Archive for October, 2012

What Leaders Need to Know about Resistance to Change

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes that successfully leading people through change requires that a manager first understand the reasons that people resist any alteration to their routines. Kanter says that manifestations of resistance at every level, from foot-dragging to outright rebellion, can be managed if the leader recognizes the “predictable, universal sources of resistance” and then develops strategies for maneuvering around them.

In her experience, five of the most common reasons that people resist change are:

  1. Loss of control — When change is imposed, individuals feel they’ve lost self-determination and their sense of autonomy. By inviting employees to participate in planning changes, a leader gives them choices. As a result, employees will take ownership in the outcome.
  2. Excess uncertainty — People would usually prefer to remain “mired in misery,” Kanter says, than head into the unknown. Leaders need to help employees prepare for change by explaining the process and outlining the timetable.
  3. Surprise, surprise! — People need time to get used to the idea of a major change that’s coming. Instead of springing a major re-tooling on them without warning, a leader should at least communicate hints about changes ahead, and preferably, include them in the planning.
  4. Everything seems different — A lot of changes all at once can be confusing and disorienting. Leaders need to consider how much needs to changed and keep as much of the familiar as possible while implementing a series of changes gradually.
  5. Loss of face — Individuals who have been with the organization a long time, and especially those who may have participated in creating current procedures, will be defensive when another way of doing business is instituted. Kanter advises leaders to “help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring, and making it clear that the world has changed.” This will help people let go of the old and adopt the new.

Workers Prefer In-Person Collaboration and Communication

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Although a growing number of companies offer telecommuting and other nontraditional work arrangements and schedules, the vast majority of people with those options still choose to work at the office as usual. As reported in the Modest Bee, nearly half the companies responding to a survey by CoreNet Global Inc. and Steelchase Inc. say that employees prefer office technology even though their homes also are technologically well equipped.

At the same time, employee work space is shrinking. This is due to the increase in collaboration, according to Mark Damico, president of The Workplace Group, Inc. More company offices are being designed as “open environments with workstations around the perimieter and executive offices in the inside,” he says. Also, he says more young executives perceive private offices to be punishment rather than a perk. Not surprisingly, older workers resist open office designs, preferring the traditional layout.

Do you agree with these findings? Or does your experience indicate otherwise?

Concise Storytelling for Stanford Business Grads

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) has included storytelling in its curriculum for years. I had learned about it when I met Stanford professor Chip Heath at a conference where we both spoke, and he told me that he used my book, Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success, in his classes. More recently I’ve learned that the GSB incorporates storytelling instruction in numerous ways, inclduing a class for alums who were preparing to tell their business stories at an upcoming event at the school.

The focus of the class was how to prepare a concise story, which was defined as four minutes or less. In the videotaped course and an accompanying article posted online, J.D. Schramm, Ph.D., a lecturer at GSB, outlines six guidelines for narrowing the focus of a story so that it’s brief. The video is 138 minutes, so you may prefer to read the article. But if you choose to watch the video as well, look for the segment somewhere around the 60-minute mark that features two alums telling stories they’re developing–and getting feedback on how to improve them. It’s very instructive for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to attend a storytelling class.