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Change Sucks!

by David Brock on April 23rd, 2015

Change sucks, particularly when it’s inflicted on us.

Often, don’t understand what’s going on, why, what it means to what we should be doing.  We’re asked to do new things, sometimes things we don’t know how to do, sometimes things we don’t like to do or want to do.

The natural tendency is to resist.  To go back to what you were comfortable with doing in the past.  To complain to management and complain about management.

Sometimes, we think, “This too will pass,” so we ignore things, keep our heads down, do what we always did, and hope we can get by without management paying attention.

Shame on any management team that doesn’t engage people in the process.  Shame on those who don’t address concerns about why, what it means to each person, what new things everyone should be doing, what old things should be stopped.  Shame on any management team that isn’t providing the training, skills, tools, and coaching to help people understand and execute!


Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems.  Now that all those things are done, you may not like the changes, but it’s your job to jump on the bandwagon, own the changes, and embrace them.

We don’t get to not change.  We don’t get to opt out–unless we choose to leave the organization and get a new job.

Recently, I had a conversation with a sales person.  She was very upset, considered that she was working in a “Hostile Workplace.”  You can guess how my ears perked up in hearing that.

I asked why she considered it Hostile. The response was, “They are making me do new things.  They are making me change what I used to do and I don’t like it.”  The list of complaints went on.

I asked if she understood why management was driving the changes.  She responded, “Well, we weren’t achieving our goals….competition is beating us….sales are declining….we’ve had to go through rounds or lay off’s…..”

I then said, “Well, doesn’t it make sense to change what we are doing and how we are doing it?  Aren’t the changes focused on more effectively achieving your goals?”

She replied, “Well, yes, but I still don’t like it and I don’t like them forcing me to do it!”

I asked, “If you don’t change and do these things, then you won’t make your goals, isn’t that correct?”

She wasn’t liking what she was hearing.

I went on, “Clearly, your job has changed.  The management team has talked about the changes, they’ve provided you tools and training, they’re working with you to make sure you can perform in this new environment.  So what’s wrong?  Why do you consider this a Hostile Workplace?”

She wasn’t liking what I was saying, she was still resisting, “Well I don’t like it.  I don’t want to do these things.  Making me do it is creating a very uncomfortable environment!  I really want to do things my way!”

I replied, “Then if you are so uncomfortable, you probably really should think about whether you want to continue to work here.  If you feel so strongly, you may be better off working someplace else.  You need to decide and take responsibility for the decision.”

Clearly, it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.  I don’t know what she will do.  If she chooses to do nothing, but stay with the company, then she will ultimately be fired because she isn’t doing her job.  And she deserves that.

I’m not real sympathetic with these types of discussions.  Each of us always has a choice.  If our managers and company are driving changes that we don’t understand, that’s one thing.  But if we disagree, if we don’t jump onboard wholeheartedly, then we need to leave.  Our jobs may change.  If we choose not to do our new jobs, then we are choosing to leave the company.

When we choose to work for a company, there are certain things we must do.  Some of them are “conditions of employment,” some are simply requirements of doing our jobs.  By working for a company, we are saying, “I am agreeing to do those things they are asking me to do.”  If we don’t agree, we have no place working for that company.  We won’t be successful, we won’t be happy.

Our companies need to change, so sometimes the “rules/jobs” change.  We have to decide whether we want to do these new things or not.  Choosing not to do them means a choice to leave.

Manager’s need to have the courage to have these discussions with people.  It’s not about forcing them to change, it’s giving them the opportunity to choose.  If they choose not to change, then they have to understand the consequences of that choice.  But people need to be given that choice and must take responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make.

Change sometimes sucks.  If we don’t like it, we always have choices.

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  1. Richard Young permalink

    People aren’t afraid of change. Their just afraid of change by other people.

    • Totally agree Richard, that’s why it’s so important to engage our people in understanding and owning the change. But sometimes, in spite of everything we do, people will resist–some for good reasons, some for bad.

      This is where the real challenge comes in change management. How do we deal with those? Thanks, as always, for the great comment.

  2. John Sterrett permalink

    For a long time I worked for a company that instituted a “program of the year” a “program of the month” and a “program of the week”, all of which always seemed arbitrary, and none of which seemed focused on improving the workplace or increasing sales. They changed pay plans every year, choosing something different on which to incentivize the sales staff, and then seemed surprised when we focused on selling that item to the exclusion of other, or even traditional business.

    I found out after a while that middle managers were given bonuses for coming up with new and unique “programs”, that could be rolled out to the sales staff. Many of these managers had no sales experience, and really didn’t care about the impact, as long as they got their bonus. We started to ignore the ‘programs’ and focused on our job, amazingly with no repercussions. I call this ignorant management for management’s sake.

    In my current position, rather than being blindsided and waylaid by change, I drive change by making timely and convincing arguments to my boss and his boss on how we could improve sales, what tools would really impact the bottom line and where we need to change focus. I take initiative to improve my skill set and adapt to changing markets proactively. The old adage? “Stand still and the world will pass you by.”

    • John, great points. There is no end to management fascination and wishful thinking around “programs du jour.” Likewise, there are just shameful practices in introducing change, engaging people in the change process. But your example of “ignoring the programs” intrigues me. It’s not just ignorant management, it’s inept management. The shame of it, is no one knows whether the programs would have worked on not because management didn’t have the courage or follow through to introduce them effectively and make it impossible to opt out.

      Thanks for the great comment.

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