December 3, 2019
I’ve been working with a particular organisation for a number of years, consulting in a number of different areas and the top two people in the organisation who are my key contacts have decided to move on. They’ve put a new person in the role. Of course, I made the time to go and see this person. This person had only been in the role for three weeks, a senior role. When we were having our conversation, I discovered that in that three weeks she had already made decisions to make some major changes in terms of what was happening with the organisational development of the company.
Part of that change was in fact turning down some of the interventions that we had recently put in place. That was of course quite disappointing for me, but as I mentioned to her, one of the things that I was thinking about was, is it really sensible when you first come into an organisation, in a short period of time, to start making changes when you really don’t understand the internal workings of the particular organisation? If you don’t understand the cadence of the organisation, is it sensible to start making changes? In the conversation with her, one of the things I suggested was that anyone can bring a model or a series of models on change, anyone can talk to a power point slide. However, as a senior leader one of the challenges that you have is actually influencing people. Especially if you’re in a position where you have very little authority on your peers and you are trying to propose changes, you need to get buy in from other senior leaders in the organisation. If it doesn’t make sense to them, then they are not going to be on board.
I think one of the first things that you need to do when you are a new leader of a team, or you’re taking over a different organisation and a different part of the world as a global leader, I think it makes perfect sense to sit back, watch, and learn for a period of time. I appreciate that that’s my bias and that’s my style. I think though, it makes a lot more sense to just sit back. Get a feel for the culture of the organisation. Get a feel of the culture of the group. Talk to some people. Get to understand what are their aspirations? What are some of the challenges? What’s worked in the past? What’s been successful? What hasn’t been successful? So that you get a sense of what’s kind of happening. Try to identify who are the formal and informal leaders in the organisation? Identify how do decisions get made? Who are the people you need to have on board if you want to have successful change initiatives happening?
If you do that then you’ll be able to message the changes that you want to make accordingly to the cadence of the organisation. The counter argument to that may be that you are in there to create change and disrupt the flow. I take that on board. I would argue though, if you are there to disrupt the flow then you need to actually understand what the flow is before you can actually disrupt it in the first place. Here’s my reflection point for you. What’s the cadence of your particular team? What’s the cadence of your organisation? Are you able to articulate that? Are you in-sync with it? If you wanted to change the cadence of your group, then what do you need to do?