December 14, 2017

Archives for June 2013

Change in here comes before change out there

Woman reflectingWe won’t achieve change in an organisation or in the world at large until we put our own house in order, whatever that may exactly entail.

Our personal change work may well have a different form from what we perceive needs to happen in an organisation.

On the other hand…

When it comes to individual others, it’s probable the growth we see for them tells us something about what’s next for us. As Carl Jung said, we notice in others things we are not acknowledging in ourselves.

Either way…

We need to embark on our own change before we can expect anyone else to embark on theirs.

Role insecurity: Are you affected?

Group in discussion at a computerMost of us suffer from this at times, either on our own account, or indirectly when other people catch the affliction… We find ourselves justifying our involvement in a meeting or project, or making points to show our expertise, or maybe just to show we are present.

We fear we might be excluded from important decisions or left behind on the sidelines or simply squeezed out from having any further part to play.

We can call this role insecurity—a nasty condition in which we’re not confident our role is what we’d like it to be.

The thing is…

Many of our behaviours arising from insecurity about our role actually make the problem worse, because we inadvertently discourage others from involving us as much as we’d like. Talk too much and without sufficient purpose and others will tire of our presence.

Sure, we need to demonstrate our expertise but it’s much better to do that in a “show, don’t tell” way. Just “act as if” your role is as you would wish it to be, and make your value-adding contribution when the time is right.

And because of the effect of individual insecurity on the team, it’s good to help other people to do this, or put them at ease about their involvement.

Are you affected by role insecurity?

A strange combination of short-termism and inertia

Supertanker under wayI hadn’t thought of it quite like this before…

We’re used to the idea that bigger organisations tend to have more inertia than smaller ones. All other things being equal, it’s harder to turn a supertanker than a speedboat.

The thing is, there is another issue…

Larger organisations tend to more driven by the need to achieve short-term results.

So there’s a double effect…

Not only are big organisations slow to turn, they’re less likely to try to. No wonder things get out of kilter.

And change mainly comes through new companies.

A pity when bigger organisations have so many more resources.

Do you fight your influences?

Group in discussion at a computerThat might seem a strange question, but think about it: Do you resist the learning which comes from your influences?

Actually, I think, most of us do.

Because influence means change, and change means discomfort for our ego, we tend to push back on ideas that contribute to our learning, particularly the more profound ones.

In fact…

The more powerful (and important and valuable) the influence, the more likely we are to resist it, at least at first.

Patience, therefore, is something we usually require in the people who influence us.

But perhaps we can learn to be more open. Perhaps we can learn to notice when we are resisting an influence. Perhaps we don’t need to fight it.

How about you? How open are you to the people who influence you?

Once you’ve decided what matters…

Man thinking…everything else doesn’t matter.

We know the benefit of clarity well enough: Getting clear about what matters in a relationship of any kind, or any other context, means we can focus our energies in the most effective way. Once we’ve decided what’s most important, we can concentrate on that.

All pretty familiar.

At least as usefully though, great swathes of less important matters can be ignored once we know—truly know—what’s most cared about, by ourselves or by other people.

And so we can take all that saved energy and apply it in the most important place, or to the most important relationship.

As Henry David Thoreau wrote, if we are not careful, “Our lives are frittered away by detail.”

Sometimes the benefit of knowing what matters flows as much from what we don’t do as what we do do.

Acting hard—a good idea?

Woman making an emphatic pointAn organisation wonders if it has a particular problem with stress—more than is typical…

I ask whether the employees believe management cares about them, really wondering to what degree that is true. The response “Oh no, we wouldn’t want that” was so striking to me that I still wonder if my contact was half-joking. But even if he was joking, he was, as I say, only half-joking.

The same organisation has a culture where acting hard and tough seems to be seen as a good thing to do, or expected.

Now of course hard decisions need to be made. Let’s take that as read—and, funnily enough, real toughness might well work as a culture—but pretending to be hard when you’re not?

There’s a cause of stress for employees right there.

To pretend not to care when you do… I don’t see much upside in that for a manager unless it really is a rewarded behaviour. And then the culture is off.

I believe it’s quite possible (and beneficial) to be tough or demanding and care at the same time, and to let people see that.

But a fake hardness? A drag on the organisation, I reckon. Care deliberately withheld sounds pretty stressful to me.

What do you think?