PART 3: The ingredients of change
Part 1 and Part 2 focused on the bigger picture of change and the impact of the leader or manager on change.
This part will look at the critical ingredients required for change. For cheese making it is the milk and the culture at the minimum. You can add rennet and additives when required. In our workplace and organisations the main ingredients are the employees and the culture of the team/organisation.
Your type of milk (goat’s milk, cow’s milk, low fat milk, full cream milk) will determine the quality and properties of the final product: cheese. The same goes for the final product you are building in your company. The quality and type of employees you hire will determine the properties of the final product. You do not want “bad bacteria” in your milk, the same way you do not want “bad behaviour” in your employees. Remember: one litre of bad milk will infiltrate the whole batch of cheese you are making. I have seen the same in organisations.
Remember the document controllers that I needed to manage? I tried so hard to get the most out of everybody and to help each and every individual to reach their full potential. When there was animosity between the ladies, I called them in and discussed it. That went all according to plan, but I missed that underlying was one person causing the trouble. After the third time I called them in and saw no behavioural change, I needed to take action. Luckily we had a very wise project manager who recognised the problem. He arranged for this one person to be removed from the group and all of a sudden the atmosphere in the whole group of ladies lifted.
The graphic design company I coached experienced exactly the same thing. I came in after one of their employees caused chaos and she moved to another company. It took them a year to move out of the negativity and judgemental behaviour the one person caused in the office. Now the office is a positive, productive and creative place.
Make right hiring/firing decisions. It is very hard to eliminate toxic employees (laziness, unwillingness to change, failure to win). First find out why certain people are so disengaged before elimination, but know where your boundaries are and make the tough choices when needed. Then add the right employees – focus on the big things.
The individuals and teams are presented with a few hurdles every day, every week. These hurdles include cognitive behaviour, resources, motivation and politics. Your team only needs to focus on a few critical shifts in their behaviour. Choose your battles wisely. Which thing has the highest impact?
“There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it” – Simon Sinek, Start with why.
If you want to build lasting changes, everyone involved must understand why it is in their best interest to help make these changes happen. Engage the team in the process.
Remember change is a scary thing for the brain, and most of your employees and team members will have an “Away State” as coined by David Rock in his SCARF model.
Cheese culture is very sensitive to changes in the temperature. The cheese maker controls the temperature continuously. In the same way you as leader must not heat up the temperature too quickly or too much for your team.
Changes and culture start with the individual people. Does the motivation for change align with the values of each individual? Remember the old culture is hard-wired in each person’s brain and good habits were formed within the old culture. New culture means new brain wiring and maybe a new habit or two. This has to be ingrained to make the change sustainable. The brain should not focus on too much change at once. Limit the amount of change and first ensure that part one is sustainably implemented before the next batch of behaviours is addressed.
In conclusion: Honour the strengths of your existing culture. What does it mean for the individual? Are you able to make the impact practical? Are the changes tangible for each and every employee?
If you want to read all the articles, here are the links:
If you rather prefer to read it in English, here are the links: