Category Archives: Change Management

Personality: yours for life or can it be changed?

Recently I was involved in a discussion where we were talking about behaviours at work, and the issue of personality arose. Some would argue that you can’t change your personality, and the way you behave (for instance, in the workplace) is down to your personality and also perhaps to do with the chemical make-up of your brain.

Obviously being in HR, I would protest this- arguing that we are all in control of our own behaviours and that this is something that we can change. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy is a form of psychotherapy (treatment for emotional and psychological problems where a person talks with a mental health professional) that helps a person to change unhelpful or unhealthy thinking habits, feelings and behaviours (Source: Better Health Channel).

The core philosophy of CBT is that thoughts, feelings and behaviours combine to influence a person’s quality of life.

cbt

It is said that your thoughts influence how you feel and those feelings then impact on how you behave or react. For example, a situation at work (stimulus) occurs where someone criticises something you have done. You could potentially be thinking:

I’m so angry!!!
She’s always picking on me!
She has no idea what she is talking about!
He was really harsh in the way he said that
Perhaps he’s right; maybe I could improve on XX…
I’m glad that I got that feedback

Depending on the way that you think, this can impact on how you feel about the whole situation and this will dictate your response.

Recently however some have argued to me that if your personality is to react in a certain way, then this is beyond your control and just a part of who you are.

So I went looking for some research on this and found a great article: Sherin, J. and Caiger, L. 2004, ‘Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy: A Behavioural Change Model for Executive Coaching’, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 56, No. 4, pp. 225-233.

Here is a key excerpt:

REBT resulted from Ellis’s objective to better understand which specific features of personality caused people to maintain dysfunctional behavioural patterns (Ellis, 1994). Drawing on both Stoic and Adlerian philosophy, he argued that personality was best defined by how people interpret and respond to their environment. He contended that an individual’s emotional and behavioural reactions are determined solely by his or her interpretations of events, not by the events themselves (Neenan & Dryden, 2000).

So the research suggests again that change in behaviour is possible and that personality is not a get-out-of-gaol-free pass for people who react to situations in a certain way. Now the task is to convince them that…

References:
Ellis, A. (1994). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. New York: Birch Lane.
Neenan, M., & Dryden, W. (2000). Essential rational emotive behaviour therapy. London: Whurr.

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Filed under Change Management, Diversity/Bullying and Harassment, Performance Management, Values

Employee Enragement: Why people HATE working for you

By now some of you may or may not have realised, I’m working on some cultural change in my workplace at the moment- and it isn’t easy. No one expects it to be, but then I guess you never realise how hard it is when you have people in a particular industry that aren’t quite like those in the private sector.

In terms of the LSI, the primary styles of the people that I work with are:

Avoidance:

• A strong tendency to deny responsibility for one’s own behaviour
• Feelings of guilt over real or imagined mistakes
• Fear of failure
• A pre-occupation with one’s own concerns
• Lack of self-disclosure that eventually leads to emotional isolation

Approval:

• Low self-esteem
• Pre-occupation with opinions of others
• A tendency to be too agreeable, “wishy-washy” and compliant
• Difficulties with conflict, negotiation and confrontation

Oppositional:

• The ability to ask tough- probing questions
• A tendency to seem aloof and detached from people
• A need to look for flaws in everything
• A tendency to make others feel uncomfortable
• A negative, cynical attitude
• A sarcastic sense of humour

Sounds fun hey…

I was reading “Employee Enragement; Why people hate working for you” by James Adonis and I thought I might share a few key things that I have personally experienced in my working life so far that you may find humourous/appaulling/entertaining (or not!).

Just to give you some background, the book outlines 50 of the top reasons for employee disengagement and while some are quite funny- it is something that our people managers are doing every single day.

#49- Care and compassion: In one of my jobs there was a problem with the air conditioning. You know the story; some people near the glass are sweating while the people in the middle are freezing. Well they did do some testing, and I was sitting in a section of the office that was 14 degrees. I tried to stay warm but I ended up being really ill with a virus after no one would do anything to help me. Despite working really hard for 10 and sometimes 12 hours a day, when I took two days off sick the Senior HR person demanded to know why I wasn’t there and a colleague explained the situation. When I came back she said ‘had a bit of hay fever did we?’. What a cow.

#45- Empowerment: One HR director had to approve everything. And we’re talking down to invitations to induction. If you can’t empower your senior specialist then why are they there?

#41- Office psychopaths: haha so many examples coming to me right now. One I will share that happened to me this week. My workplace has hard floors and long corridors. I am female and I wear heels. This is what was put on my door this week. It is kinda funny, but at the same time- very, very weird. Passive Aggressive much?

quiet shoes

#27- Overworked: Nothing is more important then a person’s health and wellbeing. Sure deadlines will pass, but we are talking about people here. A manager once told me I couldn’t go home after 12 hours and I felt like I might be sick from exhaustion. Please managers- watch your employees and put them first.

