Let me start off with 2 true anecdotes—
The foot soldier scout ran in foaming from the mouth and breathless to the General’s tent and screamed “ SirrrJee, we have been surrounded from all directions!!”
“Excellent” cried the visibly relieved General ( well- known for his mighty valor and non- existent brains ) jumping up from his chair and twirling his waxed moustache . “ We shall attack in all directions !!!”.
Digression: This poor General’s promotion was blocked after a furore caused by his comment in a seminar on Strategy for Change . “ In Mahabharat, Dushasan should have stopped pulling the endless sari of Draupadi and lifted it up instead!!” . After that incident where he was nearly lynched by his own soldiers, he developed a phobia when it came to stretching his brains.
In the 1983 World Cup semi-finals , Team India were tottering at the brink of defeat against Zimbabwe with all the batsmen back at the pavilion . The Captain of the team Kapil Dev ( essentially a pace bowler ) waded in into the field , smote the cricket ball in all directions , sent the hapless opposition on a leather hunt , scored a stupendous 183—a world record—and took India to an astonishing victory. After the match –at the mandatory press conference , the inevitable question was posed about “how he handled the tremendous pressure and what was his strategy”. The world was all ears for a few pearls of wisdom which could possibly sway future MBA and Business School management methods –the way Lalu Prasad Yadav has done recently with Indian Railways . Now, a Cricket game is not won by skills alone, the thinking cap of the Captain is all important. Kapil retorted “what preyyure! ( read that as pressure ) no preyyure!! —he did not think! , he just swung just his bat in all directions— le dhannnadhun de dhanndun.
Aaha! Now I have your attention---
This piece is based on my experiences as a Master of ships in EMS starting from Sichem Pearl, behind a mouse pushing desk at EMS Singapore office often doing coaching interviews, and recently on board a new acquisition Stainless Steel Chemical tanker Sichem Copenhagen as a Manager of Change —(where I took my scalar wave EM howitzer along , switched on psychotronic mode—just in case the pseudo resistors made me miss my deadlines—)
Digression:--Sceptics , please go to Google search and punch in “scalar waves” and see how many million hits you gets. Scalar waves emitted by Uri Geller in Gorbachov’s head caused Perestroika and the disintegration of the mighty Soviet empire, Sai Baba uses Scalar waves on his teeming millions -- The Third world war will be won with psychotronic war fare, scalar waves and EMPs’.
All those who identify with the mindless dhannadun approach ---must now stop reading this NOW—lest they overheat their grey matter and fall into a tizzy. This piece on CHANGE is solely for the thinkers who has made this world a better place to live in.
A thesis would be too long—what I have presented is a few tips.
Darwin said that it is not the species with the greatest strength nor the one with the highest intelligence that survives, but one that is most adaptable to change ( cockroaches are adaptable , poor extinct dinosaurs were not ) . This is as true of all businesses, including shipping, as it is to living things, if new customer demands are ignored or not taken seriously.
Change is the only constant we live with. It has been continuous since the beginning of time. 98% of all knowledge has been accumulated in the last 50 years—think about it.
Change today happens very fast. It is a way of life today and is an ongoing process. Our lives are filled with both predictable and unpredictable transitions. Traditionally change was a short burst of disruption followed by a long plateaus of stable operations. Today there are no longer any rest periods, change is continuous and enormous. The innovators change first, the diehards change last. The people who cannot change are the “casualities of war”.
Without careful management, change can become a business nightmare, when new structures and processes are imposed without enough forethought. Change then becomes an unfocused, indefinite time of turmoil. Having started without direction and continued without focus or competent monitoring, it ends with a whimper when those involved can go no further. There is a limit to the number of storeys you are going to add to your outdated skyscraper. Every business which wants to grow must understand growing pains. Growth can lead to problems if the organization is not set to cope up with ways of doing things, that were perfect at the time it was created – but grossly inadequate or inappropriate later on.
Change management is a new skill. The ability to manage change is an essential skill for all decision makers. I have been long advocating including this subject in our EMS seminars , so far only Risk Management has been forth coming.
Change encourages innovation . There is a difference between creativity and innovation. Creativity looks at options and generates ideas. Innovation takes an idea and develops it into a practical application. Innovation requires some change in behaviors, processes and functions.
It is no big secret that the most successful companies proactively look for opportunities to change rather that it being forced upon them. Proactive action reinforces the impression of control and understanding. This can restore faith in the organizations collective ability and willingness to change and motivate people for further change and improvement. Caution can look like weakness and indecision. Proactive change is characterized by seeking out reasons for change rather than waiting for them to arise. Major benefit of changing proactively is that you have more time-- one of the key secrets of Time Management. Planning in advance gives you much more flexibility over options, priorities , resources and time scales. At the extreme of reactive change is to respond to a crisis situation. In a well managed business most internal crisis should be known before they occur. Resist the temptation to view persistent problems as isolated incidents.
What are the symptoms for the need for change—creative people instead of generating ideas and revenue are wasted in firefighting--people spending quality time working around impractical business systems, low morale, innovative ideas not being generated, culture at odds with what is required for the business environment. Managers who lack the skills and perspectives to move forward are literally the arsonists who are guilty of lighting fires. Such individuals interpret business culture to meet their own selfish needs. If you cure symptoms rather than the causes, then the change effort is a quick fix that fails to address what is really troubling the business. The reason for change needs to be presented in order to generate commitment to the change effort
In the brilliant book –Who moved my cheese—Dr Spencer says—
CHANGE will happen
adapt to change quickly
be ready to change again and enjoy yet again
In my vision for the next century I see that all shipping companies will include a para in their company policies about willingness to change --- and proactively change again if things do not work out –about keeping up the ante , looking for constant evolution and new change opportunities to take advantage of ----to be farsighted and to give a strategic orientation towards change-- to have a culture that is based on action, not statements of intent or lip service—to gain mastery over change and avoid being its victim, so that the company shapes its future rather than Change bending the company out of shape.
Now what is a vision?
A vision is a clear idea for the future that acts as a fulcrum for all change efforts. Vision is a sense of how it will look when it works . It should not be a management fantasy, slogan or platitude. Good visions act as useful guides and inspiration. Use your mind to envision the outcome of change. Vision makes you aware of the opportunities of change and helps release your energy. Personal vision acts as an anchor during change. As we become more change hardy, our stability comes from the inside and outside changes become less disruptive. It is important to imagine as positive a vision as you can. The way our minds work is that our actions tend to follow our thoughts. If you see a dim unattractive future vision, you are more likely to end up in that situation. That is why in gymnasiums they keep posters of muscular guys like Arnold Schwartznegger and not our big bottomed and tuft tittied Bollywood heroes of yester year .
Be careful of what you imagine ( or wish for ) it just might just come true. You can be honest with yourself and have negative visions because you don’t have enough information or resources. Don’t stay stuck—reach out. Promote desired outcomes by internal programming of vision. Re frame, look at the situation differently, see challenge, see opportunity, go around limits. Obstacles to change have to be confronted rather than accepted if change has to succeed. Many of the extraordinary things ordinary people achieve begin with a vision that inspires and empowers them.
Even re branding say from TESMA to EMS, is a major change. Re branding without any effort to make even a subtle change is such a waste of a rare opportunity. An internal culture that starts out as a key strength can if not changed when the time is right end up being a supremely powerful constraint on the business . The owner/ Charterer is increasingly expecting more, vetting inspectors are splitting hairs--—this is not the time to be inward and backward looking. Check out what invisible or cultural factors are keeping the company where it is. Remember, the drivers for change come from outside the business while drivers for stability come from within. Generating awareness of the need to change involves shifting the focus to outside the business or seeing yourself as others see you. Every business which wants to grow must understand growing pains.
