– The theme song from the blockbuster movie, Ghostbusters, had a recurring refrain, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” Bill Murray and the rest of the Ghostbusters were not afraid of the ghosts, but they were terrified of what the ghosts could do to them, the ghosts could slime them.
When it comes to change management, the same premise is true, people are not afraid of the change – they are afraid of what the change can do to them.
Change can be a lot like slime because it oozes everywhere and no one wants to get it on them.
Most change management initiatives start out with goals, timelines and logical end results. The appropriate emails are sent out, new slogans are developed; even coffee cups with pithy slogans are given out to everyone. Unfortunately, none of these address the underlying reasons why change programs can fail. Change programs can fail because they create an interesting form of slime called the “ooze of uncertainty.”
Here are forms the “ooze of uncertainty” make take: first form of ooze is the fear people have about how the change is going to affect them personally and the second form of ooze is almost mercurial, because it spreads itself everywhere – you can never pick it all up or know where it all goes.
The first form of ooze is called fear. People fear change for a lot of reasons, but the primary reason is people fear they will lose their job competence. Generally, people feel their ability to do their job well affords them a certain level of job security. When change involves changing people’s core responsibilities, people may feel like they are being asked to perform a high wire act without a net. Fear can eke into everyday work functions like communications with co-workers, bosses and even customers. This fear of incompetence can manifest itself in stalled decisions, less than truthful answers, wasted time, paranoid self-searching, and pursuing options outside of the company.
When employees are operating from a position of fear, it creates the perfect environment for the slime to spread. The ooze starts to spread to areas like Human Resources, IT, and even sales. People will spend more time online researching their vesting rights and 401K benefits; others will contact Human Resources to check anniversary dates, severance packages, vacation rules, COBRA rights, and probe for any information about what is really going on.
IT departments can feel the effects of the “ooze of uncertainty” as they are peppered with unnecessary questions about what new information bosses are gathering, what reports have been moved to the front of the line, and how they are being evaluated.
All of these unproductive and unnecessary activities start to slow down productivity, as the ooze morphs into rumors, blame, fault finding and even people deciding to jump ship.
So, how are you going to prevent the slime of change from permeating your organization? You can start by preventing “the ooze of uncertainty” from forming by understanding the change process. The change process, like people’s emotions, is predictable and if something is predictable, a plan can be established to prevent it. So invest the time to understand the change process and the fears it creates, in advance of any new change management program and you “won’t be afraid of no ghost, err, change.
Contactl Mike at 1-888-PRO-KEYNOTE to book him for your next sales meeting.