5 dumb things people do when they try to change the workplace. Especially # 2

  1. Choose your actions carefully when you are the replacement for a weak leader

    Try to avoid these bad approaches!

    Constantly talk about how another company does “it” (i.e. whatever change is being made). Google may be great, Joe’s Ribs up the street may be dandy as well, but if all your points of reference as to why the company should change refers to how one other company is doing whatever you do, eventually people will tune you out, and the less polite will suggest you go work there, preferably immediately. If you are using other companies as a reference point, make sure to vary your examples and also be aware of your own company’s particular strengths. And if your reference point is a defunct company, make sure the item or behavior you’re proposing to adopt was not a key reason for the company’s demise.

  2. Place too much weight on their business unit’s corner of the world vs. its relative importance to the overall company success. It’s great to play to your strengths, its also good to streamline and perfect processes under your control. However if your area of expertise is only delivering .5% of the bottom line and all of your change plans aren’t likely to significantly change that, don’t expect the whole company to change to accommodate your plans.
  3. Insist on leading a change project because it was your idea.  Yes, it’s important to get credit for your good ideas. Unfortunately you may not have the skills and connections yet to lead the whole change. Don’t sulk if you don’t get to lead the charge. Ask for a position on the team, just don’t expect to be the chief.
  4. Expect the change plan to remain exactly as first envisioned. Tweaks, detours, roadblocks and Version’s 2.0, 5.0 and 6.0 are to be expected.
  5. Ignore the “unwritten rules” of the prevailing culture. If the team is predominantly highly competitive, slightly hyperactive people, they’re not going to sit through too many “talk through our feelings” sessions. If the team is a group of highly sensitive, keenly attuned to human behavior, social work type professionals, you won’t turn them into sales people overnight. Don’t take the company’s written values statements at face value, look at its actions, its people and its internal culture before mapping out your plan.
book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Need some more things to consider before creating your plan? Read our 10 rules of turnaround. Want to make sure you’re identifying the “unwritten rules” of your workplace? Get our free field guide to ask yourself the right questions.

Just need a whole new approach this year? Try this instead.

 

What Bubble are You Living in? Billy Joel used to live in it too!

 

trapped in a bubble

Sometimes you’re living in a bubble and don’t even know it.

“All your life is Channel 13, Sesame Street, What does it mean? Pressure Pressure.”

“Pressure” by Billy Joel ©1982

What do you and I have in common with Billy Joel? (Hint:the answer is NOT Christie Brinkley. The Katie Lee Joel cookbook is a viable answer but not the one we’re looking for here!).

Sometimes we don’t realize how much we don’t know. If you’ve worked in one type of environment, industry or managerial structure you may think you “know” how things work. And you probably know quite a bit about how things work in your specific world.  You know every quirk of your department, that it’s never a good idea to bring up a new project in third quarter, that the marketing team can always be outvoted by the sales team and that every three months someone will reliably throw a fit about people not cleaning stuff out of the break room refrigerator, complete with a freshly printed sign taped to the refrigerator door and some pointed emails from the person who got stuck doing the big cleanout.

Growing up just outside of New York City, my family didn’t travel much. There wasn’t money for big vacations.  In New York, pre-digital television,  Channel  7 was ABC,  Channel 4 was NBC, and Channel 2 was CBS. Last but not least, Channel 13 was the local Public Broadcasting Affiliate (PBS). Which broadcast “Sesame Street” (for my international readers, “Sesame Street” is a children’s show which features humans and puppets teaching 3-6 year olds how to read, count and learn various life skills. You can see a clip here).

When I moved to Atlanta, Georgia to go to college, one of the first things that surprised me was that the TV channels weren’t the same.  Now, Channel 2 was ABC, Channel 11 was NBC, Channel 5 was CBS and Channel 8 was PBS.

Not exactly a mind-blowing revelation on the scale of “Who is Keyser Soze?” but a small rattling of what my 17 year old self “knew” to be true.  For 17 years the NY channel line-up was my “truth” and Channel 13 was PBS, home of “Sesame Street”. And apparently, the same was true for Billy Joel. So much so that he wrote about it in his internationally broadcast hit song.

I often wondered what the heck people outside the NY/NJ area thought Billy was singing about when he mentioned Channel 13 since it was not their reality. Did they realize it was “connected” to Sesame Street (mentioned in the next line of the song) or did they think it was an abstract reference like “Area 51” or some hip thing they didn’t “get”? “Pressure” came out “pre-internet” so I imagine some people were very confused.

It really was just Billy’s moment in the bubble. In  1982, in his world and mine, Channel 13 was PBS and we assumed everyone would know that.

When you are leading a change, or if you are working in a new environment, are you assuming that everyone else’s “rules” and “truth” are the same as yours? New leaders, new technology, geography, or a change in your customer base can all affect the environment and sometimes we don’t even notice it until it’s too late.

What’s your “Channel 13?” What do you “know” to be true in your world? Is it?

(P.S. Did you get that old lunch of yours out of the refrigerator yet? Because you just know that memo is coming! Watch Billy Joel sing about Channel 13 while you’re doing it.)

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

P.P.S: Need help testing what you “know” to be true? Download our free Field Guide for understanding the organizational landscape before you begin creating change. “Reading the Terrain” gives you easy questions to ask yourself that will help you see your world with fresh eyes and broaden your perspective.  Sign up at the right to receive our newsletter and you’ll get a free link to download our guide. And no, we won’t bombard you with junk mail. Or memos on how you need to clean out the refrigerator.

 

 

What’s Jeanne Goldie up to now? And why should I read this blog?

Jeanne_GoldieI’m a “Start it Up” or “Turn it Around” plug-in strategist for businesses. The person hired when a business wants to fix something that’s broken or create something entirely new. For the past twelve years I’ve worked in the Financial Services industry leading organizational strategy after doing similar work in the government and non-profit sector (NGO’s).   I’ve worked on projects as varied as redesigning public housing, historic preservation, tech start-up companies, insurance sales, opening an African American research library, and had a really wild stint as a wedding planner. (Yes, there is video).  Did I mention I was once an accountant as well? (No video of that – sorry).

All the opinions in this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect on my current employer. As a matter of fact, I will only be sharing one story from my current position, involving the desert, teambuilding and SPF 70.  You’ll know it when you find it. Otherwise they’re off limits.

Unfunded mandates, budget shortfalls, regulatory adventures, zero authority but total responsibility for results, I’ve lived them all and learned a few good lessons along the way.   I’ll share those here, and hopefully you’ll get some answers, not to mention a few laughs.  If you run a corporate department, a struggling non-profit, a family-owned business, a government agency whose policy direction changes with every election cycle or maybe you just got tasked with creating the strategic plan for your boss, this site is for you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re formally named the “Change Agent” or if you got the title by default. [Read more…]

© Jeanne Goldie 2015