Mike Hourigan, Managing Change Keynote Speaker

Change Management Speaker Mike Hourigan

“How Far Does Anger Get Us?”

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So, let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” –Jack Layton, Canadian Politician and Writer

As a motivational change management keynote speaker, I have seen far too many good people in great and not-so-great organizations react to change with only one emotion: anger. In my change management work with groups of people or one-on-one consulting with executive leaders, I surely understand the anger, however I warn people against having lengthy pity-parties or holding onto their anger.

It does no good, it leads nowhere.

Angry at the change itself
Kevin Miller, an IT professional who has guided many hi-tech professionals through change recently stated:
“The anger stage is natural and unavoidable, but it can be short. A good leader embraces it, since it shows progress and provides you an opportunity to help.”

However, the operative word in Miller’s statement is “short.” He continued,

“Supporters [of change] will enter the anger stage when they don’t see continual commitment from leadership, and then they’ll slip back into the denial stage, thinking the change will not get implemented.”

Recently, I have been working with a corporation in the transportation sector that is in the process of closing a light manufacturing facility. There is no doubt, the company is closing by the end of this year.
When they first announced the closure about 18-months ago, there was a lot of anger. It was understandable as the company has been in the town for nearly 60-years and they have great benefits.

The company told everyone they would pay employees in full to get their Associates Degrees at the local junior college, or pay for two-years of college to any state school or help them to get valuable certifications in various manufacturing processes. Do you know how many employees took advantage of the offer?

Of the hundreds of employees affected, about 10-percent. So, about 35-employees are enrolled in the junior college or finishing their paid education in college programs or earning manufacturing certifications all free-of-charge.
The company even brought in professional resume writers and placement professionals. Again, about 10-percent (pretty much the same 10-percent) took advantage of the offer.

And the rest?
Call it human nature, or plain-old fear, but nearly 90-percent of the remaining workers somehow convinced themselves the company was bluffing. The angry response to change was to do nothing. The sentiment of the angry employees was “Well, they’ve been part of this area since 1967, they’ll never close the doors.”

Guess what? The crews to dismantle the machinery have started to close down the factory. Now the 90-percent are good and angry. Unfortunately, they will have to figure out how to write resumes, learn new skills and improve their educational levels on their own.
My role as a change management speaker and consultant is to help those employees better transition. I understand their fears over losing competence, over having to lose their status and to head off in a new direction, but I listen to their anger only in bits and pieces. The anger no longer serves them. It is a time waster. Now, the fears of an impending plant closure are real.

Perhaps management was somewhat at fault for not beating the drum of the plant closure loud enough, but I saw the files of memos sent out from HR. The company was consistent but many of the affected workers would have rather complained and angrily pointed fingers than to accept the reality of change.

As to my initial question, “How Far Does Anger Get Us?” It doesn’t. All the anger at change, be it a plant closing, merger or acquisition, new equipment, new policies, whatever, will not alter the path.
As the old expression goes, “Be the change.” Start with yourself. Angrily sympathizing with others doesn’t help the cause. Taking positive action is the only way to go.

To contact Mike Hourigan, Change Management Motivational Speaker and Consultant, please call Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.

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    Mike does much more than present one-of-a-kind keynote speeches - he provides fun and fact filled breakout sessions as well as dynamic training programs for numerous organizations like Marriott, Disney, Harley-Davidson and even the U.S. Army.