In times of change, “What’s in it for ME?” (WIIFM) is the “BIG” question everyone wants an answer to as soon as possible. Basically, we are all self-centered so this should be no surprise.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to see that the communications are clear, concise and authentic. Where possible, we need to understand another component in change and that is “What’s in it for “US” as a group?” The answers to question WIIFM can actually be included with a WIIFUS response.
In my experience, the biggest mistake most leaders make when trying to change something in the life or structure of the enterprise is to lead by announcement, by propaganda, or—worse yet—by executive dictate.
What may make perfect sense in your mind may not be understood so clearly by the rest of the organization. To you, the idea is completely logical. Trouble is, to win the support of others you must appeal to the intellectual and emotional bandwidth of people.
Could the solution to resistance to change be a simple act of unlearning? Let’s look into this and see just how complex this statement really is for humans.
Lao Tzu said, “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
Peter Drucker said it another way, “We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”
Today, let’s examine how you handle actions in the workplace.
Are you reactive to the events occurring within your environment and around you or do you take initiative to prepare for, participate in and/or control the events?
Do you intentionally take an active or passive role? Do you think in terms of the present or do you look to the future, anticipating outcomes and preparing for the consequences?
Are you a procrastinator in terms of making make a decision? Do you only make decisions when you have to, when you’re backed into a corner or when you’ve put it off for as long as you can? Or do you make conscious, intentional decisions as part of a larger, long-term plan?
How you answered these questions can have a profound effect on your career and company. I find that to be successful today every leader must have a laser focus and proactive, so here is how I view F.O.C.U.S.:
I have been a fan of the TV program NCIS since it was originally released. I have loved it for a number of reasons but most of all because of the focus on Gibb’s rules as a core of operations for the team. There are 50+ of these rules that have cropped up in many of the episodes over the 11 seasons.
One of the aspects of Gibb’s rules, that I like, is they are dynamic and change as attitudes and underlying values change which is important for growth. While you need to retain some rigidity, the flexibility allows you to balance responses and reactions
These rules have their foundation from Gibb’s values and time leading black ops missions while he was a Marine. They were adapted to his work with the NCIS investigative team so they have a tendency to be reactive or military based.
While I agree we can apply many of the characteristics of military engagement to business, I find they are limited because the motivations are different. In reality, nothing we do in business is truly life threatening or based on imminent physical danger. Yes, there are those who have this perception but it is rarely fatal to an individual.
As a leader, you are probably interested in the sustainability of your company, if you’re not then it may be time to find something else to do for a living. The key to continually being on the sustainable path, you really need to focus building blocks that can provide the base of a culture of innovation. That’s because, in a fast-moving, VUCA world, where people expect things to get better and better, and cheaper and cheaper, innovation is your primary tool that can be used to get ahead of your competition and stay there.
Innovation is not some mystical, close your eyes and with wishful thinking have something appear that is new, improved or revolutionary. It is something that must be done intentionally, proactively and with full participation by all within the company. Building blocks can make it easier for everyone.
Our brain was never designed to just trap and retain information, in reality it was created to allow us to generate thoughts and ideas. So often you retain so much useless trivia that it may actually hamper our ability to think creatively.
When you have a job, you are paid to exercise thought power in the execution of plans and processes so it is important to understand how to avoid burnout and be productive at work, at home and in society in general.
I am often asked questions regarding technical and process certifications and I usually always give the same answer, “well, it depends”. With the rapid changes that go on within the technology arena there are new, better and even revolutionary certifications arising daily. Given that, it is not unusual that developers’ interest in technical certifications continue to increase.
Do you ever wonder about the value of earning a technical certification or if the benefits of such a certification would be worth the effort and cost involved? As I said before “It Depends”. Because much of the value of a technical certification is in the eye of the beholder, therefore this is not easy to answer.
Ultimately, I believe that everyone wants to be known for being productive and efficient, but not everyone shares the same definition of effective job performance. In reality, if you determine the reality of limited resources, you’ll generally find that misaligned expectations between leadership and employees is the primary reason many requests are denied. It should not be surprising that this results in workplace disengagement, poor morale, reduced productivity and declining financial performance. If the cycle continues; investments in this deteriorating environment are even less likely to be made.
I have been pondering this question for some time and I finally have a clear understanding of the topic. Are you a leader because you want to leave a “legend” or a “legacy”? This can be a highly controversial topic because many leaders really don’t get this. In fact, I might even venture to say that most leaders don’t get this.
In reality, the true measure of your success or lack of success won’t be determined until after you are gone. Months and years after your departure will reveal what kind of leader you were.
While we often associate these words with the process that takes place after our death, I believe it applies anytime we change roles, companies or even retirement.
If you haven’t noticed, we live in an ever-changing world, personally, business and socially. I can’t guarantee much but I can guarantee that many things you are comfortable with today will change in the next 12 months. If you are a leader you are not only involved in change but you often initiate change so your ability to understand the impact of change is monumental.