Change can look risky—gambling valuable resources when the need to conserve them is paramount. Doing nothing is always a low risk option. To avoid having a car accident, don’t go for work—sit at home and pray!. Delaying change for a while and carrying out with business as usual can seem appealing. Inaction will have its grave consequences. Every organization will have complacent managers who are essentially time servers who bed down for the long haul to retirement and who will fight change tooth and nail. They will be centered around the business culture of conservatism and risk aversion.
Some companies long history of success made people complacent , and no introspection was made to sense the urgent need for change—like the Scindias who were in a general dry cargo fantasy world of dunnage and hessian separation cloth. Major changes to an organizations culture requires people to let go of of how it was and move through a period of doubt and uncertainty. It is no longer possible to remain a caretaker set in your sweet ways.
Creative people will quit if they are unable to find a rewarding role for themselves within the business. In any case many good people would rather leave a sinking ship— if they are financially vulnerable and have themselves and their families to take care of, after all charity begins at home. Today's lives are less predictable. There are no companies left where a parcel chemical Master (who has the sword of first foot failure dangling above on his head, and who is judged by his last singular performance ) , can expect to receive his gold watch.
Change is as much about people as it is about plans.. Deal with change as a matter of heart as well as the head. The knock on effects of sweeping technological changes has to be weathered. Basic values may change—a company that once valued strict procedures and tradition may shift towards valuing independence and new vistas. There has to be less hands on control, and more bridging.
At EMS the Master’s 6 monthly review must have a compulsory para about “change”— a review is not about Masters pointing out spelling mistakes in company manuals and revision number errors. Change experiences must be rolled out to the organization as a whole by means of news letters and seminars. Reward communication and knowledge sharing between ships, departments and teams. Change provides an excellent opportunity to rethink job descriptions to make them more meaningful. Procedure manuals have to be rewritten, operations have to be revamped.
Flat structures while useful in enabling innovation may bring problems in terms of a fragmented culture or even a conflict between team loyalty and company loyalty—say--Tech 2 vs Tech 3.
Crisis mentality can make good change management very difficult. Hence the reason we like predictive maintenance instead of breakdown maintenance on chemical tankers. The desire to find a solution quickly moves the emphasis from long term strategic thought to short term tactical solutions that may harm the future of the business. The need for swift focused unambiguous action makes it more likely that change will be non participative. The heat of the moment can make big bang transformational changes more appropriate that what they really are.
Formal education is increasingly in need of constant updating. Big companies now retrain their workers every 3 years because their previous skills become terribly obsolete. The tech skills learnt at college or on the job become obsolete, no set of skills stay useful forever during change Making changes work for you will require learning, being open to new directions and knowing how to say hullo and goodbye to positions and situations professionally. It is more important to understand how to learn than to know a particular set of skills.
Their culture is based on action, not statements of intent or lip service. A 21st century manager is a tight rope artist who keeps the business running smoothly through the change process , balancing the need for radical change with the necessity for continuity.
Anticipating change means you can position yourself to be ready for new developments before they happen, so that decisions are based on facts not comfortable assumptions. Focus on those at the sharp edge of the business to remove any barriers or buffers that may evolve between decision makers and competitive realities. Avoid focusing solely on internal realities which can often reinforce existing ideas , instead look to the outside world. Change is the catalyst for new directions.
Sextants, Morse , Nories tables and typewriters have given way to DGPS ,Inmarsat and Bluetooth computers . Digression:-- In the British parliament they still resist change--they still stand up at unstable GM for a second to cry “ hear hear” and fall back in a heap on to their antique dull green plastic seats—lest his neighbour steals his elbow space—tee hee .
Change can cover a broad spectrum. It can be unexpected, sudden, unsettling especially if new technology is introduced or it can be welcome and planned. Many traditional standards of security in the workplace are disintegrating. I remember the state of an old radio officer when a pioneer Satcom C was first fitted on my ship—he had one cursory glance at the bulky MS DOS book which came along free , started sweating, and nearly fainted—thinking he will have to mug up the whole book. In the past security came from not taking chances or rocking the boat. Now paradoxically security comes from being at the edges . Create your own security by being in touch with the change. Creative people determine their own security. An effective response to change involves several skills and some new attitudes.
Managing change is no frivolous task , it is very complex. A qualified and respected Change Manager has to make critical inputs into change planning, continuity planning and the process of embedding change. Such a culturally significant change anchor may have a decisive influence over the way change is perceived by others. People approach them to seek reassurance on the viability of change and their buy in is crucial. If he does not buy in the other wont either—say Passivity meter over Palladium chloride.
If the change is driven by executive ego of holy cows --not business need , this ego powered change wont last. Remember, time spent on change cannot be spent on real work—something I discovered the hard way on Sichem Copenhagen , while I was the Manager of Change. Fast big bang changes are called creative destruction—we have this vetting to do , make the change happen el pronto!! The cost of creative destruction by concentrating uncertainties into a short time frame can be very high in human terms . The change process can end up being so traumatic . –the operation was a grand success –but excuse please—the patient died.
Change is stress less only for the mindless. Change planning must be rooted in reality. Many change efforts fail because the Change Manager was not realistic about the constraints and obstacles that threaten change. Too often companies invest considerable time energy and money in making a good decision about what to change. And that is it!!!. They think their good deed is done. Hey, what about some investment to building involvement and commitment to that nice decision. Short sharp shock changes however effective will not build commitment for future change. Change should therefore be a normal part of management rather than an exceptional situation. The world does not fear a new idea. What it fears is a new experience. This can affect your your emotions especially your feelings about yourself. Change demands energy. Hours of worry will drain your energy.
Change is uncomfortable as we stop having same thoughts and feelings— we stop making the same chemicals which sends the body into a state of homeostatic imbalance. We do not feel like the same person again. Our body wants to identify with known associations.. it tries to influence the brain to return to a recognizable state of being so that the body can recalibrate itself with past feelings.
Leaders evolve processes and attitudes that withhold information from the troops , partly to magnify their own perceived importance, for knowledge is power . Or it could be partly because of a sense that a little learning is a dangerous thing. But once people have the power that comes from knowledge they can use it to support change. It is a matter of trusting people to make the right choice. Once when I had to revive an unconscious (chemically) victim on deck , the second mate came a cropper—it was the Cook who could administer the Oxygen resuscitator. While appearing risky this type of approach actually reduces the risks of change by getting commitment upfront.
Coercing people into supporting change by insisting that it is necessary will not have this effect—any minor setbacks during the change will serve to confirm people’s suspicions that change was never necessary in the first place. Prevent it from becoming a banal insistence that we are all in this together. During change top management avoid communicating or seeking bad news because it is difficult for them to admit that they did not know. They become afraid to take risks , be innovative or try new things. Change has always challenged people in power.
Change has to be anchored culturally. It has to be rooted in shared values not just shared hierarchies and processes—it has to become the way we do things around here. It is not the changes to plans , procedures and hierarchies that are most difficult to implement for the Manager of Change—it is the changes in peoples minds.
