Making Change Work -- For You and Your Team


“We have a manager who doesn’t like change,” an HR director recently said. “We even had a really good team member leave because this person wasn’t open to innovating now and then.”

As leaders, part of our role is to create a culture of belonging and growth in the workplace that makes team members want to be there.

Trying new things is another flavor of change.

And having established systems, procedures, tasks, projects – all are important and essential elements of running a successful organization.

We’re hardwired to like predictability as people, and markets like certainty too.

But in an economy that’s constantly changing all around us, too much certainty and predictability can lead to organizational stagnation.

It can also have unintended effects on recruitment and retention.

Having just the right mix of certainty and uncertainty – challenges that team members can get excited about tackling -- can be a good thing for an organization. It also keeps us relevant.

Scott Steinberg talks about the many forms that change or uncertainty can take in business in his book, “Making Change Work for You”:

  • “Unstable economic conditions

  • Unpredictable operating environments

  • Shifting competitive landscapes

  • Changing customer needs and expectations

  • New tools, trends, and techniques

  • Emerging technologies (especially information technologies)

  • New communications systems

  • Evolving best practices

  • Unexpected opportunities and challenges”

Steinberg offers 10 rules or guidelines for managing uncertainty, with a focus on taking action when possible as part of minimizing that uncertainty.

One of the 10 rules (#6) is to Play the Odds, or make smart bets.

Try things that look to have a good chance of succeeding, even on a small scale. See what works.

Sometimes it’s these evolutions – small changes – that can have just as much impact as the revolutions, or big changes we make, Steinberg emphasizes.

There also are times when making smart bets doesn’t make good business sense – Rule #8 of the 10 Rules that Steinberg notes is to Pick Your Battles.

If your organization has team members who are a little risk averse, a great exercise when your team is looking at innovating on a small or large problem is to assess possible solutions using a Risk Matrix – including talking about the strategies for mitigating that risk.

Here’s an example, courtesy of the Five Colleges Consortium, including a blank chart to use with your team.

How comfortable are you as a leader with taking small risks, with trying new things?

Are there any small risks you might be willing to take, to change things for the better in your own work area, even on a minor level?

Are you creating a culture of innovation and adaptability, where team members can thrive? Contact Beth Offenbacker to discuss if our Team Building for Productivity and Performance workshop may be a good fit for your team.


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