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Hot girls in tight pink t-shirts giving massages. Bright pink stand. BIG TV screen. Unless you were there, I am sure you didn’t think “Must be the Learning Technologies Exhibition!” But it was and just in front of the stand that we shared with our good friends Roam Solutions
This was my first time to an LTE (or #LT11UK in the twittersphere) and it was very interesting indeed. Not least the girls in tight pink t-shirts.
What struck me was that there were a number of people talking about mobile learning, but as one person I conversed with said “There are many talking about it but no-one has really deployed anything.” Of course, that was true until he came to our stand and saw our capabilities.
Now we’re not going to be able to compete with hot girls in pink t-shirts, but we did have some very excellent conversations on mobile learning and even have a few meetings already arranged for follow-up. The marketing hype is all good fun but good conversations based on your strong offering will do considerably more for your business than hot girls in tight pink t-shirts.
p.s. I apologise sincerely that I didn’t take any pictures of the said girls.
But what if we were honest with ourselves, our colleagues, our team and our managers and instead said ‘Got 15?’. As Tim explained so powerfully in the ‘Reel Change’ video, you really don’t need more than 15 minutes to achieve a fruitful discussion.
When people know that you are only going to take 15 minutes rather than a proverbial 5, you will notice:
- The meeting starts with a positive, not negative frame of mind.
- People are engaged in the meeting, not worrying about when it might end
- You are able to have more discussions that are more productive
- Overall productivity increases as people aren’t stuck in meetings all day!
The next time you want a team discussion, ask for 15 and stick to it. The more you do that, the more impact it will have on you and your team.
This video by Tim Clague is a very simple idea that can make team meetings a whole lot more bearable, help you be even more productive this year and avoid that ‘headless chicken’ syndrome.
As team leader your job isn’t just to get individuals to Accept that change is coming. You need to Help them to plan and prepare for that change.
People often have a vague (sometimes even a clear) idea of where they are headed. Change often throws them off course or even blocks a road they thought they were going to go down.
Your job in the Help stage is to remap with the individual. A mass e-mail on ‘change management’ is about as appropriate at this stage as a bicycle is to a drowning man.
Get people to talk about the map that they had planned out. Talk about what the future might look like. They might decide they want to go somewhere completely different. Talk about how they might get there and what tools they might need.
Make sure each individual has a clear plan of action. This will make sure they feel confident, cared for and ready for the change ahead. And that’s where you want your team to be.
The patient listening, hand-holding, tissue-box buying, and gentle re-assurance finally pays off. People start to accept the fact that the change is going to happen, that it isn’t quite the monster they thought it would be and in fact, it might even turn out to be a good thing for them.
Some might be vocal advocates of the change. Others will tend to ponder it internally. You need to encourage the advocates to spread the good cheer, and continue to dialogue with those who are quiet to ensure that they don’t slip back a stage or two.
Don’t try and rush through this stage. It is foundational for all that is coming.
Now that the person has moved past the initial Shock, and the Anger they will start to Reject the impending change.
Rejection is different from anger because it is characterised by objections based on logic and reasoning. They might start to query the decision makers’ poor information, one-sided perspectives or even unfair motivations.
They will create complex arguments as to why the change should not happen, often citing how badly it will effect other people. They may even put forward their own ‘helpful’ solutions based on ‘research’ (usually around the water cooler, of course).
At this stage it is important that you, as a team leader, have the facts. Often you will be implementing change that has not been your decision. But if you are implementing it, you need to
- know the facts well
- be clear on the rationale and
- stress that the decision is unchangeable.
Now is not the time to say ‘my hands are tied’ or ‘it’s them up there’ and so on. Now is the time to put faith in the decision your leaders have made, and stand strong. If you’re team think that you are weak and simply ‘giving in’ to pressure from above, you will lose credibility and respect. Not only will they reject the change, but they will reject you as their leader and that is a lot harder to overcome.
Once people are over the initial shock of a sudden or major change then often they will become angry. This can be because:
- They don’t want change (not many of us do!)
- They think it will cause them harm of some kind
- They don’t feel those enforcing the change have the right to do so
Some of your team will have a short, sharp burst of anger and then move on. Others might just allow it to fester quietly and express it around the proverbial water cooler.
However the anger is expressed, the key is to listen. Arguing to convince them that it is the right thing to do will be detrimental. At this stage they are led by irrational fears, which arguing will do little to quell.
Listen actively by asking follow-on questions, allowing them to express themselves but within set parameters e.g. they aren’t allowed to level personal attacks. It isn’t helpful to anyone if they start having a ‘right go’.
Once they have expressed their feelings then simply and gently restate why the change is occurring and how you can both help make the process smoother and have a better outcome.
The ‘S’ in the SARAH model refers to ‘Shock’.
This may come in varying degrees, depending on how sudden or major the change really is. If the grapevine has been flowing with talk of impending change then it may reduce the shock factor once the change is more formally announced.
However, this is no reason to hope that the grapevine mitigates the shock. In fact, allowing the grapevine to disseminate information about impending change is a bad idea. You no longer have control over what is said, you can’t respond to people’s reactions and you might as well not be reading about the SARAH model!
People in shock will respond with extreme emotion – whether very loud or very quiet. The way to help overcome is:
- re-iterate the big picture – let them know it isn’t a personal vendetta
- be empathetic by acknowledging how they feel – this will get loud people to quieten down and quiet people to express their feelings.
- reinforce that you are there to work through this time with them
- stress that change is often a positive thing even if we can’t see it at the moment
The key to managing change is understanding people. Knowing how people react to change will help us bring them through the change to a better place.
Elizabeth Kuebler Ross did some work on the subject of death & dying (rather her than me). Her research showed that people often went through different stages in dealing with the death of a loved one.
Although we hope you don’t work your team to death, the Kuebler Ross research has been adapted for the workplace in order to help people through times of sudden or major change.
Next week we shall look at the Sarah Model – the stages that people can often go through when faced with sudden or major change, and how you can help them through each stage.
It is the old cliché that the only thing constant is change. Sometimes we don’t mind change. My wife, for example, has to have a new hair style every month. Trying to implement change at work however is nothing but guarantee that there’s going to be a few bad hair days.
So if we can’t stop or avoid change we can either:
a. Delay change – if you are a team manager you can pretend that things will somehow get better if you just leave them as they are. Of course, you can try and drive on a punctured tyre but it isn’t going to fix and inflate itself.
b. Manage change – accept change is coming, prepare yourself and your team for it and implement it. Done right you’re changing tyres like a Formula 1 pit-stop crew (although it might take a wee bit longer than 6 seconds).
Although change means you will have to get your hands dirty, in the next few posts, we’ll share a couple of models that will help you manage change effectively.