Where do you start when it comes to changing the culture at your workplace and putting an end to the vicious cycle of poor results, low morale, disengagement and dissatisfaction? This is a question that will eventually have to be addressed by any leader who is up to anything worthwhile. However, if you have ever tried to do just that, you know finding the right answer is much easier said than done.
There is overwhelming data that consistently shows 80% of employees are not engaged in their work, and their lack of satisfaction and enthusiasm about the work they do impacts not only their productivity, but just as importantly, their health and well-being and the quality of their relationships. Sadly, I know from my experience over the decades, having worked with thousands of people across four continents, most have accepted this monumental epidemic as the “way it’s always going to be.” They have come to believe that work is not supposed to be fun and it is normal to be stressed out and unmotivated. This is why Fridays are so celebrated while Mondays are loathed. As a society, we have simply accepted that work will always be a burden and there is nothing any of us can do to change that.
It occurred to me this week, as I was doing the final preparations for a client visit, that most of what I speak on and write about has to do with what is commonly referred to as “change management,” yet I hardly ever use that phrase. I think the reason for this is two-fold. First of all, I have no desire to jump on some bandwagon and be lumped together with all the “Change Management Experts” out there, who may or may not have ever personally led any kind of transformation at all, and secondly, I believe the term “change management” perpetuates an entirely false connotation. I believe the greatest issue with change management has to do with failure to recognize that “change” is rarely the problem, and “management” is rarely the solution!
If your organization suffers from a persistent communication problem and all your attempts at solving the problem have failed, it could be because poor communication is only a symptom of the real problem that you should be addressing. If you are constantly training your people on communication skills and trying one tool or process after another, only to see them seemingly go to waste, it is because your bottleneck is probably not a missing tool set or even skill set. If this is the situation you find yourself in, I submit that you don’t really have a communication problem, but rather a commitment problem!
If you have ever taken on a substantive change or major transformation, you know that such pursuits always almost always invite some resistance and hesitation. If the initiative has been tried and failed before, you have even a bigger challenge on your hand. You might hear the initiative being referred to as another “program of the month,” or be told by someone in the organization that they have “tried that before and it didn’t work.” Needless to say, convincing naysayers to become enthusiastic advocates for change in situations like this can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But there are some things you can do that can help, and I’d like to suggest a few in this post.