto is “Yeah it’s tough. Get over it.” Cleaning out some junk mail today I came upon the flier for that event, and right after I found another flier for an organizational change conference. I won’t say what organization was hosting, but the focus of the event seemed to be more about getting people to feel good about change than anything else.
Looking at those two pamphlets side by side got me thinking about the number of organizational changes I’ve been involved with during my career. Far too often the human capital side of change is avoided because it is the most difficult side of the process. Even when it is not ignored, the default approach seems to be trying to convince people that the change won’t be that bad. Unfortunately, the truth is that managing change is rarely if ever easy, and trying to convince people otherwise is somewhat of a futile shell game.
If people have been with an organization for any length of time, they are likely to be at least content with the way things are. Any announcement that a change is coming will generate some degree of fear and anxiety. Ignoring those issues won’t make them go away, and trying to spin it will make all but the most gullible feel insulted. Instead of doing either of these, just be honest enough to admit that change is tough, get over it, and then have a plan to manage it. That last part is where things get tricky, but we’ll provide some insight on that in the next several posts.