Making a major change which is OVERDEPENDENT on unreliable and incompetent manpower is a big risk.!!!!!—read this line twice--
Changing proactively makes planning easier. The aim has to be defined or there is no way to tell when success has been achieved. Remember there is no finish line in the race for quality. To have more than one goal is to have no goal at all. If multiple aims are unavoidable they must be consistent with one another, because any conflict between them will sooner or later lead to conflict between the people tasked with achieving them. The next vital step in planning change is to decide the boundaries of change. Essentially this means deciding its scope—what is gonna change and what isn’t— ( like the misunderstood scope para in company manuals—Ha!!). Many change efforts quickly become messes or are messy from the outset. As a result they lose momentum or fail to address the problems they were intended to solve. This negatively affects attitudes and perceptions of people
Now let us get to the nitty gritty—
Check out the Tarzan swing across 4 distinct phases—unless you get all the way to the other side, you slip back and re-experience the loss, anger , chaos , uncertainty and frustration. I recently went on board a stainless steel chemical tanker as a CHANGE MANAGER. My briefing orders at EMS office was a terse “ convert donkeys to race horses” . Communication was all the more difficult as none in the crew list , had learnt English in school or past work fields. On the first day after a cursory round I wrote numbers 1 to 4 on a crew list against each name. The Master was keen to know why he had the number 1 against him along with Chief officer , Third Mate and a few others , while Second mate and Cook had 4 , Chief engineer had 3 and all the rest had 2 . ( later I had to grease the vines and forcibly reverse swing the Cook back to 1—lest he be the proverbial casualty of war. )
(1) DENIAL PHASE
It is an amazing psychological defence mechanism. The denial stage can be longer if employees are not encouraged to register their reactions . People see themselves as victims of change , and their undivided attention is focused on what they cant control. Expressing feelings is what helps employees to change . When a change is proposed , people focus on their own responsibilities, relationships and problems. Viewing a change from this perspective , they may not perceive the need for it. Closed cultures where the response cannot be shared will prolong the phase. Performance will be affected directly in proportion to the magnitude of the change. People show different types of responses. Mental and emotional signals are often harder for people to identify— unless the CM knows body language for noticing these signals. Don’t ignore them. They are all important. One set influences the other like overlapping circles. Moving through change is never smooth or painless. Even the most welcome exciting change demands some letting go or contains some difficult situations. The life phase ( where you are in your life cycle ) has a lot to do in your way of approaching change. Letting go of the old way is a kind of death for the old timers who would rather drop comfortable anchor till retirement . The path through change is rarely smooth or predictable. The first need is to recognise the need for change and let go of old ways. It is often an emotional struggle. Create a strategy for getting through the transition. Pessimistic thinking or limiting beliefs encourages people to give up before they start—I cant do this—I cant change. When people think in negative ways they tend to act in ways that will not get them where they want. People trapped in their limiting beliefs are people who become victims of change. The opposite of limiting beliefs is empowering beliefs—ways to look at the future in a positive light—change is normal, there is always a better way, I can make a difference, I can learn to do this --. People who look at change with attitudes of possibility are looking for new ways to do things and seeking new skills. Remember, too many objectives will create anxiety and lead to poor performance
Some not so bright managers think that by ordering employees to change in a harsh way like a drill sergeant they will. They do not realize how upsetting it is to give up work patterns that are familiar and that time is required to adjust. The response to such a mindless order will be a as follows--
Signs and symptoms on people in denial mode:---
Respond with silent terror
Feeling of being out of control, powerless or unable to help themselves.
Fear of the unknown, sense of threat.
Fear of failure
“The pain will outweigh the gain”
Activity without results.
Feeling of loss that an important part of life is lost.
Emotional distress due to abandoning of comfort zone and past quality experience loss..
Embarrassment due to of lack of knowledge—now all will know what a pretender I really am.
Crisis of confidence
Pretend it is not happening and everything is as usual.
BOHICA syndrome—“bend over, here it comes again”, let’s wait till it blows over.
“No big deal”, when in fact it is a damn big deal.
Refuse to hear new information.
Lose sense of belonging to a team.,
Change fatigue from past misdirected Change efforts, where he was a helpless victim
Motivation sags—retires from the job waiting for THEM to decide how things will be..
“Threat to our competence
Difficulty to open up, explore the world and themselves
Loathe to take chances as learners.
Burn out and frustration grow due to undue focus on what cannot be controlled.
Wasting valuable energy bemoaning the loss of old ways .
Unable to focus on how to do new things .
Handling people in denial mode:--
It is about uncovering the “want to” factor. Explain what to expect and suggest actions to adjust fast . Ignorance is bliss does not work when change has to occur . Keep your perspective and sense of humour. There is little need to trick them or force them as almost all want to do a good job . Raising the heat is about generating perceptions of the need to change, and waking them up to the fact that the current situation is absolutely untenable. Don’t try the hardsell or show your hand in this denial stage to give people something to push against. For the change Manager group interests come first—while for masses their individual interests come first . Change managers MUST acknowledge loss that has occurred and not pretend it is business as usual. Caring and supportive confrontation can help a person to change.
What helps people navigate through unknown territory is a map of what they can expect , INFORMATION on ways to respond to predictable challenges
Deal with it—move your employees fast through the denial stage.
Let them know that change WILL happen , why change is necessary.
Show that the top management given a clear consistent message supporting the change.
Confront individuals with information .
Build awareness of the need and impact of change.
Give opportunity to ask questions.
Shape your communications to --what does it mean for me?
Focus on current batting averages and trends --not on glorious past averages.
Issue written memos after a one on one as people are hard of hearing when it comes to information which disturbs their security.
Challenge assumptions that past success is a permanent attribute of the company. Share negative information on what people are saying about the company.
Firmly advise stonewallers --“drop your ego”. Send a strong signal that those who assist it are valued within the management .
Make them believe that it promises an improvement in the status quo. The burden of proof that change can be trusted lies with the prosecution—not the defence.
Admitting that mistakes have been made in the past may be an important first step towards getting “change fatigued” buy-in.
People’s own priorities and frames of reference may make it difficult for them to see the need for change. There is a good chance that people with a make or break influence over the change will not be receptive to it. This makes persuasion a key change management skill. Effective persuasion is not about defeat or manipulation –it is about negotiation and enabling doubting Thomases and leading them into agreement without that win-lose feel. Persuasion takes time and effort because it is based on understanding –not coercion and hence is powerful. Four key components of persuasions are—establish credibility—point to your own experience and expertise, frame goals on common ground, vividly reinforce your position for emotional impact, connect emotionally—don’t misjudge the mood and get lynched , watch your tone. ( how come Vadakayil has not been lynched yet? Beats me! --- tee hee ) There has to be agreement over ends and agreements over the means too.
Often key individuals have the power to make or break a change effort through their support indifference or opposition. So it is vital to get to grips with who these people are and how they are likely to affect the change.
If the big picture is changing as it will when major change is in the air, people need to understand this wider context so that they can relate their own situation to it.
Many feel upset about saying goodbye to the familiar. Let them feel the loss. Then make them let go and move on. A new way is not to be judged as better/ worse or right/ wrong. They are simply new and need to be learned practiced and judged on their merits.
Often , it will not be made public why a fiat was made or why something has to be done the way it is for all to evaluate. During such change things are NOT going to return back to normal, because there is no normal to go back to. You will just waste precious time that could have been spent learning new skills. There is never enough time , so don’t throw away the time you have.
Some bad Change Managers encourage the team to be in the denial mode as it is easier to manage—for the next phase can be read bad for the dhannadun leader who lacks grey matter and communication skills.
(2) RESISTANCE PHASE
Resistance requires some understanding of the change and can occur only after the denial stage has passed This phase is the most difficult phase for the Change Manager. Resistance is a rational way for a person to protect himself from overload or harm to self interest. It is thus a positive attribute of self preservation and defence. It should be recognised as an asset and accorded certain status. Don’t suppress resistance or avoid it. Allow release of steam before you start building a response. Resistance brings to the surface problems ( like slag in the metallurgical process ) to solve that help overcome unaccounted for difficulties in the change process. There is no need to create a guilt for expressing it.
Signs and symptoms on people in resistance mode:---
Rising personal distress levels..
Culture of cynicism
Doubting their ability to survive the change
Afraid they will look foolish
Projecting blame on others--issues kicked about in a culture of blame
Stubbornness , deadlocking
Mourning the past more than preparing for the future.
Withdrawal from the team
Lower productivity. The worst part and most difficult type of resistance is passive –aggressive behavior or people pretending to cooperate. Selfish hidden agendas .
Foot dragging. Doing only what can be measured.
