The Best Is Not AlwaysAuthor: Byron Pulsifer, © 2011
There was a time when I took over an organization that was in need of some major changes in order to not only utilize its resources to the maximum but in order to survive.
This was a time when downsizing was heavily on the minds of corporate executives and every service was on the chopping block.
Now, as a manager, I had a fairly open hand to do what was needed to get the job done. On the other hand, I knew full well that unilateral action was certainly not going to win a popularity contest, nor would it enable staff to want to work with me. The art of change management was strongly on my mind.
My leadership style was one that I needed to involve staff members in a much stronger role as their own change agents where they not only clearly understood the issues but also took it upon themselves to recommend strategies for change that would improve service yet maintain the same staffing model. For a lot of you, I know that you have probably worked through similar issues at some point in your career.
The first change I made, was to involve all 26 staff members in a once a week meeting where everything was put on the table even those issues and concerns that I was told to keep to myself by upper management. My thinking, however, differed significantly than my senior managers because I strongly believed that every staff member should be treated as a responsible person and that they should be told everything that might affect their careers in both the short and long term - the nothing held back rule.
After many months of intense discussions and meetings, it came time to move into a major change for one area. That area was a long running teaching seminar that was run over the course of five days and was offered to other employees across the large organization. This was an intense course, a great course, but one where five days could no longer be supported given tight times and where other duties and responsibilities took precedent. The change was basically twofold - either reduce this seminar to a much shorter period of time without loosing its effectiveness, or to scrap it all together.
On the one hand, it would have been quite easy for me to simply and unilaterally eliminate sections of this training seminar to reduce its time line by a couple of days. On the other hand, I was fortunate enough to have a very experienced trainer with me who had been conducting this seminar for many years. So, my decision was to ask this trainer to set about and review all seminar content, and to come up with a much shorter version that was just as effective as before. What I was doing was giving credence to competency over swift and decisive action. And, in the final analysis, this was the best strategy to take.
Not only was the seminar reduced by two days, so it only ran for three instead of five days, but it was much more manageable for the trainer, less tiring, and just as effective as our later feedback showed.
The point to this story is: working in teams will always beat individual performers as would be the case if it was a decision made by one person; and. there is no need to compete against anyone's competencies, it was the situation that demanded change not the trainer.
And, through life, we will always run into problems that may at first glance appear easy to resolve but this resolution may not be the best one. It is wiser to ask for assistance by way of others input if you are facing a difficult choice and in this way, you have the option to consider a solution that may be better, and that may not have occurred to you if you had acted alone.
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