SOURCE: Kay Sever | April 1, 2021
Over your career, change has impacted your job. Sometimes change was voluntary… you saw a better way to do something and changed it to make your job easier. Other times change came down from above in the form of an initiative that would help the company make more money.
Through the years, how many times did change initiatives impact your responsibilities? Did you play an active role in change, maybe as a team member or coordinator? Did you help lead an initiative, either within your department or across multiple departments? Did you approve spending for change initiatives or for optimization?
If you had a leadership role in change, you may have worked overtime and weekends for months to help meet the expectations of senior management. When change was a high priority in the company, you probably expected things to be easier to change. How many times were your best efforts not enough? Was change harder than it should have been? Did you hit a “brick wall” instead of an open door when a new way to work was in play? Did the management team back away from change if it involved a change for them? How much money (or credibility) was lost as a result?
Jumping Into Change Without Understanding Your Obstacles
We are taught that fear of change makes change hard in the workplace. Fear of change is real, but it is NOT a reason for initiatives failing to deliver expected results. Interestingly enough, the most impactful factors that make change difficult aren’t evident or part of our world day-to-day…
TRUTH: There are invisible barriers that are ONLY ACTIVATED when change becomes a priority.
When companies “jump into change” without knowing how to negotiate their barriers and pitfalls, change may feel like people are paddling upstream. Resistance rears its head in unexpected places and discouragement replaces enthusiasm as the urgency and early inertia for change fades.
These barriers are often fall under management’s umbrella. They are either directly related to management actions or indirectly influenced by management dynamics/practices. These barriers are SELDOM or NEVER recognized or discussed before a change initiative is implemented.
Management’s invisible barriers cause surprises during a change journey… leaders that pull back from initiatives they once supported or managers that don’t do what they need to do to support opportunities that “bubble up” from lower levels in the company. Unspoken messages sent by reactions like these are “received” by change initiative team members and the workforce… and the result is ALWAYS NEGATIVE! These messages cause setbacks to “change progress”, forfeit dollars that could have been brought to the bottom line, send mixed messages that cause confusion about priorities in the company, and hurt the credibility of the management team… we could go on.
Links to Optimization
How is this dilemma with management’s change barriers linked to optimization? There are two answers to that question:
1. Optimization requires change… not just changing equipment or systems but also changing the way you manage the organization. Remember, some barriers to change are ONLY ACTIVATED when change becomes a priority. The same thing is true for optimization! Changing how people work together is part of the optimization challenge, which means that the “people side of optimization” contains similar management barriers as change initiatives.
2. For optimization, there is also a set of barriers that involve numbers… numbers that are new… numbers that may conflict with budget… numbers that may reveal unknown upside potential. Numbers linked to optimization and potential change the “decision-making” landscape. Knowing how to recognize and respond to this new set of numbers BEFORE new equipment and systems GO LIVE is a management skill that most people in leadership roles do not have. If management chooses the wrong response to new information, ONLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN!
Hazard Training for Change and Optimization
Think for a moment about safety “hazard training”. Why it is so important that each employee complete hazard training and an annual refresher course each year? You know the answer… keeping everyone safe on the job is one of the most important roles of management. Training and retraining each employee helps everyone understand, recognize and remember the dangers in the workplace so they can avoid the hazards and take action to remove them BEFORE an accident happens. How many accidents are avoided every day, week or year because employees are aware of the hazards in the workplace and know what to do if they encounter them?
Negotiating or removing management’s barriers to change and optimization is not taught in college classes and is not included in optimization/change theories. As a result of this gap in management skills training, executives, leadership teams, superintendents and supervisors are “running blind” when embracing change… similar to entering a rattlesnake-infected area without snake boots or snake chaps!
What if management could go through “hazard training” for change and optimization? How much easier would it be to change if management knew how to recognize and negotiate their obstacles BEFORE they encounter them? How much faster would a change initiative or optimization progress? How much backsliding could be avoided? How much more money could be made? How many more projects would be completed? How much more credibility would a management team have AT THE END of an initiative?
Thought for the month: How much easier and faster would change be if management understood their barriers to change and optimization and knew how to avoid or remove them?
Kay Sever is an Expert on Achieving “Best Possible” Results. Kay helps executive and management teams tap their hidden profit potential and reach their optimization goals. As the VOICE OF OPPORTUNITY in business, Kay has developed a LIVESTREAM management training system for Optimization Management called MiningOpportunity – NO TRAVEL REQUIRED. See MiningOpportunity.com for her contact information and several training options for your team.
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