“It aint my job”,--out and out opposition
Sabotage through sloppy performance
A feeling of a need to lash out at someone
“We make the sacrifices and then will be cast aside”
“Changes will be cosmetic not fundamental”
Every one under attack and no one dares to be innovative
Backbiting, griping , bad mouthing.
“The Change Manager will disengage when things go wrong, he cant walk his talk”
Complaining including about tools.
Believing outlandish stories.
Feeling of frustration –“there is no choice”
“Change is imposed from above and we have to lump it -- our opinions are not valued”.
Handling people in resistance mode:--
Resistance is a sign that the group has left the denial phase and are ready to move through the change.
It shows the human self defence mechanism is beginning to take over and hence is an important step in recovery. NEVER EVER take resistance personally.
Surface the resistance. There is no commonsense in denying the resistance. It will just make it go deeper and last longer. Invite it, honour it, make it safe to express resistance by assuring the resistor that he will not be victimized. Ask clarifying questions and make sure you understand the concerns. Make no attempt to interrupt , state your position, sell , reason or imply that the resistance is invalid while it is being explained. Don’t try to talk people out of their feelings. Disagreement is a major contributor to development of alternatives. Without a full range of alternatives an inappropriate decision may occur. . Don’t try to complete the process too quickly. Don’t put too much effort into debating small points of implementation and resource at this stage”—leave aside mistakes in commas and semi-colons.
Ignoring culture is not a bright thing to do—it may be advisable to present new directions as building on past efforts , rather than a revolution. Cultural changes are not optional changes to be considered as an after though, they are an integral part of the change management. Culture is the character of a business—“ it is the way we do things around here”. Culture exists in people minds and in the relationships they form with their colleagues which find expression and manifestations elsewhere in work. These are unwritten rules, customs and conventions as opposed to their official equivalents. It includes the way peoples territories are defined and marked. It is about attitudes to long hours, how people identify to each other and their team, the large picture.
Culture is often most keenly felt by those visiting a business for the first time ( all notice and feel the suppository entrance of EMS Spore office, where either there is a yellow faced toilet cleaner on the ground floor or people lounging around smoking at the top floor—when they should be working ) .
No culture is inherently good or bad, each has its place. A mercenary culture while often a tough place to work may be right for those who focus on short term results rather than happiness at the workplace. Changing a culture is extremely difficult –if culture is preventing growth or development then CHANGING CULTURE to move forward is a must.
As a last resort change structure, to change culture.
Explore the resistance. Differentiate between authentic resistance and pseudo-resistance.
Resolve conflict. There is a big difference between disruptive conflict and constructive conflict. . Conflict and debate can be a positive force in reaching a sound decision. Sound decisions are the goal of adaptation to change. Differences of opinion should be welcomes since they provide the opportunity for creative constructive discussion that can throw up new options. Inaccurate assessment and hasty decisions does not address real problems
Acknowledge feelings-- there is no need to agree but acknowledge them.
Articulate dissatisfaction at status quo.
Encourage and support good 2 way communications-- hotlines ,
Verify if feelings match actions
Give personal reassurance
Be patient ..
Hold rituals to say goodbye—it is not a immature thing to do.
Discourage politics by dealing with issues in group settings –not one on one
Go for quick wins. Changes that will demonstrate themselves in a tangible positive highly visible way early on should be prioritised—to show that a difference is being made , to bring a sense of partial closure, to show that part of the change has been achieved and recorded and that it cannot be undone—reason why I keep sending so may sitreps or ask for Johnsons polish or toilet flushes. It may be worth making some sacrifices in terms of practicality or time scales in order to achieve a quick win. Beginning a project is not a quick win—it has to be a concrete highly visible and completed collective achievement. It does not fall into the category of it might have happened anyway.
There will be diehards who still deny the need for change in the face of all evidence, hence the CM raising the heat must be tough and resilient on a personal level. In places where stability has become institutionalized and reactive management and shoving under carpet is the norm, raising the heat can be the only way to move forward. Articulate that poor performance is not tolerated, only the best will do. Emphasise the consequences of not changing
Allow for withdrawal and return of diehards who are temporarily resistant. Very few people are irretrievable, in my experience.
People never resist their own ideas. By involving them in the process about making decisions about change you can secure their active commitment to change or at least make it less likely that they will resist it. Without involvement in change negative perceptions can arise. I hold the “Tell Vadakayil” safe programme –for people to come forward with issues and new ideas. Horizons of responsibility/ interest will determine what they need to know. There is no need to tell the cook everything, just because he want to know every dang thing.
During change you may feel that you have only limited power to influence the outcome. When you feel this it is wise to find areas where you have direct influence.
You can influence the change progress if you can make suggestions, talk to others and add your input.
People will want to be stroked and offered reassurance that their status and position is not under threat. Once you are in touch with insecurities or fears you are halfway to creating the message they want to hear.
Change can sometimes shift a persons status in an organization. People highly respected before the change because of their skills , longevity, experience etc may suddenly be brought to par with new comers who have new skills or unique Sigloo / Chemical experience. The CM must be sensitive and aware of this sort of resistance from old timers who have influence in the group and are loathe to the upset of power balance. They wrongly believe that change is a form of criticism above the way things used to be done. They hope that benefits may result to them if they resist strongly to the change. However explore if any resistance is pseudo resistance. This type of resistance is rooted in deep grudges, resentment of authority, need for attention, plain jealousy etc. Ask what is your objection? What would you prefer? Remember , it is emotions that are not expressed that cause continuing heartache. Just because conflict was not given a chance to express itself—it will not disappear. It simply goes underground to reemerge in disguised forms and non productive ways. . Deal with pseudo resistance later unless it is blocking the change progress.
Quite often change managers who spend all the time talking in a meeting are afraid of hearing responses . Listening provides you with learning , messages , meanings , perspectives , intensity of response , emotional punches and feelings. Ask open ended questions—what do you think of this change?.
Quite often you find people moving back and forth between resistance and exploration—it is a crazy time for them. There are some open to new ideas but afraid to move forward.
(3) EXPLORATION / ADAPTATION PHASE
All emerge from negativity
People realize that they are going to make it through in one piece
Change is acknowledged , accepted and even welcomed
If unforeseen logistic or economic difficulties crop up in this stage the CM must not be scared to abort the change.
Signs and symptoms on people in exploration/ adaptation mode:---
Letting go of the old
All breathe a sigh of relief, shift into a more positive hopeful future focused phase,
Motivated to swing into action without first trying first to find the right way, This is a high period of energy and creativity will be at the peak.,
Learning new skills.
Brainstorming with others
Lots of energy and new ideas but lack of focus.
Developing sense of autonomy or self direction
Regain a sense of control over their destiny
Handling people in exploration adaptation mode:--
Plant the seed
Instill a sense of urgency
New ways of working needs to be explained.
Set short term goals.
Hold planning sessions.
Assist in problem solving.
Encourage independence and personal responsibility.
Players to know their individual parts perfectly. They must have the ability to see both the big picture and part of the situation.
Identify desirable behaviors that must be enabled and encouraged --what things must be changed before other things can be changed.
Leadership intervention at the right time to pre-empt and trouble shoot problems. Not everyone can be involved at the same level—but any involvement at a practical ( not planning ) level will help.
Recognise sacrifices and extra efforts. People will become cynical if it dawns upon them that their opinions were only sought to oil the wheels of change and are irrelevant thereafter.
Assist in pain free change
Newsletters, feedback to promote motivation—people who hear nothing usually fear the worst
Show people to learn how to learn, how to respond quickly and develop flexibility towards new demands.
Don’t let people become constrained by job descriptions if they can contribute more---let them voluntarily go where the problems are , when there is much to be done and not enough resources to do it.
Don’t settle for comfort.
People often get stuck in a failed situation—they do the same thing harder, louder, longer or stronger than before , even though it did not work. Often people would rather stay stuck than risk something new.
