The longer that I pursue this path to create a new, better and more balanced way to work, the more I realize that what I am advocating is transformational change — and it is not for the faint of heart.
There are two types of change. Incremental change focuses on actions and reactions to external events, situations and people — a one step at a time approach. It would now be a luxury for organizations to change incrementally, over time, with small changes that slowly build up to a new way to work.
But “slow and steady” is not the norm. Today’s American workplace is characterized by rapid changes that have created chaos and a certain amount of “breathlessness” in the workplace. As Jack Welch said, “Change…or die.” This type of environment requires more far-reaching change. Transformational change is driven by a clear, detailed, future-oriented vision — it’s compelling, challenging and changes the essence of everything that it touches.
The problem that I see in most organizations is that the leaders of an organizational transformation are using a reactive approach to decision making during the process — but transformation requires proactive decision making. As a result, all they can hope to create are incremental changes that usually do not create innovation or a new competitive advantage. No wonder 50-75% of change initiatives fail — people get impatient, give up or burn out!
It takes a leader to create transformational change. A leader who will challenge the status quo and take decisive actions toward achievement of the vision. This is not a project to be managed; it is a revolution that must be led.
Transformational change leaders inherently won’t “take it slowly” because too much is at stake. But they often fail by trying to change the status quo with a heavy handed, command and control management style. Transformational change must be led in a way that is inspirational, motivational and humanistic so that people feel supported as they take their tenuous steps out of their comfort zones. Frightened, angry or apathetic employees have a vested interest in not changing.
Creating a new way to work requires transformational changes in the way in which both work and employees are viewed. I see the new workplace as one that celebrates the uniquely human characteristics of its workforce — rather than viewing workers as line items on a budget. A workplace that supports and provides the necessary resources for its employees to succeed — rather than a laissez-faire, “it’s your problem” lack of support. A workplace that nurtures the creativity that can only be found in its people — rather than viewing their contributions as just a job requirement. A workplace that celebrates its achievements and recognizes the hard work and sacrifices of its workers — rather than simply adding more responsibilities to the workload.
In short, I see a transformation. Do you have the courage to make these fundamental changes to the workplace? I do.
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout: Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources. An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.