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The Aftermath of Change

Discouraged employee closes their eyes and holds their head in stress.

C: Welcome to this episode of Shotcast, a series of bite-sized podcasts that’ll feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Courtney. 

J: And I’m Jackie. 

C: Something we’re thinking about is change. We’re going to talk about the difference between what we’re talking about a lot the messy middle and a new concept that we’ve been playing with is the aftermath of change. One of the things that we’ve been observing is those of you who have taken the classes have seen our change experience talk right there’s the messy middle and it shows the typical change management j-curve where things drop off and then we climb out. And what I’ve been noticing more and more is that some organizations, a lot of organizations like fail to climb, you failed to climb. You stay in that bottomed-out space for a long time and that becomes your new normal. And I’ve been tossing around the phrase like the aftermath of change. People are living with confusion, they’re living with disparate tools, they’re living with a lack of routine, and they’re living in an environment where they don’t know and trust the people they work with. And it’s just the steady state. There is no improvement from the day that it fell and there’s no concerted effort to climb back out of it. It’s just an aftermath because of our new current state. 

J: You’re making me think, Courtney, about statistics that have been out there for a number of years and I think it came out of they do massive studies. There’s an organization out there. They look at companies that recently did mergers and acquisitions and they look at whether or not those transactions in most cases, very few of them actually gained the value that it’s set out to gain. They never climb out of the messy middle. 

C: It’s something like 70% don’t achieve the value.  And if I’m an employee who has to work in an environment that doesn’t have consistent processes and tools expectations, I don’t know my leaders…all of those symptoms in what we call the smart side of your business lead to very challenging Team Dynamics on the healthy side of your business. It’s difficult to know people in those environments. It’s difficult to trust people in those environments. It’s difficult to be empowered to make decisions and get things done in those environments. And it begs the question…why does that happen?

J: So what’s coming up for me number one is this visual of a comet with a really long tail coming to mind for me. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy or not but you are really describing the aftermath of poorly managed change. If you can manage your change well and get people engaged in the right activities to help you manage that change you can climb out and you can achieve the value that you set out to achieve in the first place. Also, for anyone listening to us for a while, you’ve heard us say..change got you into this, leadership will get you out of it.  And so we need to think about where leaders are in the sort of poorly managed changes with these long aftermath tails, where all of those things are happening that you are that you so that you just described for us. One of the things happening in their organization is that leaders have moved on. It’s done, that happened three years ago. But they don’t realize that the things that are just today’s performance problems, i.e. people are obstinate, and don’t understand and don’t want to do the work whatever it might be. These are actually symptoms of this sometimes long ago poorly managed change and it just keeps on giving. 

C: Absolutely. 

J: Which means that leaders need to look at these problems and what they need to do in this moment as change leadership. You’re still in change leadership. 

C: I’m thinking about what you’re saying. It is very very common that leaders just want to check the box off. I’ve watched leaders give reports and take stars and what do they say give them their flowers for successfully implementing something. And the leaders get to say, look what I’ve accomplished. And the employees are looking at them thinking, what do you mean we’re done with this? Employees are almost treated poorly for expressing any pain or raising issues about something that’s related to change. Because they just want to be done with it and you’re not. I think it’s really an opportunity for leaders when they decide to set out to make a decision to change something to think about when the thing is actually done. Listen, I like an undercooked brownie as good as anything, but it’s probably not a good practice to undercook your change. You’ve got to finish that thing. Ok, I’ve cracked up the staff. 

J: One of the things that I talk about when I talk to leaders you know because of course I talk to leaders about just how to lead in any moment any day no matter what’s going on in your organization. But one of the things, when I recognize that leaders are in a place where they’re really large changes in your organization, is to have them get their heads wrapped around what we often call here that you know the picture of the future. Really rethink that in this case. So if you think you’re in this place of a really long tail of a poorly managed change is to renegade as a leader and think about what were we trying to achieve with this change. Do it in a way that’s not just transactional and practical but also you know emotional and relationship-oriented and to get your head wrapped around that picture again. And then start thinking about what are the signals that I can flood the environment with that will start to start to get people re-engaged in that and start moving towards that sort of final picture once again you know it may include things like retraining and some of those more practical things. More than likely some of those things that were left undone have more to do with people accepting the way things are and seeing each other in this new future working together with new relationships, new ways of thinking, and those sorts of things. 

C: Absolutely. And I think there’s a painted picture of the future and a willingness, to be honest and vulnerable when it doesn’t match up to where you’re going cuz that’s the only way to iterate and actually get there. I think that I painted a picture of the future in any data that comes up and examples that come up that don’t match that I’m just going to deny them. That’s not healthy or helpful. If you are in an organization that’s trying to change something there are opportunities. We help customers train people to help think about change to think about to be intentional about the climb out. If you are living in the aftermath, you have a climb to do. Working with us on the tools and the training and the things that got skipped before. It’s not too late. You still have to climb out, you still have work to do to get people to see where you’re headed. Bring us in when things haven’t went as well, there’s a big opportunity there. People feel more deliberate and more hopeful when people are more intentional about leading their people through change. 

That’s all for this episode of Shotcast, but we always have more to say. If you want more, drop us a line and Until next time. 

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