Culture of Change

In your organization or on your team, think for a moment about what you'd most like to see happen over the next 6 months to 2 years. Give yourself a minute...

Now would you say your greatest vision for your team or your organization is:

  1. Do what we're doing, only better, more effectively or more efficiently?
  2. Do something somewhat different than what we do now?
  3. Do something radically different than what we do now?

How do you think your boss would answer? What number would you pick if you were going to choose for them?  Finally, what would you say is the prevailing pick for the rest of the organization? Include people at all levels.

One large part of what passes for "culture" of an organization is the collective response to this question. If the prevailing mindset at your place of business is #3 and you're a #1, you're probably very uncomfortable with all the chaos. You probably remain unsettled with the daily uncertainty of the change taking place. You may even be frustrated by your inability (or your boss's) to "control" things.

What about people who would choose #3, to be radically different? Do you find yourself struggling with everyone in the building (or at least most people) about change? Do your co-workers and peers look at you with a puzzled look every time you make a suggestion? Is your discomfort with the organization met with resistance from just about every front?

How do you see the gap between your answer and your organization's collective answer when it comes to employee engagement and job satisfaction? Do you see yourself (or others) agreeing at work but disagreeing in some other context? For example, are you OK with the direction of your workplace, but not your church or non-profit?

The need to align your change tolerance with that of your organization can be a huge factor in employee satisfaction. The greater the distance between the employee's change tolerance and that of the organization, the greater the tension.  I know this first hand due to several job changes I've made in the past.  This change tolerance, or change bias, is an important factor in employee satisfaction. Employees who don't fit, often are unsatisfied in their role in the company but they are unable to explain why.  Employees often don't understand how to communicate the tension they feel between their answer and their boss' answer. I changed several jobs in my past mostly due to this very discrepancy. Have you?

So, do you agree with this assessment?  Would you share any tips for people who feel disconnected?  What would you recommend to people who feel like they're in the change tolerance minority?  Also, if you're in the middle, or if you disagree with my premise, sound off. What is it that enables people to manage this gap?

Finally, if you categorize yourself more as a #2, above, please reply to this post and help me out. I think you're pretty settled in your job. I'd guess you don't necessarily live for Friday and watch the clock. I'd expect you volunteer for initiatives at work and do more than is expected of you. I'd bet you are perceived as a great employee by your peers and your boss, unless of course any of those are a #1 or a #3.  Please respond and let us know which choice you'd make above and if you're a "fit" where you are.

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