Two years of previous work experience and I felt like a pro. I felt it was time for me to change jobs because I was becoming bored and yes you guessed right… the pay wasn’t worth it anymore, but above all I saw myself as having “arrived”. I started applying massively and yes, finally the interview invitation came but to my amazement, not the experienced positions, but a management trainee program… again? My body rejected the offer, but my soul did not. Like most experienced applicants, full of life and the know-all attitude, I went through the profile of the company and the international project the company was to hire for and was able to gather some information.
Then came the big day, I was not my usual bubbly self just because it is a management trainee position, but then I tried my best in the interview and got a call to come for my appointment letter some weeks after. I decided to resign to take up new challenge not minding the designation and even the pay as it was in the same range with my former place of work.
First day at work, the induction was good, but then you could see fear, skepticism and resignation in the eyes of all staff yet the trainees could not fathom what the problem really was. The project manager of the international project rolled out the plan/strategy and aims of the project after the induction which was mainly about the transformation of the organization to world standard in all facets. How do we achieve these was what came out of the mouth of one of us. The project manager smiled and asked why such question?
The man answered, I do not think I can survive in this environment; the staff is unfriendly and not welcoming. Then, the project managers said “truly the staffers are afraid because you all are brought in for a change”, this change will come only if you understand that:
Change does not come in handy, it is a process
The process is not always readily available, you have to create it to suit each situation
To change people or organizational culture, you have to be unyielding no matter who’s ox is gored
You have to respect the system and practice what you preach
Patience! Patience! Patience!
That was the beginning of my journey into change management. Change management may be for a certain part of the organization or for the organization as a whole. It is a process that requires a lot of patience and determination as the result is “fulfillment” if every identified loophole gets touched and necessary solutions proffered.
My story continues…
Some months later, a colleague (one of the new intakes), met a staff attending rudely to a client. He called the staff aside and told him to take it easy with the client. The staff replied by saying, if you do not treat them that way, then you will waste so much time trying to please them. My colleague could not understand, hence he reminded the staff of one of the organization’s core values – Simplicity (in operation and character) and left. He narrated the story to us at the next meeting. The project manager after hearing our reactions to the story told us the following:
Change could come in any form, but the scenario depicted in the narrative showed that it was not the problem of the staff only, but the organization. So in this case, being an organization-wide problem, the following options or the combination of all will help address the issue
Organizational development: This is a change tool that sees to change of attitude to organization’s culture and implementation of values.
Core Values take-in: Yes, this is what have been thought or mostly learnt every day in the organization, but its usage and living by it in our daily organizational life matters a lot. Continuous reminder of this to all staff is key to changing so many flops in the daily operations of any organization
Involvement and buy-in: All staff should be involved and buy-in should be solicited
Lastly, build a guiding team
The project dealt with the identified changes using the above methods… how?
All identified problems that needed to be changed to meet global standard were penciled down
The organization bought the staff in and got them involved by enlightening them about the importance of the organization to change certain things
The mission and vision of the organization was well interpreted to fit the change
Organizational development workshop was done in a departmental manner to generate ideas and strike out challenges to implementing solutions to identified changes. This also brought about buy-in
A guiding team which comprises of existing staff and new staff chosen from all the departments of the organization was formed to monitor and give progress reports
As I write, the first answer of the project manager still lingers in my brain. Change process is sweet if one is patient to go gradual in implementing solutions.
Adetokun Adedayo is a human resource/ Management development specialist with flair for talent development, capacity building and strategy formulation