Last week I was asked, “can people really change?", which lead into "can organizations really change?". Just to be clear, I’m not talking about changing a location, a job, the kind of laundry detergent you buy or the corporate brand. I’m talking about the core; what’s in our DNA, or corporate culture. Can we change the less desirable parts of our personality we were born with, for the better? Seems like a noble pursuit, applicable to most of us and thereby, most organizations, and honestly, CHANGE has been a major component of many industries since I retired in 2003. Right?
Without hesitation my response was “NO”. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to change myself, family, friends, you name it. We are not changing. End of blog.
Ok… not so fast. I have to fill this page and the question did get me thinking. While I haven’t found a way to erase my less desirable DNA, I have attempted, over time, to “manage” it, therefore, how I choose to respond is changing, in the hopes that this will become more natural over time. After all, I read that Muhammad Alli once said “a man who views the world the same at sixty as he did at twenty has wasted forty years of his life”, which scares the daylights out of me, so I figure I have nothing to lose by trying. 'Cause I am 72.
So how do we do this? How do we really work on the big CHANGE? Per Linda Sapadin, Ph.D, it’s a process that begins with being “aware”. Sorry Linda, but – duh. We’ve all heard that one before, right? According to Dr. Sapadin, however, we’re really not that “aware”. We are aware of the need for a change, but we blame external factors (e.g. I lose my temper because someone provokes me or we are in a disjointed organization. Or we don’t know how to communicate). Is anyone familiar with this?
The next step requires a “no nonsense” commitment to the change that is needed, no exception (e.g. I’ll keep my cool at work but if a listener pushes my buttons, I may have a sharper response. Or, I’ll communicate better during time on the radio. We must be committed to the ultimate goal (change) we are trying to make, all the way around.
Finally, Linda goes on to explain that we should expect resistance from ourselves, expect to be uncomfortable, expect this to be a challenge – it’s the path less traveled, not of least resistance.
So what does this have to do with in your organization? There have been a lot of changes within any organization over last few years. Now, it’s time for the heavy lifting. What change can we work on as individuals, that will have an impact on how we work within any organization – so that we haven’t wasted the past few years of our life. I just turned 72 and I am still trying to change and improve. It’s a battle I don’t always win. But I will keep trying.