A few months back as I was poking around on social media I saw that a colleague of mine received a promotion at the organization she was at from a service delivery lead to the manager of change management. While I knew that the role was a new one for her, I understood that there were many consistencies between working relationships and team members. The big difference was that she was now the manager of a small team and the owner of the change management process. But I knew that she was always up for challenges and she would be getting her game face on.
Recently I bumped into her and asked how things were shaking out and she indicated that she actually liked the old job better. After asking why, she explained that initially things seemed to be going good but then her director indicated that she was too nice and that she should ‘drop the hammer’ on people more often.
I was surprised since having worked with her she always seemed fair but firm. She continued to explain that while people were following the process the leadership was worried that people might start to go off course if they weren’t reeled in. In some cases she thought that they were ok with her being a bit tough on some people and maybe not so much on others.
I asked her what her plan was.
She said that to start with everyone knows what is expected of them from the time a change was submitted until it was closed, and that wasn’t about to change. In fact she went on to say that since she took over people started to indicate that they felt more comfortable asking her questions than her predecessor (who apparently was released due his ‘good nature’)
My suggestion was to look at the big picture and relay that you can ‘drop the hammer’ but there will be consequences in doing so. The thing I told her to remember there is a big difference in challenging people on some questionable details in a change, as compared with rejecting a change because people were missing some fields or details that could be easily attained. A mentor of mine once said that you need to pick your battles and if the outcome has an adverse effect which is worse than getting someone to fill in the form then you need to make some decisions. This isn’t to say that you can’t coach, teach and steer people in the right direction, on the contrary. You just need to figure out the weight at which you apply the force. After all we are already facing a PR challenge with the business when we can’t be nimble enough to manage changes at the rate the business may be looking for.
Further to this I explained that she should have a frank discussion with the leaders who are seeing an issue. Managing change management after all is a juggling act of technical understanding, governance and people skills.
She agreed, and decided that not only discussing with the leadership team but also showing that there was a measurable improvement in the adoption of changes since she took over the new role was also worth discussing.