I coach leaders every day on change. My focus is always on the heart, because I know that’s where the change lies. Organizational change begins with individual change and that begins in the heart. Here are two scenarios I’ve written to illustrated the importance of heart and behavior in generating true change.
The group of employees stood in a room, murmuring quietly, anxiously awaiting the first speech of their new leader. Their company was in a downward spiral, and a turnaround was desperately needed. Everyone was afraid for their jobs, and morale was at an all-time low. The room grew quiet as the new leader rose to speak.
“Good morning, and thank you for this opportunity to speak with you all. Today I am going to share our new plan for turning this company around. We need to make some big corrections, and I’ll need your assistance in getting those changes made.
It’s a tough economy out there, but I think if we tighten our belt and improve our process we’ll get through it. This will mean a lot of sacrifice from everyone in this room. Long hours and dedication will be expected. If you don’t want to work harder, then you might want to think about working somewhere else.
I welcome each one of you, if you’re willing to do what it takes. More communication will be coming from our communication team, so be sure to check your e-mail. The leadership team will be responsible for answering your questions.
I might not always be popular, but I am here to do a job and I intend to do it. What I need from you is to keep working hard! Thank you.”
“Good morning, everyone! I know that each of you has responsibilities, and family, and are concerned about your jobs. I remember being a worker in my thirties when our company merged with another. It was months before we knew what was actually going on and which one of us might end up with a job. I had one close friend who suffered a heart attack from the anxiety.
I know that this company had some very strong years of which you were a part. I thank you for being a part of building this company. Out of respect to you, I will promise one thing during this time of change– you will always know what’s going on and why. If your life is going to be impacted, you’ll know. My hope is that we will turn this company around and those communications won’t be necessary. But, I am going to hold a weekly meeting with leaders who will then ensure each one of you will stay informed through weekly huddles dedicated to this change.
Change is not easy, but it is necessary. And while I may not always be popular for my decisions, I want you to know that everything I am going to do has one ultimate purpose — to return this company to better health. You have worked too hard to let this company fail.
Change requires courage and commitment. As your leader, I promise you courage. I hope I have your commitment.
This is just the beginning of our change journey. Thank you. Your next update will be on Monday.”
A Question for You
You can probably tell that I prefer the second leader’s message for a variety of reasons.