#5- Negativity: Everyone must have worked with a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer at some stage. They are draining, exhausting and may or may not be labelled an ‘oxygen thief’ in the team. I’ve encountered many of these and even been one myself at various times. One teammate I worked with threw a tantrum because we were presenting to the management team and I had printed some slides to explain my section and hadn’t told her. It was a last minute thing on my behalf, but I didn’t think it warranted her screaming, throwing things and swearing at me. Not acceptable. For any reason. Ever.

And the number one reason is lazy and underperforming co-workers according to James Adonis. He says that in a lot of companies many people just get paid for turning up rather than on how they perform, and this is very disengaging for the ones who work really hard. This is particularly true for government organisations whose remuneration scales are generally very transparent.

Out of necessity sometimes, managers end up spending more time on the bad employees when they should be dedicating time with the good performers. So what do you do then?

James suggests that you:

1) Train them
2) Motivate them
3) Nuture them
4) And if that doesn’t work sack them!

What do you think??

you_re_fired

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Filed under Change Management, Recommended Readings

Lessons from Mike Shove- CEO CSC Australia

On Wednesday of this week, I was fortunate enough to go along to the 11th Australian Conference on Culture and Leadership presented by Human Synergistics, in Sydney. Having recently used the LSI at my workplace, I was keen for a refresher and also hoped to get some inspiration on how to change behaviour in my workplace when it seems like an impossible task.

Once again, the best way for me to learn is from experience, and that was why it was fantastic listening to Mike Shove (former Managing Director and CEO of CSC Australia).

Mike was a highly engaging speaker and began by explaining his somewhat typical CEO response to a bad start in his role as MD and CEO at CSC. He said that things weren’t going well with his leadership group and business results were poor. He said he responded with some executive coaching and a ‘retreat’ where they you know “hugged some trees”, did some orienteering and had fun.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t work and things continued to worsen. CSC obviously had standards around behaviour, but they were essentially a number based organisation that also needed to achieve its targets.

Mike credits his HR Manager at the time for suggesting that he try the Human Synergistics circumplex; and more specifically the Leadership Impact tool. Mike was happy to give it a go because he thought he was relatively well liked and that he was an effective leader.

Now I’ve seen some bad results but this-hands down- is the worst I have ever seen and by Mike’s own admissions, he holds the world record for worst circumplex. This just makes his success even more incredible.

Mike LI

Where do you even go from there?

Well one of the most important learnings from this process is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Like any personal change, it does take time and like Miley says, it’s all about the climb.

Mike stuck at it, engaged his leadership team and then looked to the organisational culture. It was a long journey but one that derived huge amounts of learning. The results are nothing short of amazing in terms of the impact that it had on the leadership team, organisational culture and also the bottom line.

If this is something that interests you, I would recommend you check out Mike’s presentation on the Human Synergistics site. I know I’ll be sending it around to my staff that have recently completed the process.

One more thing that was truly impressive was a story Mike shared with us about a senior member of staff. Now this guy was a sales type who was achieving amazing results. However, as Mike described there was a trail of blood left by these results, and this was fitting as the circumplex indicated loads of red in terms of competitive, power and oppositional traits. Now many leaders would argue that these traits are what it takes to be that successful sales guy or that as long as he was achieving the targets- it was worth it.

In being committed to what they set out to achieve in terms of culture, Mike spoke with this sales guy and they ended up parting ways. This move is of huge significance to the organisation in terms of behavioural expectations. It sends the message- “it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, you still need to contribute to a positive organisational culture”. This is an action I’m not sure many CEO’s would be willing to take, but sales results kept increasing and CSC never skipped a beat.

What a great example and so many learnings. I hope I’m able to facilitate this kind of change in my workplace because I know the results would be amazing.

Do you have any other stories like this you’d be willing to share?

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Filed under Change Management, Employee Engagement, Events

Some ideas from the Change Blog

Recently, HR Daily featured an article on workplace harassment where claimant Christina Rich received an undisclosed multi-million dollar settlement from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. This was as a result of sexual harassment and victimisation in PwC’s ‘boys club’ environment.

I myself have heard my fair share of poor behaviour in the workplace, from my own experiences to those of friends, colleagues and family members. When I was younger and working at a supermarket I had a manager who used to throw things, yell and swear at staff. When we approached the Store Manager she said that we should be understanding because that’s the way his manager treated him and he didn’t know any better.

Whilst working at another retail store, some team members were involved in an altercation with my brother that resulted in him being hospitalised, a fractured eye socket and having a metal plate put in his face. When I requested not to work with the alleged person as the case was going to court, I was told to get over it by the Store Manager and staff in Head Office. More recently, a friend was told by her employer that they could not afford to pay her anymore due to the GFC. She is currently being underpaid quite a few dollars per hour according to the award wage.

Change

Perhaps these experiences are what led me to work in HR. To look after people, but also to make things more effective.

If we think about cultural change in an organisation, it relates back to what I was talking about yesterday- it starts with changing the way an individual thinks. Now we’ve established that this is a difficult task and one which comes down to the old story about leading a horse to water. Sometimes you get to the point where you’d rather drown the horse than trying to get it to drink water!

Then this morning I came across the Change Blog and felt a little inspired reading a few of the articles. I’m hoping it might give me a few ideas and encourage others along to make personal change.

