1. The organisation and the individuals that comprise it are different issues
2. Changing attitudes is achieved one by one, changed behaviour is a group activity
3. The change agent is not leading or driving but acting as a catalyst and facilitator
4. The change agent and his peers must be united in rationale and in mutual support
Silos, individuals and a single team – Exploding the myth.
“All for one and one for all” is a load of old c.’’@’., s
There is no single team, not even in top flight football. There are individuals and silos that have sufficient common cause, mutually understood process, just sufficient mutual trust and just sufficient understanding of the team dynamic to get the job done. And that’s as good as it gets.
Silos are not all bad, they are just teams with the wrong focus
Let’s not be too hard on Silos. First of all the gurus that designed what has become the modern organisation started off by designing silos. Quality people who never make anything, HR people who never manage anyone, Project managers with no reports and on and on.
It’s not surprising for example, that accounts like each other’s company and that they do battle with sales who are keen to give bigger discounts and more added value.
In the pecking order of the organisation, it is inevitable that some people will find their corner of the pond in favour or out of favour at different times and will then form a silo of their own.
Silos are created to protect ill gotten gains or to defend against a perceived threat. When the Normans invaded England and when the British invaded America, the first thing they did was build a great defensive silos and climb inside it.
Changing individual behaviour is not the same as changing individuals
The first is your moral duty the second is morally wrong unless you are a therapist working with the persons consent.
Managing individuals in the workplace must be done with complete respect for the individuals private psychological space. Only behaviour is monitored or commented on.
E.G. An individual may ignore the new procurement dept and call a supplier directly. This is not perverting the system, it is not obstructing change, it is not being awkward or being anything! It is just making a single error of behaviour. It should be treated that way.
Listen to them and hear them, understand their views on office politics and territorial behaviour and empathise with their fears, but don’t blame them for feeling fear.
Every reaction is an action and every action results in a reaction.
Don’t react to behaviour that is not what you hoped for. Each action will bring an equal and opposite reaction and hence people become entrenched. Let it ride and approach it positively at an appropriate time when the message will be received and no threat will be felt.
Walk a bit in their shoes
You can never expect to be listened to, or to be heard, until you are seen making a genuine effort to understand the other point of view. That’s a big leap of faith on your behalf, but until you accept it and make, it you can never expect that same leap of faith from the other individual.
Stop and think about it, if you are not prepared to listen, you have already discounted that individual completely and are therefore imposing your will with force on them, be it for good or bad. That is a sure fired recipe for resistance and reaction.
Make sure you have a rational you can really believe and evangelise before you start work in earnest.
If you are going to lay your sole bare and let them take a pot shot at you in order to earn the right to pitch them, then you had better be very confident and be well prepared. Developing a vision is like developing a value proposition for a new product, you need to start with experts and test on real customers until you hone it into something that is bomb proof, and boiled down enough to pitch someone going the opposite way on an escalator.
Remove and allay fear to accelerate change
When people are being asked to change the way they work and abandon skills they have come to rely on for their security, it is not surprising that they will resist.
Winning hearts and minds is important, but it is only one step on the ladder. Once you have convinced them conceptually, you then need to give them the wherewithal to change and a bit of encouragement to make the final move.
Process is a great place to start
Once you have won the conceptual fight, you then need to begin painting in some of the detail. The best way to get a workforce very familiar with a new way for working is by designing and verifying the processes via a systematic approach involving increasing numbers of the workforce as the result becomes more polished and closer to completion.
Involving people in designing their future helps to achieve buy-in and begins the process of transferring ownership from you to them.
Training is a key component
Here is you chance to sweeten the pill by providing new bankable skills through training. Suddenly people are in a classroom situation getting a dress rehearsal and things become much clearer and a lot less fearsome. A change is as god as a rest once the fear has gone away and with confidence in their new capabilities, you will see a new attitude emerge and a healthy competition will begin to develop.
Tools and systems
When you coax a horse onto a new stable, you often have to face him to the door and stand there a long while until he builds up the courage. Too much pushing can spell disaster and in desperate cases you have to blindfold him, but once he is in there, you close and firmly lock the door.
In our age of automated process, it is almost inevitable that a change brings with it a new set of software tools to support the new processes. These can be seen as an extra hurdle to cross or as a friend and ally. I tend to see it as an ally, because once the processes are accepted and automated, it has the same effect as closing the stable door. The old is switched off and the new is here to stay.
Now build in excellence
You’ve done the hard work and you now have the most receptive and malleable workforce you will have had for a long time with enthusiasm, self belief and optimism for the future.
All you have to do now is keep it going long enough until it becomes a habit and then develops silos and then the next change comes along and . .
Don’t stop now, build in continuous improvement, teach them to develop better faster processes and tools, encourage innovations and ideas and keep the optimism and dynamism going.