Your success at managing past changes you have just experienced provide insight about how you will manage future changes.
Celebrate your success for a nano scond and move on.
(4) COMMITMENT / INVOLVEMENT PHASE
They will become advocates of change rather than being resistant to it . People have adapted to the new situation. Commitment occurs when an employee pursues a specific goal in a consistent manner. Commitment and involvement are both necessary for successful installation of change. To understand the difference think of bacon and eggs. The chicken is involved-- the pig is committed. Employees will soon demonstrate a personal investment and sense of ownership to achieve the change. They will reject behaviors not compatible with implementing the change. Feel the climate of trust where all are encouraged to openly express ideas, opinions, disagreements and feelings and where the management welcomes questions.
Signs and symptoms on people in commitment involvement mode:---
Focus is now on new course of action.
Finding new balance and direction.
Encouraged to think and act creatively.
Better focus and planning.
Participation in change, initiate work on their own.
Belief in change.
Sense of value in work.
Passion in work
Handling people in commitment involvement mode:---
Getting through change demands collaboration. Directive style of low participation where leader is responsible for results is different from collaborative style of high participation, where the set standard or system is responsible for results. When time is of the essence , when you cant afford to make mistakes ( say a vetting inspection is round the corner ) do not use collaboration. A word of caution here. Constructive conflict occurs in an atmosphere of high team spirit and commitment to group goals. Disagreements stem from a sincere involvement with the common problem.
Set long term goals.
Concentrate on team building.
Remember, covering up poor performance simply extends the times the employees will be in distress.
Offer opportunities for team members to be part of making change work.
Encourage creative thinking, encourage employees to conduct meetings to enhance ownership of goals and to give space for fair solutions . The CM must leave the room is his presence is influencing the direction of problem solving.
Encourage employees to research, evaluate and make recommendations for adaptation.
Develop an action plan that allows for maximum productivity.
Actively create new customs that support the change.
Celebrate success and praise those who make change happen .
No face saving—if new venture fails to deliver the plug is pulled out or they get redesigned.
Adequate follow through is equally important to successfully implement a change Stop and think—how often do you stop your tennis or golf swing at contact point with the ball.
Provide complete and accurate information.
Rewards for participation and assistance. The team must have the ability to accomplish difficult and unpopular items.
Figure out the key player implications—there must not be any dependency on any key payer for success—he goes ashore to see the doctor and all goes PHUT.
Figure out the milestones that the change must harmonise with.
Technical and practical problems should be expressed diplomatically to avoid damaging commitment to change
By demonstrating realism about the possibility of failure coupled with concrete plans to deal with it could help to build commitment to change.
Set the right norms of conduct in the team.
Make reporting simpler and direct.
New change can emerge even before you have completed a previous one. It is commonplace to have several transition rhythms going on at the same time. Setting up milestones is about deciding what will happen when. Closely linked with prioritisation it is invaluable in getting to grips with far reaching changes to prevent them from being open ended , unfocused periods of undirected activity. Milestones should be defined both in terms of result and time scale. What would you like to have achieved at particular points in the future Reaching a milestone presents two important opportunities. The chance to celebrate and learn from change efforts so far, and the chance to redirect the change effort if it is drifting off course.. Identify the resources—what the change is likely to cost in broad terms. What has to be excluded till a particular milestone—or permanently.. who will be involved—the best people for the tasks required. Some immovable pillars have to be circumvented by flexible aspects of change
Change Management is like loading a ship in ballast to tropical load in dock water at even keel—includes deballasting ( reducing restraining forces ) , loading ( adding driving forces ) and trimming/ listing (changing direction of forces ).
It involves a new type of leadership—less as a controller and more as a coordinator , focuser , facilitator and intelligent delegator.
Change has affected policies , procedures, rules and roles. Authoritarian style of management has given way to participative management. The Authoritarian manager and hierarchical management structure is no longer effective. Forced change without grassroot support will have half hearted results
Change Management is one of the most demanding tasks in business. It requires the full range of management-- hard skills in planning, project management and analysis and soft skills in persuasion. Many efforts at transformation change because they neglect the human side of change. When the company became big, they forgot to preserve the feel of a small company.
Better to have a single good CM than having many managers arriving at a mutually agreed Lowest Common Denominator ways forward that dilutes the aims of the change by including only the most conservative and cautious options. Peripheral experts , those outside the normal loop of business can be helpful in bringing a more objective perspective to beliefs and assumptions
The change masters job is to move people through change easily. People who practice change management skills know how to reduce the stress of the change. He will not approach change as a mere technical project.
He understands the 4 phases of the change matrix, which tells him where to focus his energies. Sometimes he will move backwards to the transition curve to make progress. He understands that change usually occurs from the inside out and that it occurs at different rates for different individuals
A good Change manager can distance himself from the old guard by being warm and personal. He is ideally an individual without great formal authority who nevertheless wields huge influence over the business. He is not a official manager whose real world influence is negligible and who needs to refer to his mobile phone and notes at inopportune times . The CM must be a star who can make the masses buy , rather than a dull official time server , who can only sell. It is about who trusts whom and why? Who has the peoples respect? Who has the awe-inspiring potent mix of competence, field experience and knowledge. Now knowledge is something you hold inside your head—not on your google searched laptop computer or your library or database. Who is the real decision maker—not the official decision maker. Who can energise people through honest personal interactions ( after all nobody is stupid ) –not by one way official circulars ,letters and emails. Change is a collective effort where opinions are valued and acted on. Who can give a strong direction from above, steady the ship and plot this new safe course for new horizons. The most popular and effective CM are those who aim to work with human nature rather than against it. People will not resist change if the message of change is delivered through channels they like and people they respect, appeal to their curiosity and can answer all their questions on the spot with compelling narratives and can lead by example. Only his human self centred-ness will limit what can be conveyed .
A good CM has so much mastery over the subject that he can deliver mind pictures, can simplify concepts that are in reality highly complex in such a way that people can see through the complexity to the heart of what needs to change. He can pave the way for future change. Change is not about embedding specific aims, it is about establishing new attitudes and beliefs about change itself. Taking control and exerting influence are crucial aspects of change management. He has tact --the art of making a point without making an enemy. He can judge a man by his questions , not by his answers. Lot of people have good ideas , but they are not change masters for they do not have the capability to bring their ideas to the market place. He builds success in small steps.
He is alert to the possibilities of change on
body – exhaustion, stomach problems
mind—negative thoughts, confusion, forgetting details, lower productivity.
and feelings—depression, anxiety, frustration, fear ( natural byproduct ) , withdrawal.
Change masters continuously seek opportunities to learn. He has to be at the edge to receive new information. A CM must know body language secrets . He has to be a conflict resolver, resource allocator and information disseminator. He will not mistake verbal agreement for behavioral implementation. He must have the courage and stamina to implement the change. In addition to technical skills he needs process skills –people skills like empathy ( putting yourself in their shoes ) , communication and participation (getting people to participate ).Change requires decisions--lots of them . The CM must not be the type who cannot take a decision on his own without asking mummy.
He can surface and address peoples anxieties, which may be difficult in cross organizational communist cultures, characterized by rationality and emotional inhibition. He not only has to plot a realistic path but also has to mobilise hearts and minds through effective communication strategies. He will not ignore the receptivity, the interests, expectations and prior beliefs of the audience. He understands that compromise is a good umbrella but a poor roof.
He knows for sure which harbour he is making and hence knows which is the right wind .While approaching changes he knows where to begin. He puts action ideas on the LAN connected computers for total transparency ,where all could see it regularly—and this is updated daily. The CM pays attention to precise areas where he can make a difference. He will move himself towards their goals. He keeps people away from the dangerous semi-circle and guides them to the non dangerous--from the danger phase to the opportunity phase. He helps the 4 stripers to develop the tools of CHANGE MASTER , so that his legacy can remain.