Everything evolves, improves or devolves and disappears. We want things to get better as long as we don’t have to be inconvenienced or affected so there is the paradox. We can’t have it both ways! Therefore, I want to tackle a very controversial topic that everyone must deal with.
Examples of changes I have experienced:
Most major retailers today have introduced self-checkout but we continue to see long lines where there are two checkers and hardly anyone at the self-checkout machines. Each in the line is mumbling, “They should just hire more check-out people. I don’t want to use those”. Trust me, there will be more self-checkout machines and less checkers in years to come. I would even suggest we will see an order online and pick up at the store getting more press. I have embraced the changes and help people understand them better.
Growing up in Minnesota, we didn’t have TV until the early 50’s. We could only get 3 channels and NO remote control. Yes, it was Black & White only. Just when we were comfortable, color became the big rage so another change. In the 80’s we saw the introduction of cable with many channels available. Now, we began the struggle with what do we watch? Change but we prevailed. I embraced the changes how about you.
In 1977 I bought my first computer, it was a TRS 80 with 4K of ram and wrote to a cassette tape and I was excited. In 1981, after many computer upgrades, I began to travel the internet and that was exciting. You needed to have some background in UNIX to navigate it well but it was fun. Today, my iPhone is so superior to my first computer that it is immeasurable in terms of quantity and quality of experience. What’s wrong with change? Why do we resist something better? Does your business embrace this change effectively?
In terms of work environments over the years, I have seen a move from a strong industrially based society to one with the emphasis on knowledge management. Management is evolving from command and control to collaborative leadership with an emphasis on transparency, authenticity and trust. Here we are seeing a lot of resistance, much of it due to fear. I continue to not only embrace but champion this change.
Are people who hate change or refuse to change fighting a losing battle? In my opinion, YES!
Personally, I believe change is hard-wired into our universe. Seasons are a perfect indicator, winter becomes spring, spring becomes summer, summer becomes fall and fall becomes winter. We often perceive that this year will move faster than previous years but it will move at the same pace chronologically. It is technology that is the accelerant, it makes things appear to happen faster, albeit instantaneously.
Here are some examples of current and future changes:
You can order almost any product or services from the privacy of your own home almost on a 24/7 basis. Now this has some good points and some negative points depending on your point of view. For example, brick & mortar retail has been forced to change from the primary distributor of goods to the provider of entertainment in the process of providing the same products or services. Finding a competitive advantage can be very elusive if you can’t think outside the box.
Physicians and other medical professionals are able to be reached by video sources and actually diagnose or prescribe medications with ease and efficiency. They can schedule appointments provide common results via email. Limits the excuses we have for going to the doctor, at least scheduling an appointment.
Conference calls can now be done with an active video on a real-time basis using tools like Zoom.US, Skype and others. The quality is actually as good as being face to face but without the expenses in a global environment. This is a good replacement for face to face interactions but it will not replace the trust, emotion and value that does come from a regular in person meeting. Still the change is good.
Driverless cars are on the near future horizon, so how do you feel about it? I love driving but the more I have thought about the process, I am ready to embrace the idea. No more fretting with traffic jams, irrational actions by other drives, or bad weather. I look forward to being able to use commute time for learning and preparation rather than concentrating on the road. Will it impact a number of other industries, absolutely so if these industries are not proactive they will become as extinct as the Dodo bird?
More and more examples or occurring daily. Will you embrace the change or drag your heals kicking and screaming? Yes, some changes are more difficult than others but our attitude about change is a choice that we make every day. You have control of how you address the issues but if you choose to fight a change, understand that it will not be easy and the cost may be high, personally and corporately.
Continuing to resist change usually does us no good. We should prepare ourselves by shifting our hearts and minds to the perception that most change is good and good for many. Change should make things easier and better.
Resisting something takes a lot of energy. It will force you to challenge your values and mores to ensure they are unconditionally sound. There will be some changes that your values won’t allow you to take advantage of, but as with all change the choice is yours.
Here are some questions I ask myself when looking at change:
Is the change necessary and who determined the necessity?
Is it morally and socially acceptable based on my current view of honesty, integrity and transparency? Does it violate my view of right and wrong?
Who will be effected the most? Myself, my family, my community, my country, a small group, a privileged group or the whole of civilization?
Will the change have an impact on other industries and how will that impact be accepted by that group?
Does the potential benefit of the change outweigh the costs personally, financially, socially and spiritually?
Will my world be improved or destroyed by accepting the change?
Is it something that I need to meditate or pray about before acknowledging?
With these seven questions you have the ability to make a choice about the change. But remember participation in the transition of change may be uncomfortable at first. However, it can also add to your energy, therefore providing you with more energy to devote to something else.
Using your energy to resist change can be wasteful and futile. Also remember that most changes are not life threatening now or in the immediate future. In the end, you have the power to determine the quality and effectiveness of your life, work and leadership by your response to our ever-changing world.
If you would like to have a workshop for your employees to help facilitate a change please check out the Transformative Leadership website or call me at 630-454-4821.