Change Management: When Team Members are Oblivious
In this series of posts I’ve been discussing some of the challenges managers face as they help team members negotiate organizational change. The series has a light-hearted approach, using pseudo-scientific names: Benightedness, Phobia, Obliviousia, and Xenoskpeticosis. In the last two posts I covered Benightedness and Phobia. Today, I’m going to tackle Obliviousia.
When managing change, managers sometimes encounter situations where employees are just oblivious to their new responsibilities and appear unable to grasp what is required to be successful. Even when a manager clearly outlines responsibilities, defines success factors, purchases new software, and creates a budget sufficient to support team member needs—some just don’t get it.
I’ve seen this occur in organizations that shift their core strategy from an activities focus to a relationship-management focus. Team members’ success is no longer predicated upon the number of events or the attendance they generate. Now success depends upon identifying high value clients, donors, members, or customers and strengthening their loyalty and investment in the organization through purposeful engagement.
Team members’ success is no longer predicated upon the number of events or the attendance they generate. Now success depends upon identifying high value clients, donors, members, or customers and strengthening their loyalty and investment in the organization through purposeful engagement.
Yet, some continue to spin out a lot of activities with little evidence that the organization is benefitting. When confronted, these individuals usually display one of three symptoms: they become disengaged and display the “deer caught in the headlights” response; they become dismissive and say they are doing their job but the strategy is wrong; or they become defensive and say something to the effect, “this is not what I was hired to do.”
Importance of Accurate Assessment
It is very important at this point—before investing more resources—for the manager to determine whether the new responsibilities are the right fit for the team member. This is not simply a matter of training; it is about the team member achieving a mind-shift, gaining a completely new perspective on her/his work.
There are a number of assessment tools on the market that can provide important information, such as the Hartman Value Profile or Predictive Index. These tools help managers and team members understand how they approach work and decision-making—and thus, what job responsibilities best fit their styles and strengths.
The Importance of Decisive Action and Follow Through
However a manager approaches this determination, if the s/he decides an individual does not have the ability to negotiate the change in responsibilities, then it’s important to work closely with HR to find the right place within the organization or the right out-placement. No one benefits when someone is not productive—the team member feels like a failure and the organization is not meeting its objectives.
If the manger decides the team member has the capacity to make the jump, s/he must be crystal clear about expectations and committed to intensive training, oversight, and regular follow up to create a cadence of accountability regarding both outcomes and activities.
I recommend creating a work plan that articulates and tracks the following elements: top three must-achieve goals, success metrics that indicate achievement of the goals, and a set of activities that are highly predictable of success. In order to create a cadence of accountability, managers should meet weekly with team members to discuss each one’s track record for the week: what did the team member promise to do, what was done, what was the success, and what key activities will s/he do over the next week. (This strategy is based upon research conducted by Chris McChesney and Sean Covey and published in their book The 4 Disciplines of Execution.)
Locking In New Learning
This cadence of accountability focused on delivering effective outcomes needs to be supplemented with education and strategy sessions, so that the direct report is learning and integrating new practices. This is an effective pathway for team members to make the transition from being oblivious to enjoying success.