Tag Archive for change

7 Reasons Teams Can’t Just Get Over It

2764755765_4626eeaba5_bYesterday we looked briefly at employees — humans — working through change, as well as the notion that they could “just get over it.” Here are a few of the reasons I’m just not sure it’s reasonable to think it’s that simple.

1. They’re human.

We feel. We see. We hear. We hurt. We laugh. We cry. We experience. And we remember. Try as we might, none of us gets to start with a clean slate, so to speak. We’re imperfect humans living imperfect lives in an imperfect world while working in imperfect organizations filled with other imperfect humans living imperfect lives. It’s often so, so much deeper than someone “just getting over it.”

2. There may be emotional scars.

See above. We remember past hurts, don’t we? Forgive and forget is cute and all, but entirely unrealistic. We don’t literally forget past injustices. We choose to move forward and attempt to live in such a way that we’re not holding people hostage to their screw-ups for their entire lives. But the scars are there. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bitter. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stubborn. It just means they’re human.

3. There may be psychological scars.

See previous two reasons.

4. They believe they’ve seen this episode before and they remember how it ends.

Many times, when folks feel like something is being forced onto them, it reminds them of the last time something was forced onto them. And obviously it didn’t go extremely well if it’s being changed again…

5. They need more time.

Real change takes more time than the fake kind. The human part of change, especially when compounded with the organizational dynamic, takes a good long while most of the time. It’s simply not as fast as most people would like it to be. That doesn’t mean you don’t put things in place, and that doesn’t mean you don’t provide the framework and tools for the change; but it does mean you understand that people need time to really embrace something. Sure, they could put on an act and fake it, but is that really what any of us wants?

They need to experience something different over and over again over a long period of time. It’s partly our experiences that drive what we believe, so in order for humans to truly believe something different, they need to experience something different. And not just one thing. Or two things. They need to see a different trajectory. Real deal change takes time.

6. We have to consider the possibility that we might keep reopening their wounds.

Remember that part about us as leaders being imperfect? Well, that means there are going to be times we mess up. We certainly don’t mean to, but we might do something that to us seems innocent and benign; but based on a person or organization’s history, that thing can have unintended consequences.

7. They can sense when leaders think all of the above is just nonsense and employees need to just get over it. And in a sadly ironic twist, that almost ensures they won’t.

People aren’t idiots. They often know when they’re being paid lip service. They can read between the lines of emails, and they attach meaning to actions based on the organization’s story. When people perceive that leaders don’t really care about their hurt or concerns, it only causes further pain or distrust or anger or whatever else.

Why does it matter? Leaders have a responsibility to care. We can’t simply cross our arms and pout in frustration when an employee or group of employees won’t “just get over it.” Instead, we should be asking ourselves why they can’t. What could we do to help? What emotional wounds need healing?

 

Employees Can’t “Just Get Over It”

changeBeing a human, or a human being, is a tough gig. One of the more difficult parts of being human also happens to be a thing we frequently experience in one way or another: change.

Change takes many forms. Growth. Development. Shift. Adjustment. Redirection. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Rethinking. Transformation.

And it can be experienced and perceived both positively and negatively, yes? Sometimes the change feels good and generates feelings of happiness or contentment. Other times, not so much. It can drive us to our knees in despair, anger, and hopelessness.

Organizational life isn’t immune to this phenomenon. Shift happens. [Insert your favorite cliché shift_happensphrase about change here. Maybe "Change is the only constant" or something.]

Since we’re all humans (I’m operating under the assumption that it’s mostly humans who read this blog), we each deal with change differently, and we deal with different types of change in different ways.

Many times the way some folks deal with organizational change frustrates leaders. These leaders, most of whom I’d assume are very well-meaning, often wish others would work through change in a manner they find more acceptable. Perhaps they believe the employees are being immature. Maybe it’s the pace at which they’re working through the change. It could be the methods they’re using to navigate that time. It could be any number of things or combination of things, and I’m not even saying there’s not ever merit in those things.

Everybody, certainly including leaders, has immature moments or periods. Everybody loses their cool sometimes. Everybody handles some types of change better or faster or more smoothly than other types. Everybody has all sorts of baggage, whether you see it or not.

The-Wizard-of-Oz-House-on-witch So here’s the thing — most of the time, if there were a way for employees to slip on some ruby slippers, click their heels together, and make themselves be flawless as it relates to their ability to embrace and drive change, I think they’d do it. I know I would (although the ruby slippers would be pushing it).

But no such voodoo exists. There are reasons people all over organizations everywhere can’t just snap their fingers and “get over” things or “move on.” Sometimes they’re trying extremely hard, but just can’t do those things as quickly or in the same ways as some might want them to. Other times maybe they’re so emotionally damaged that they’ve essentially given up trying.

Again though, there are reasons. There are always reasons people do things, and that rings true here as well. What might some of them be?

We’ll look at some of them tomorrow. In the meantime, think through your own attitude toward change. How do you cope with it? What methods work for you? What methods don’t? What tips would you share?

But also, think through your attitude toward others as they navigate change. Are you empathetic? Kind? Impatient? Arrogant? Cranky, irritable, and bloated? (wait — I think that’s from some commercial or something) What do the best leaders seem to do to help people through difficult times?

 

Leaders Need a Cause

PurposeLeading. Serving. Doing good. Engaging employees. All that jazz.

Sounds quaint when it’s on a mug or one of those inspirational wall posters, but doing something that matters is rarely easy, regardless of the scenario within which you’re attempting it. Leadership isn’t easy–most of you would likely nod in agreement with that. (If you think it’s easy, you might not be doing it right.)

For example, think about people who don’t quite fit the mold in their particular social group. Granted, sometimes, in some groups, that’s fine. But other times, in other groups, it’s definitely not. You can be looked down on, whispered about, and so on.

That means you’ve really got to believe in who you are and what you’re doing. Why do you get out of bed every morning? Literally–what’s your real-deal, honest-to-goodness answer to that question? The one you’d give if you knew no one–not your boss, not your spouse, not anyone–would ever find out. Why do you do what you do? What drives you? When I figured out my own answer to this question, it changed everything; but that’s for another post.

You work, your leadership, your service to these other human beings you’re with every day–it’s got to be important to you on a level deeper than the “it’s in my job description so I need to get it done” level. It’s got to be more than coining a phrase, or crafting (yet another) tagline or catchphrase, or having (yet another) town hall meeting, or sending out (yet another) survey, etc. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things; but it has to be more than those things. It’s got to be more than becoming a non-conformist, corporate rebel for the sake of becoming a non-conformist, corporate rebel. (Believe me, I think there’s a place for those rebels–those change-makers–but those folks usually do have a cause.)

For your own sake, if for no other reason, there must be a compelling reason. Something you believe deeply in. Something that’s good, courageous, daring, and for the greater good of the clump of humans you’re living life with every day for 8-plus hours a day. You need to know what that “something” is that is because that’s what’s going to sustain you and keep you going when “they” don’t appreciate you, misunderstand you, even vilify you.

This isn’t easy. Important things rarely are.