Here is an excerpt from the blog if you are interested:
Can we change? Yes we can.
Hi, my name is Peter and welcome to my corner of cyberspace.
I started blogging in 2007 to share my personal story of change. To cut a long story short, I know what it is like to be depressed and drifting through life without purpose. My wake up call came in 2006 when I received the unexpected news I was to be a father. This news was the catalyst for me getting my life in order, and these days I am happy to report that life is great.

He doesn’t profess to know all the answers, but it is refreshing to hear someone speak of their personal experiences and he has some pretty good guest posts as well. He talks about why self-awareness is so important to personal growth, health and fitness, career and life- so it’s a holistic approach. If you have some spare time, check it out or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Filed under Change Management, Diversity/Bullying and Harassment

Helping people change by changing the way they think

Although the blog has been quiet for a few days, I can assure you that there has been a lot of movement for me behind the scenes in my personal life and in the world of work.

I’ve spoken about change quite a bit before, but I’ve somewhat hit a wall in being able to influence personal change on others. Even when I write that down, I know it doesn’t make sense.

You can’t make someone else change, but what if you just want to help them out of a dark place they are in that doesn’t make any sense.

Do you persist or let them go?

homer-brain

We see this in our workplaces all the time. These are people who believe:

* It’s okay to behave badly because that’s the way their boss treated them
* That the environment/company makes them so stressed that their reaction (no matter how poor) is natural, and therefore ok
* That if someone else provokes them or attacks them first- this gives them the right to attack back. It’s all justified if someone else starts it.

We also see it in our personal lives.

With depression and other mental illnesses becoming more publicized, we all know someone who isn’t seeing things as they really are, or are seeing things in a much more negative light.

In thinking about all of this, I often try to remember some basic cognitive behavioural therapy in that there is the event, our thoughts and then our reaction.

There are some things we can control, and other things we can’t. We can’t control the event or the situation but we can control the way we think about it and that impacts on our behaviour and how we choose to respond or react.

What I’m really struggling with is how to convince people of this idea. Have you ever needed to convince people that they can change their behaviour by changing the way they think?

If you have I would love to hear your story- feel free to change individual or organizational names. I think these sorts of stories will be inspiring to others so please share your success story.

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Filed under Change Management, Performance Management

Helping your employees manage change in uncertain times

This morning I was reading an article by Towers Perrin called ‘Ten Tips to Help Your Employees Manage Change in Uncertain Times’ and they had a couple of great ideas that I really loved.

Of course there are the commonly articulated tips like for example, make sure you clarify your strategy and vision for dealing with the economic uncertainty as this will help you communicate the goals and priorities to employees. Communication during times of change is talked about a lot but often not done very well (see an earlier post on this).

change3

I love the idea of setting up a web site where employees can learn what your company is doing — and what your competitors are doing — to manage the crisis. It shows huge transparency and can help employees to feel a lot less angst and even paranoia, during these change periods. In order to build trust, you need to ensure that staff have access to the knowledge it needs to deal with the current situation.

They also suggest sending a weekly e-mail update with successes and challenges. They say that employees respect when leadership is candid, and by communicating with your people, you’ll help them gain confidence in the organization’s future. What a great idea- although I’ve always been a fan of leaders who touch base with their people even if its to say ‘there is no news’.

Another good idea is to meet with groups of employees to listen to their concerns and take onboard their solutions. Some of the best ideas come from the frontline, and this is also true with organisational change. Embrace their opinions and participation, and they will feel valued by the organisation and more committed to seeing out the changes required to ensure future success.

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Filed under Change Management, Recommended Readings

Communication Strategies and Organisational Change

Previously I’ve spoken about organisational change, change management and emotional intelligence which are all timely issues right now. In addition to these areas, I like to highlight the importance of the communications strategy in managing organisational change.

Covin and Kilman’s (1990) research note that:

‘Failure to share information or to inform people adequately of what changes are necessary and why they are necessary were viewed as having a highly negative impact. Secrecy, dishonesty, and the failure to assess dysfunctional rumours were also issues of concern’.

direct_communication_marketing

Hence, a positive communication strategy would involve announcing the change early (even if incomplete); establishing an information timeline; commenting on the inability to give further information; clarifying the values and protocol for change decisions; tailoring each communication to the intended audience and finally, involving those affected by the changes in as much planning as possible (DiFonzo and Bordia. 1998).

This is a particularly key point as participation in the process can greatly assist in reducing employee resistance to change (Robbins, Waters-Marsh, Cacioppe and Millett. 1994), however full participation in the processes is not always possible due to the nature and sensitivity required by some changes (such as a restructure) and time constraints. It is also wise to use a variety of media to deliver your messages, however face-to-face should always remain the preferred medium.

Finally, it’s important from a HR standpoint to view the communication process and the implementation of organizational change as inextricably linked processes (Lewis. 1999) that must be carried out systematically in order to assist people to cope with change and achieve a positive impact upon the business.

Do you know of any good or bad examples of organisations trying to communicate change?

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Filed under Change Management, Communication