The CM understands re-organisation , corporate culture changes and value changes and behavior changes. Today competence is based on attitudes, approaches, innovation, values. Organizations today have to be organized for constant change. Hence the reason for the structure to be flatter and less hierarchical. You cant move through change and keep previous levels of tight control over people. You can gain control over change by giving it up.
Encourage development of newsletters , new logos or slogans or recognition events to help celebrate of reflect the change. Teach the skills to learn how to learn. Activate a flexible response and learning cycle. Encourage self management. Inform each person that he or she is accountable for some aspect of the change. There must be some bonus for special efforts.
He creates a positive internal climate that is receptive to change. Focusing effort is an important part of effective change management. Change aims need to be articulated in a simple way so that everyone understands the need , use metaphors to clarify change concepts. Example -- Branding mind picture: if this product was a motorbike —it would be a Harley Davidson.
People who have overcome major crises or handled serious trauma exhibit a sense that they can handle whatever life throws at them. These people look for what they can do and take action. This usually occurs despite having less than complete information. Stress hardy people develop a sense of personal power by having an active approach to change. If one avenue is blocked or frustrated they do not throw down the towel and cry for mummy. They try something else. As you take action you will discover new sources of energy and new possibilities. Never forget, one form of influence is gathering information. It can help you to gain control. Avoid putting lot of energy into things that you cant control-- mindless ceaseless striving, spinning wheels, reacting -- , lest you burn yourself out. If you are putting your energy into things that can make a difference you will feel a sense of mastery and confidence in your strategy.
When you try things that you are not 100% sure will work, you are taking a risk. Successful change managers take risks frequently. Risks are uncomfortable, but they are the only way a person can grow. Successful change managers can pick themselves up after defeat and bad times and start again. They will not let adversity weigh them down. Most great people in history have proved their greatness after rebounding from adversity.
Some people do not want to ask for help as it will be seen as weakness or inadequacy. In times of change other people are key resources who help you deal with change. They provide support, they help you respond to the new situation. A leader never does things alone. Rather leaders are valued because they inspire others to accomplish things together. A feeling of camaraderie helps everyone move along the change cycle. Support is a buffer against stress. Having a support network is no use unless you use it. It is important to re-evaluate the support net regularly. We are often limited because we do not know what is available.
Information is power in a world filled with change. Networking is based on building relationships. A good network reaches beyond your comfort zone. In times of change the information you need is seldom available in books or on Google search . When formal networks have shifted or disappeared, the informal network is very much alive. Network relationships are not the same as friendships. You can have a support relationship with people you do not know personally. At the core of networking relationships is the willingness to learn. Are you willing to learn things that are different than you think they are. When things change many relationships fall into flux. When things change fast there will be points of tension and expectations have to renegotiated and polarised. Difficulties between people occur because they are reluctant to bring up pinches they feel with each other. Be ready to listen to other people’s difficulties and to find a common ground.
A goal is an overall destination. Objectives are points you must reach along the way. For example the goal could be to install a new computer. Objectives would include considerations of cost, performance, software support, etc.
Problem solving in a group can take the following forms—
---individual domination, where one well informed and competent employee filibusters and controls the topic.
—where the status of the employee controls acceptance and rejection
–--where employees overflowing with “positive attitudes” rush into a solution to avoid a conflict or debate
—where employees play to the gallery and are afraid to differ with each other, to flow with the past practice of consensus .
Conflict and debate can be a positive force in reaching a sound decision. Sound decisions are the goal of adaptation to change. Inaccurate assessment and hasty conclusions does not address real problems. Disagreement is a major contributor to development of alternatives. Without a full range of alternatives an inappropriate decision may occur.
Sometimes transition structures are necessary. Establish special ways of working together and temporary organizational structures—make sure you demolish them before you leave.
No force on earth can dent the LEGACY OF A GOOD CHANGE MANAGER after has earned his HUZZAHS and left the field--- such would be the tremendous and mind boggling influence he had wielded.
THE 21ST CENTURY SUPERVISOR :--
Creating NAS ( new age supervisors ) who are ACCOUNTABLE is part of the Change Manager’s job.
Now who is a NAS? And what is this accountability thing? —read on--
The NAS runs a tight ship. He does not care for popularity medals. He would rather be respected on basis of results he obtains through his staff than be liked for giving three bags full of Ghanta (overtime). He does not understand or care for the the term “business as usual” in this changing world. Rather he does understand the term “much more with much less “ . He does not want his performance to depend upon third rate staff, hence he is smart enough to put himself in a position to get the very best available. He does not have too much time for people who do not work smart , who cuts corners and cannot build in quality as a work culture . He challenges the “old way”of doing things. He bases normal operations on tighter budgets, tighter deadlines and faster pace –without relaxing standards for quality.
He can quickly spot and correct un acceptable behavior by one time vaccinations.. He can anticipate trouble and handle the situation without being heavy handed , before it grows up into a big problem that affects quality. He sets a good example and gives everyone a week or so to adjust to his style. He can approach a skillful but difficult staff member in such a non overbearing way , that the person improves his behavior without being lowering his standards. Converting such people into team players is a valuable part of his job. He will stay cool and solve the problem--- not win the argument. He refuses to take things personally with problem employees, as it is a productivity matter not a personal contest. He treats working with a difficult person as a challenge, he will not go into the sacking mode or depression about it. He show strength under pressure and can tackle problems quickly He knows that problems that are ignored usually do not go away, they get worse. He is smart enough to pitch in to remind himself or the rest that his technical skills are still honed and sharp as ever ( of course he knows that he is paid to supervise --not slog . He understands that the fastest way to destroy a relationship is to to make a promise and then fail to keep it. He sees that the team is rewarded as a group, even if special recognition is given to one or two people for unusually good individual performance.
If he appears weak by acting uncertain, tentative or insecure he will not receive full co-operation. He understands the secret of radiating personal self confidence , strong image and ability to handle unexpected events—it means everything. This means he will not get intimidated when dealing with difficult people or overwhelmed by complex technical problems. He can identify a problem because he has the knowledge power . He can get a job carried out because he has the personality power of persuasion, encouragement , persistence and patience. He will not avoid confrontation when action must be taken. And he can say No when necessary. When under pressure he will not not slack off on safety or quality. His attitude sets the pace and the tone for everyone. Remember attitudes are CAUGHT not taught.
The NAS ( new age supervisor ) understands that knowledge is power and is on top of his own job. He uses this resource to direct, instruct, coach ( open in full view and earshot of the team ) and counsel ( private for touchy matters )— roll all 4 into one for the word mentor. In sport you find that the team that wins is not the team with the best raw talent—but the one with the best coach who designs and implements winning strategies. Just as professional athletes and sportsmen build loyalty towards coaches, the same way your staff will love to work for this NAS who has the capability to lead them to first rate results. A tennis player would rather win the Wimbledon than hear sweet nothings from a useless but sweet talking coach. Leadership means stepping out in front of others with plans that are well thought out and with new ideas that boost results, save time and meet expectations. He promotes a lively and stimulating environment through his own positive attitude. The feeling that comes when you are in a winning team where all is in control is a good one. Staff members who feel good about themselves will produce better results. Sustainable motivation comes from within—like happiness. When he makes a “people mistake” he will repair the working relationship immediately by effective communications. . If he allows these mistakes to go unattended he will undercut his ability to get results through other people. He creates an organized work space where all resources needed to achieve goals are on hand and available. He moves quickly and assertively to remove any factor that is demotivating. He ensures that team members take good care of themselves and avoid injury and burnout. He helps staff members to improve their individual skills and develop their role within the team.
