I previously held a management position in a large business with many layers. I was privileged to be a part of meetings where change was discussed at high levels. Occasionally, I got to weigh in with my opinions to help higher up managers with their decisions. The final decisions were above and outside my circle of control. However, I was at least in a position where I could see the impact. I would try and make enough changes along the way to transition my team before the change was fully rolled out. Today, I am in a different ballgame and am finding ways to adapt to an undefined change in a business model.
Previous Experience in Implementing Change in a Business
In my opinion, one of the best ways to implement change in a business is to slowly plant the seeds. I could see the purpose of the change. It usually took about a year to make comments and different changes with staff assignments for the team to be fully transitioned.
The best approach was to ask an employee, “You know, I’ve been questioning why we do this? Do you think there is a better way?” Once you get their wheels turning, they often already have thoughts on the subject. “Yeah, if I had it my way, we would not be doing this, but could do this instead.” Then you could go from there and kind of tailor “their ideas” to be in line with the change you know is coming down the pipe.
When the change would finally roll out in random, all employee email, it was usually horribly written. One cannot determine how this change directly affects their job. Consequently, this may cause staff to scatter and freak out. However, I would take my staff aside and go over step by step how this change does not affect them. Then, I would highlight all the small changes we made over the year demonstrating we are already in alignment with this change.
Staff would feel more at ease. More importantly, they would often take pride when they remembered “their idea” made the change possible. Obviously, this was not the case every time a change occurred, but it definitely had the highest success and buy-in with the team.
The New Scenario
Information is power. Change can cause skepticism. I would like to think I was an awesome manager looking out for my team’s best interest. Whereas now, I find myself just another member of the team. I am not privileged to the conversations that have been taking place behind closed doors. I was a manager for so long, that I forgot (or never really knew) what it was like to be on the receiving end of change that may affect my job, in ways I don’t understand.
We were recently visited by the corporate leaders. I think a part of the visit was to check and see how we were coping after the suicide of a coworker, and the other reason business. During the meeting, I was put on the spot and asked a question about a process. I confidently answered. However, another manager disagreed that was not the current process, nor goal. Immediately, I felt about 2 inches tall and a total dummy.
After the meeting, I felt an overwhelming wave of emotions and questions. I have a reputation of being the s*** and a total rockstar, but I was just corrected? Am I really not aware of my surroundings and have been doing something completely incorrect? Then paranoia sets in. Was this person out to get me and make me look bad?
So What the Heck Happened?
Obviously, I am a perfectionist. Because of this, we default to taking the blame 100%. But is this truly the case? I reflected on the situation more and asked if I was provided enough information to do my job. The answer would be yes. I feel I have enough information to be successful in my job.
However, at the current moment of the meeting and type of question asked, the answer would be no. Because I have worn the high-up manager’s shoes, I feel that was a question from discussions that have occurred behind closed door meetings. A change. Trying to be implemented at different levels, and plinko-ing it’s way down on the board like in the Price is Right.
I did not come to this assumption right away. It took a good cry with the Mr. Defined Sight after work. A mommy/kid play date brain overload. A hot bath. 2 beers. And writing this article. I don’t blame current managers for not communicating enough. Or hosting more meetings and being transparent. Maybe that’s not their management style. Because I can share the burden, I’ll say maybe I didn’t make an effort to touch base enough and ask more questions.
Will I call out this manager and ask what the heck happened? I haven’t decided yet. Or, since this is a superior, I may wait and see if they bring it up with me. If anything, I will work it into an opportune time to take the lead and bring it up in my performance review.
Managers can influence staff a change was their idea by planting seeds over time and watching them grow. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to implement change in a business. However, based upon the situation, this may not always be an option. It may also not be a currently practiced management style.
Oh, and for those of you who are still wondering what happens the next time corporate leaders visit, you can be damn sure I’ll be pulling aside people beforehand and ensuring we are all on the same f’ing page. ~ insert strong arm emoji.
What’s your experience with implementing or adapting to a change in a business?