Why making small changes can help when the big stuff looms…
But I’ve always sat here…
For some people moving desks is a really big deal. They’ve created their territory, put up their pictures, moved their phone and adjusted the height of their screen and chair so they’re perfectly aligned.
All of this is a good thing. And should be encouraged.
Becoming so entrenched in one space can become less like creating a home and more like building an empire.
It might sound a tad dramatic but it’s a common enough sight that people resist the filing cabinets or photocopier being moved because of NIMBYism – or they don’t want the new guy sitting next to them because they’ve always sat with Pete.
The trouble here is that in an environment where things rarely alter, the smallest change can become a major issue. Demanding the focus of too much management time and sucking the energy out of a team as factions form and people get frustrated over the pettiness of the issue – that very frustration being the thing that helps blow it out of all proportion.
And what happens when something big appears on the horizon and really shakes the status quo?
But what’s the solution? Well, you could just leave Pete where he is…
Do it more.
Small regular changes to seating plans or team structures can help prepare people for how to tackle bigger issues. Of course, it’s essential that we don’t just change for change’s sake – the alterations need to have a purpose. And we all need some level of constancy in our lives. But, when people understand that change isn’t intrinsically ‘bad’, you can create a more fluid, adaptable and successful workforce.
For example, when a business sells to another organisation, the disruption to both workforces is immense and intense. Everyone feels threatened, uneasy, uncomfortable.To be honest, it doesn’t even matter if no one’s job is at risk or if little actually changes, bar the footer on the letterhead.
When things change we all, albeit unwittingly, move into Bruce Tuckman’s four stage forming, storming, norming, performing model. In a business it means we have to expend resources to help our people work through what’s happening around (and to) them.
We can’t avoid this. But we can make it easier to bear. We can make the stages flow quicker and encourage early adoption of new ideas.
Our own experiences directing the HR and brand management during mergers and acquisitions has shown this time and again.
Small change is key.
The organisations that help their people learn to adapt in an unthreatening environment are the ones that reach the ‘performing’ stage quickest. With forward planning they reduce stress, management time and conflict.
And they create effective, confident employees who can cope when the big stuff looms.
As Heraclitus said: “change is the only constant”. Things simply work better when we’re used to it.