He sets standards and creates an environment where the staff understands and meets performance standards of the company. He does not react, rather he proactively thinks and plans ahead. He stays positive, shows strength under pressure, establishes high standards of quality, stays reasonable and consistent within limits. He builds team effort for high productivity, ensures safe practices and treat every one fairly. He is upbeat and focused on quality so that his staff responds in positive ways. He knows that if he overlooks defective work, it will shape their idea about quality in a negative way. He understands that it is not enough to just put the pressure on. One eye will be on the budget and the other on deadlines.
He sets a brisk tempo but not a frenzy which causes strain. As a Master when you join a ship and set low standards ( when all and sundry are testing controls to check you out ) you will find it impossible to expect high performance later. He handles mistakes quickly and calmly. When things go wrong – he stays cool under pressure, collects the facts , identifies the problem and develops an effective solution. He balances his authority with a sense of humour. Establishing good relations on a individual basis most often means listening instead of talking. He will quickly talk and listen to anyone who does not meet his standards or limits so that they do not have any doubt about what he expect. He has the personality and has the aura of a leader (like Imran Khan ) , for it makes his job that much simpler.
Pro-active planning enables him to put the right resources, in the right amount , in the right place at the right time, ( as simple as making babies , right? Tee hee ) before his staff starts using time and resources which do not get results and jack him. Wake up calls can be rude and costly. He solicits feedback from all –not a select few
He is not a picky jerk supervisor who always lies in ambush , waiting and trying to catch people making mistakes—instead set basic goals which all understand what to do and how to do.. Almost all enjoy working in an environment that has high standards and reasonable limits. And nothing undermines your authority faster than playing favourites—sometimes this could be a challenge , but take it from me , you must meet this head on right from the start..
And remember nothing beats the positive effects of a good start.
For Change to work the CM must check if he has been successful in instilling a sense of ownership for accountability --
People who own their own cars are more inclined to wash them regularly. This is why communism failed. Accountability was fostered by fear of retribution. Even a baby girl like to take care of her own doll. Ownership whether in things or in ideas promote accountability.
When managers become fire fighters , making all the decisions and solving all the problems the employees become uninvolved and underused , with no sense of ownership. Without ownership there is hardly any accountability.
Accountable managers do not have behavior patterns such as blaming others, making excuses, denying responsibility etc. Developing open , trusting mutually respectful relationships is the best way for building accountability. Managers must be accountable for results even if they delegate the work to others—for delegation is not abdication. Ultimate accountability cannot be delegated—you can delegate responsibility for results or authority to produce the results. A Master of a ship or a manager ashore gets paid to be accountable. Many Chief engineers or even Tech Superintendents think that the Master is not accountable for the state of his engine room. The Bosun may be responsible for the paint room but the Chief officer remains accountable for the state of the paint room.
When mistakes result in rebukes , ridicule, interrogation, angry lectures, suspension , loss of salary increments, probation, written documentation of poor performance etc an unwritten rule is communicated to all. In this neck of the woods ,never make mistakes. This results in resistance to change for the better as this increases the probability of making mistakes—and why set up yourself for pain and heartache? So the obvious answer is to cover it up and SHOVE IT UNDER THE CARPET. Rather than being accountable for their actions employees are taught to be anxious about making mistakes and to protect themselves from pain. Mistakes cause him fear of discovery, embarrassment from peers and feeling of self disgust. Mistakes are opportunities for coaching employees to be more comfortable about being accountable. Coaching employees through their mistakes is a step by step mentoring process as a learning procedure and to strengthen relationships. Help them to learn to ask their own questions and think for themselves. Ask—how will you make sure this mistake will never happen again. When you communicate effectively with employees they are more likely to feel trusted and respected by you. This in turn makes them want to honor their commitments to you and the net result is maximum accountability.
One of the best ways to build rapport with some one is to match that person’s dominant personality type or style. People could be swearing and talking yet have a fantastic rapport with each other—they are in sync with each other and talking the same medium—have you seen the TV serial American chopper, where they build custom motorbikes. One of the most powerful truths of human behavior is “what ya stroke is what ya get”—the transactional analysis system of social psychology called every form of attention a “stroke “. Don’t misunderstand me and start stroking that pretty girl working in your office ( tee hee! ) and land up in the pen.
Stroking at the work place ( like foreplay before sex ) is a HR management art. This stroke is not an ego-massage, on the contrary it is about the powerful human need of attention ( which causes kids to do outlandish things ) —let me not digress. If ya give your attention to meeting goals and being accountable this is what ya get. Strokes could be praise to reward the “little kid”, it could also be asking for suggestions or just plain listening.
Accountable managers delegate for results with check points for deadlines --not to just assign tasks or act as a overdependent manager or mere middle man. Effective delegation fosters ownership and accountability.
When you and another person are on the same frequency you feel connected to each other. You can recognize rapport when eye contact is made, when there is politeness , when both are speaking at the same tone and volume and at the same emotional level. The pace of the conversation is relaxed. Active listening involves head nods, or verbal responses like I hear you/ I see/ go on.
A goal is a statement of outcome you hope to achieve in a clearly defined time limit. It must be achievable and measurable—like a football inside the net before the final whistle. A goal achieved after the deadline is no goal at all. Remember Moses and his disastrously led unending ,unmeasured and acrimonious march to the promised land .
A goal statement is not an action plan or a to-do-list. What gets measured gets done . Hence tracking progress , anticipating and spotting challenges along the track is paramount. A goal must be achievable—jumping up to the 10th floor from ground in hardly possible.
Employees who are committed to goals with a sense of ownership will be more accountable than those who have to accomplish with some one else’s goals. By involving employees in goal setting and planning , you can have a team of people with pride in their team, enthusiasm for their work and maximum accountability for their actions and decisions.
As long as you are the only person who can do important tasks well, you block your own advancement—the solution is to provide training.
Delegation is not dumping. There has to be a system for follow up evaluation. The employee must be encouraged to ask clarifying questions. When you decide the delegate choose from the following options—
who would be the most qualified?
Who would be excited about doing this job?
Who needs the growth experience?
Who has the time to spare?
Who could handle this after some training?
Who has the power to do this?
Naturally you do not want a sullen faced , unqualified person who does not care for this particular growth experience nor can spare the time—and assigning responsibility without appropriate power will always guarantee failure. This means that after delegation you have to inform whoever concerned or the relevant departments that so and so has the authority to request for help if required. Remember your delegation act is incomplete until you have told all who may be affected . Once the job is delegated receive information about the progress so that you do not have to hover over his shoulder which may be construed as distrust. Remember delegation is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your team and to empower them. A clear deadline helps to focus efforts.
Most people like to be asked rather than told what to do, as a subtle demonstration of respect ( however, on the bridge you must not ask the quartermaster if he could kindly execute hard-a-port so that you may avoid imminent collision!! ). You must receive a commitment—not a “I will try”—such an failing prophecy from the starting line could be self fulfilling .
When you have to confront someone in order to work towards a commitment for change it is all right to call a timeout when emotions erupt to allow for a poise recovery, and you will be respected for this . A low emotional level is necessary to avoid triggering emotional responses, exaggeration and for feelings, wants and needs to be acknowledged and respected. An important element in handling the mistakes of others is to choose an appropriate time and place.
There is a big difference between a leader and a manager. Leaders are respected men of vision who can communicate well. A manager is someone who gets something done through other people. A good manager can be a leader, if he has clear goals, involves employees in developing goals and decisions, helps them to plan action , motivates them and is a good listener.
A CM must know how to conduct interviews, it is an essential skill--
Interviews are an important part of the communication process. Interviews can be graded as appraisal, coaching, counseling. They can even be used to improve the image of your organization.
An interview is not a social occasion—but it MUST start with some friendly and pleasant general questions---in fact anything other than the purpose of the interview. A strained environment is not conducive to an effective interview. A well conducted interview , shows gut feeling biases , the door. The purpose of the interview must not be a secret. It must be enjoyable to both parties. First impressions count a lot –on both sides. Your first greeting will have a strong bearing on the performance of the interviewee.You must not lose your train of thoughts during the course of the interview, so use a separate private and soundproof room and keep your mobile off . Unless it is a disciplinary interview avoid sitting 180 deg opposite behind a desk, to promote free discussion.
Superior/ patronizing approach or rudeness or even slouching in your chair will get you nowhere and will not help you achieve your desired objective of an exhilarating positive exchange. An interviewer with an attitude problem is unlikely to gain the respect of of the interviewee. Don’t treat him as a second class citizen and be fair. Once your arrogance is matched by a suitable response –the interview is dead. Don’t quote anything which can be challenged—say-- we are the biggest chemical operator in the whole world or we pay the highest wages in the market.
Questions are of 2 types open ended and closed. After a cricket match , when the mike is thrust in front of the “man of the match” or the captain, you would have heard open ended questions which does not deserve a simple Yes / No or a terse one word short answer , and puts the interviewee at ease. Open ended questions give less opportunity for bluffing. Now , how do you find out the most about other people –by asking questions and listening—both.
It is important to help out the other person by at least a nod or a smile. When you show your body language—honest is NOT the best policy . But ensure that what you say support your body language. Usually those who look away when you talk to them are nervous or have something to hide. Try to assess the character, attitude and the ability of the person, for you are there to see the real person , not some one who is good in play acting. That reminds me of the newly promoted judge who wanted out—he wanted to be reverted back to a lawyer—for he would rather bullshit throughout the day than listen to bullshit throughout the day.
Coaching interviews are usually one to one training, a skill used by CMs’.. The objectives could be to teach new skills, build on existing skills or to make the employee feel part of a worth while team. It can be intimidating and most would prefer a conventional training course. Hence is it important to know the persons bio data and who where exactly to connect to him- or you may be as well trying to teach a cat to meaow, which it already knows , better than you. Be patient with the not too bright ones—show that you care, and help him out. Follow up interviews must measure the progress made since the last interview and the problems which he encountered along the way. Show some tolerance for some failure. Handouts and homework are important parts of a coaching interview.
A counseling interview is to help an employee overcome a problem that is hassling him. You are expected to lend a friendly ear and a hefty shoulder on his wheel. It can be initiated both ways. If you feel you are getting out of your depth—call in the expert.
STRESS BUSTING AGAIN--
In my previous mentoring piece (5) , I had written—happiness is the best stress buster and had given a few tips. Since I have been accused of holding back some goodies , and on popular demand-- I am including a few more tips for happiness.
Enjoy your vacation, spend some money --
My vacation “sweet spot” song:--
Gonna shake my tree - gonna shine mE light
Gonna make a little magic – gonna raise some hell
Don't need no license, don't need no insurance
Don't wanna hustle, just wanna be cool
All my best laid dreams are now for catchin'
Can't stop this thing I started
Can't stop this course I plotted
Run senses run, Oh Love this sweet spot
Never short sell yourself.
The minute you settle for less than what you deserve, you get even less than what you settled for. When it comes to self esteem, how you treat yourself is as important as how others treat you. Recognise your own self worth and learn to value yourself. There is a sense of contentment in liking the way you are, being your own natural self and not having to fake it. Reflecting your true natural self causes nil stress. Happiness and low self esteem are bad bed fellows. True stability comes from your commitment to stand by yourself.
And about how about putting your finger in the eye of the jealous cynics—
My “ I’m so crass- aint it tragic?!” song:- ( for the cynics )
Years may have made me old, but they've sure made me wise
I'll stand on my hard earned drive, n watch your ego balloon go bust
Let your conscience be your guide 'til we meet again,
Who are you gonna run to, when your ass is on the line?
If you need a helpin' hand , maybe i won't pass you by!
Be at peace with yourself.
Accept the ying and yang cycle—dawn after dusk—spring after winter --develop a positive attitude to daily life. A positive mindset allows you to emphasise the good and ignore the bad. You can pick the good out of a bad situation, because no situation is really bad. It is upto you to recognise it. The human mind can be programmed to do this. You have an option—wallow in unhappiness and self pity –or bask in the sunshine of positive thoughts and happiness. A happy man is not he who seems thus to others—but who seems thus to himself ( check out Vadakayil )
A smile releases feel good DHEA hormones in our system. It is important to express your dissent and let out steam —or you risk displaying passive aggressive behaviors and be moody and politically cynical. Anger is a sign of weakness. Unpleasantness creates tension and unhappiness. Follow your emotions but know when to control them. An easy and calm mind can only be attained when emotions are allowed a safe expression.
Drop your ego.
How you think about people and how you react to them is extremely important to your own happiness. Are you the immature and negative type who will mistreat people who has not given you enough importance or massaged your ego? Will you bristle with indignation the moment somebody points out your error. ( never accept the malicious criticism of a jealous deceitful person! ). An inflated ego can never allow a person to behave normally. Thoughts of petty minded revenge can harm your emotional and physical self and can cause you much agony. Your childhood was carefree because you had no inflated ego. Take a break and examine all you past relationships gone sour—the common factor was ego—right? . Harsh words are needless arrows which cannot be retrieved. See innocence in mistakes.
Giving is a joyful experience that benefits the giver more than the receiver. Giving away what you do not require is not charity, on the contrary giving away what you value is charity. Most relation ships are based on greed, ulterior motives and self interest. See right through unhappy and unsharing people who live for themselves. Little drops of kindness makes a huge difference. Don’t ignore your conscience which is the mirror of your soul.
Privacy and blast
Solitude and privacy can be blissful as it provides the much needed time for introspection and self assessment when you lose direction —to set you back on the path of happiness. Invest in honest friends whose sunshine you enjoy being in and with whom you can remove your mask and let your hair down. Once in a while take a break from the rat race. -- have a blast , let the good times roll and leave the world behind --to release those repressed enzymes and DHEA hormones.. Listen to your heart and feel like the “lil child of the west wind”. . True happiness does not lie in the multitude of friends—but your choice and their worth, with whom you can have a good conversation and spend quality time.
Do something creative every day, do not vegetate— get off your high horse and grow intellectually. Don’t dwell in the past—live in the present.
Learn to say no and to draw the line. Accepting the fact that something is unchangeable makes it easy for us to adjust to it. Sometimes it is better to mould ourselves to suit a situation than to change every thing and end up frustrated. . And just imagine –not having super high expectations from anyone—wont your life be much happier? Do your best but don’t expect others to be perfect. Striving for perfection from others can lead to unhappiness—as the world is such an imperfect place
The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. Your inner reserves of strength can only be tested in times of struggle. Happiness requires problems, for happiness is not pleasure –it is victory. A man taking a victory lap is happy as he is expressing the unbound joy of a deed well done, the joy of achievement or the thrill of creative effort, like writing a symphony. It is the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after achievement that demanded your very best—unlike the cowardly US effort in Iraq ( and imagine they had hollow victory laps and ticker tape parades! ) . A victory lap is for yourself—no animal or bird tries to impress others. You cannot be truly happy after cheating in an exam or rigging a contest. Happiness must overtake you—you must not overtake happiness.
A close knit family, a clear conscience which includes the feeling that you have not been ungrateful to your old parents, the knowledge that the people whom you love are happy, a positive cash flow ( ha! Yes!!) , something to hope for , someone who gives you unconditional love –it could be a pet-- and a good imagination.
To grow you must adapt yourself to the NEW ORDER—or you remain vulnerable and unhappy in the unfamiliar zone. No one can change the inevitable. Accepting this wisdom saves undue frustration and misery.
Continuity gives us roots--change gives us branches allowing us to grow and reach new heights -
We cannot change anything unless we accept it.- Carl Jung
CAPT AJIT VADAKAYIL-- CM