Changing Our Inheritance

At some point, Boomers will actually start walking out the door. When they do, Gen X will be asked to step up and lead. Once that happens, you need to fundamentally ask yourself about change. What kind of change will enable the organization to grow, what type of change is needed to engage your people and how can you create sustainable change that doesn’t revert to the old? It’s really a question of how do you make change in an organization that you’ve inherited?

Creating change at the organizational level of system is already difficult. Compound that with a leadership transition and it becomes even more challenging. It requires a great deal of tact. And it requires a strong leader to help get out in front the change, create the environment to support and foster the change and to build the space for people to effectively move through the various emotional stages of change.

People in your organization may tell you that change is needed and most likely they recognize that it’s coming, but that doesn’t mean they’re really ready for it. You can’t change people. They are out of your control. People need to change on their own, at their own pace and in their own time. However, it is possible and necessary, for you to change the conditions, the rewards, the processes and the structures in support of your change.

The reason most change initiatives fail is that the majority of plans that I have seen take all of the physical and tangible elements into account, but they leave out the human element. The emotional and cultural components. The trap many of us fall into is that we don’t buy into the idea that emotions and culture matter at work. We don’t fully understand that simply changing the mechanics of an organization does very little to change the way people actually cooperate and interact to get work done. In times of stress we revert to our “in” groups. We become more of who we are, and we tend to search for familiar patterns.

As a potential leader of your organization, you need to recognize that change won’t be easy. And most importantly, when it’s time for you to make that change happen, you need to understand and recognize how people will interpret the change and how they will respond to it. You know you’re intelligent, you know it’s baseline for your role. And now with this raised awareness, you’re emotionally intelligent enough to make this change work.

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