Flavor of the Month
The latest management Flavor of the Month: DISRUPTION!
We’re hearing a lot about people being disrupters, disrupting technology, disrupting social norms, disrupting HR, disrupting systems and processes…
We’ve been lean. We’ve been agile. We’ve been highly effective. We’ve been 6-Sigma’d.
Now we’re being disrupted.
Frankly, this concept feels worse than a “flavor of the month.” It has been diluted and exaggerated and misinterpreted to the point that disruption is destructive. What I find most disconcerting about the era of disruption is that the goal seems to be to blow things up, create chaos and let the chips fall where they may. There’s a “survival of the fittest” mentality.
I have spent my professional life dedicated to organizational change. As a corporate human resource executive, I was hired to bring about change in organizations. After three experiences as the executive agent of change, I realized that the executive team and/or the board really didn’t want change. They just wanted to say they “tried” and it didn’t work.
There are hundreds of studies that confirm that the majority of people dislike change. I read an interesting blog that said : “When forced to embrace change, 10 percent will respond like James Bond, 10 percent will respond like Moe Howard from the Three Stooges, and 80 percent will do nothing at all.” Many organizational leaders who want disruption are like Moe.
It cites some of the main reasons people dislike change at work:
“• Many employers do not articulate a reasonable, achievable post-change vision.
• Many employees mistrust the motivations of leadership for organizational change.
• Many employees rightly know that change is accompanied by loss of job security.
• Many people are predisposed to resist change because the present feels safe and stable.”
Here’s what I know for sure
For the past 18 years I have worked with almost every industry, for profit, not-for-profit, and associations on how to change to meet changing business conditions and prepare for the future.
Here’s what I know for sure:
- There needs to be a clear and compelling vision for the future. Increased revenues or market share are good things but not compelling enough to have each and every employee jazzed to come to work and engaged every day.
- The vision will facilitate and align all future decisions including hiring and personnel decisions, capital expenditures and routine budgeting, strategic and tactical plans.
- Operational and human resource policies and practices need to be aligned with the vision.
- There needs to be consistent and compelling communication about the vision.
- Each and every employee needs to have the opportunity to contribute to that future. There will be employees who want to be part of creating the future and those who don’t. The ones who don’t usually de-select.
- Trust the value of line-employees’ contributions and insight into a future vision. I once worked with a group of people who were “in the trenches” – literally. They were public works employees who cleaned city sewers, plowed streets and mowed the right-of-ways. They were high school grads who made about $12/hr., who felt like “victims” because police and fire got all the glory and they got the complaints. When they created their future, they said they were: “pioneers, united, accountable and dedicated.” After they created this empowering vision for their teams and started living into that vision, city hall asked: “what’s going on at public works? Those guys are on fire!!” I loved that they saw themselves as “pioneers.”
- Organizational change needs to be empowering, regenerating and sustainable. Empower all employees with knowledge/information, skills, tools and resources so that it can be regenerating, aka, pay-it-forward. They are training and empowering others with the information, skills and tools so that the vision can be sustainable. The vision is no longer dependent on the CEO, the consultant or any one individual to keep the concept front and center. Ownership is spread throughout the organization.
Many years ago, I would spend 2-3 hours with new employees in my departments and share “The Roots” conversation. It was named after Alex Haley’s book and mini-series Roots. We wanted new employees to have a deep understanding of the past, the present and the future of our company and department, our purpose and vision, the expectations and how they could contribute to the future.
People want to be connected. They want to know how they fit in and can contribute to the future. I recently saw a person who reported to me 30 years ago. She eventually became COO of the company and mentioned how the Roots conversation helped her shape her future at the company.
Disruption doesn’t honor the past or the people who created the successes that led to where an organization is now. Disruption seems mean and disrespectful.
I am all-in when it comes to raising the bar on personal and organizational performance. I’m a firm believer in accountability. And I believe in having the courage to change. I believe in honoring the people who have contributed to organizational success and providing opportunities for them to get on board with a future vision or help them gracefully and respectfully exit when the fit is no longer there.
Just because we’re living in contentious times doesn’t mean we have to be snarky and disrupt everything. We can create new visions that are compelling and empowering. People will be healthier, happier and more engaged. All of which will make for a better world.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker, facilitator and executive coach on personal and organizational change. She’s really good at working with groups that are dysfunctional and want to get better. Call Marty if you’re ready to have the “fun” back in your dysfunctional group, so you can be more productive, more profitable and happier at work: 816.695.5453 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com
Watch this short video about Marty’s consulting services.