THE CHALLENGES OF ORGANIZATIONAL TRANSFORMATION
In the previous post, we talked about the importance of transforming the culture of our businesses and organizations from a culture of FEAR to a culture of TRUST. When trying to build a CULTURE OF TRUST, it is important to be aware of the following challenges:
CHALLENGE 1: STRESS
Stress is not only to blame for huge economic losses to society through high levels of personnel turnover, absenteeism and sick leave (yearly estimate in the US: $3 billion), but it also represents one of the main reasons for the difficulties we often have in getting along at the office. We have all experienced how easily we lose cordiality, patience, tolerance – and even respect- for one another when we feel pressured and stressed. When you have to get up at 5 in the morning, tired and maybe with a headache, and then have to wake up your children and get them ready for school, and then you have to endure an impossible traffic jam or crowded subway ride to get to the office, and when getting there (often late and already stressed out), 20 phone calls and a 100 emails are expecting your answer, and the boss expects you to handle 4 priority cases simultaneously, and during the whole day you have had to deal with a lot of gossip and complaining,and then things change so you have to modify your planning, which means you have to either not finish what is expected of you or stay on late, and then when you finally come home, you are exhausted, irritable and impatient, creating a bad mood for everybody, and then you go to bed, but you can’t sleep because you are worried about all the things you didn’t finish and what is going to happen tomorrow, and so it goes on, and on , and on…. It is understandable and human to feel stress and lose control from time to time. It should also be allowed to have a “bad day” once in a while, but a lot of people live and work in the above described manner (or worse) with a constant and excessive pressure that transforms into chronic stress. This permanent stress, apart from a lot of negative effects on our body, mind and emotions, has a bad influence on the way we interact with others at home and at work. This is why STRESS MANAGEMENT needs to be one of the skills taught to every member of an organization that aspire to develop a culture of trust. When the members of a team or an organization learn how to avoid negative stress, we see a rapid improvement of how they manage pressure, conflicts and change. We see more emotional balance, flexibility, patience and tolerance that create more trust and communication, a more positive working climate and, as a result, higher performance and productivity. We even see improvements in the individual’s life quality and family relations.
CHALLENGE 2: EMPLOYEE IMMATURITY
Another challenge when trying to develop more trust in an organization is that many people do not possess the necessary maturity or awareness to assume individual responsibility and at the same time understand that the key to success is the synergy in the team. Their emotional and mental conditioning does not help them to comprehend what it means to work in a team. So what we see in many companies is a lot of ego, envy and lack of loyalty and team spirit, where “the survival of the fittest” and “win-lose” seem to be the basic rules. It is easy to understand why these organizations lose their best people. Because of this, any organizational training program aimed at enhancing the levels of trust, need to focus on the personal development of each member. By raising awareness and promoting honest, critical self-assessment on all levels, many become conscious of counterproductive aspects of their personality and take steps to improve. Awareness and self-observation mean to be more attentive and alert to how we communicate and interact with each other in order to have the freedom to choose alternative ways of reacting and behaving. Without the development of awareness and emotional maturity (or emotional intelligence), the individual is condemned to always repeat the same behavioral patterns and the improvement of the quality of relating and interacting is impossible. This means applying the principle of CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT to personal development: improving human quality the same way we improve the quality of a product, which is reducing or eliminating waste from the processes. In the technical processes we reduce loss of time, money and raw materials; in the human processes we reduce negative attitudes and behaviors like complaining, gossiping, arrogance, envy and “bullying, and replace them with behaviors and human qualities that enhance trust and communication in the work teams: accountability, humility, kindness, respect and companionship.
CHALLENGE 3: LEADERSHIP INCOHERENCE
All members of an organization share the responsibility of transforming the culture of fear into a culture of trust. The leaders are responsible for creating the structures, systems and procedures that support a team work environment, and everybody (leaders included) is responsible for showing a willingness to improve the working climate by developing a more balanced and conscious behavior. However, the leaders have an additional responsibility in the organizational transformation process. The transformation´s success depends a lot on the leaders´ ability to WALK THE TALK. The best way to limit and weaken the outcome of a training program and block the transformation process is to say one thing and do another. If the publicly proclaimed messages, values and intentions are not actively modelled and reinforced by Senior Management, the process loses credibility and power and the result is disappiontment, loss of credibility, trust and engagement, and a lot more fear than before. Employee engagement has to start at the top. If the leadership team isn’t engaged nobody else will buy it either. Mission and vision statements mean nothing unless they are lived authentically by leadership. The main challenge here is that one cannot force anyone to engage in a personal development process, and on every level you encounter resistance to the invitation to “look yourself in the mirror”. To grow as a human being, you need courage and perseverance, and not everybody is ready or willing. But if you have leadership engagement and manage to get the MAJORITY of employees onboard, it is normally enough to succeed.
CHALLENGE 4: THE SHORT TERM APPROACH
The main objective of a management training program that focuses on personal development is to enhance efficiency and productivity of the work teams by strengthening the relations between co-workers and reinforce their people skills needed for working in a team, like communication skills, emotional intelligence, stress and change management skills and self-control. Normally, a short workshop as an isolated event is not enough to produce the necessary changes on an organizational level. Most people just don´t change that rapidly. Although many people that assist a personal growth workshop become aware of the importance of being less stressed and more kind and respectful towards team mates, as well as the need to improve their own life quality, very few succeed – in spite of their new awareness – to create permanent changes in their behavior. Most of them fall back on their previous attitudes, behaviors and habits within a week or two. Changing and improving personality and habits TAKE TIME. The best results are therefore achieved when SENIOR MANAGEMENT consider personal development (human quality) a STRATEGIC OBJECTIVO for the company and show the will to be actively involved on a long term basis.
CHALLENGE 5: THE EVALUATION AND COMPENSATION SYSTEMS
The evaluation and compensation systems that are based on individual performance take away credibility from the message. If we are all responsible as a team for the results, how come our compensations are measured by our individual performance? As part of the cultural transformation, many times it is necessary to modify at least parts of these systems to include compensations based on team performance.
HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS? There are objective and measurable indicators of higher levels of trust and engagement and an improved working climate, like reduced personnel turnover, absenteeism and sick leave, as well as KPIs and specific economic indicators. Other indicators of success are more subjective, although today there are many useful methods and tools to measure them. A CULTURE OF TRUST AND ENGAGEMENT is expressed through high quality communication and relations, excellent service provided to internal and external clients and personal and organizational well-being.
NO ONE IS PERFECT Last, but not least, let´s not forget that no person or organization ever reaches perfection. So even if we are striving for continuous improvement, at the same time we need to develop the capacity to accept and tolerate certain personal and organizational imperfections. Tolerance, patience and empathy towards others are virtues, as long as we don´t have to compromise our values.
©2019 Jan Moller
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