Sometimes it’s Good Not to Talk about Change

So the festivities of the holiday season are now upon us and for many people this will be an opportunity to take a break from work and to spend quality time with friends, family or other loved ones in their life. Some people will have the luxury of the whole week off and others just part of it, but however you approach this time of year and whatever work free time you have, it is good to switch off and wind down and not think about work for some time. I think of it as the annual battery recharge.

So how does this bring me to change management thoughts? For many businesses they rush headlong into change, and in whatever capacity they employ (or don’t!) the services of a change manager the pressure is on to “make it happen” as soon as possible, if not earlier! Even though engagement and communications are paramount to making the change happen, sometimes it’s good to stand back and fall silent for a while and let each person think on the change.

For me a time of silence can be just as important and beneficial as any amount of engagement. Have you ever been in one of those meetings when everyone is talking around you and all you can here is noise? That’s a time for silence and regrouping. Unfortunately the egos of some people you may encounter work on the principle of achieving what they want by shouting loudest! Not a good principle and something I have regularly managed with a quiet low key firm voice of appreciation of comment before moving on. But coming back to the benefit of silence and thinking time, it is all part of my take on the Pareto principle – otherwise known as the 80 – 20 rule!

My view is that for every change event there should be 80% of your time given over to planning, preparation and engagement prior to the change and 20% after. As part of that 80% whatever communications vehicles you incorporate into your methodology, you should also incorporate a period of non-communications. That is time for each stakeholder to go away from the discussion table and think about the impact of the change to them and how the plans and processes being suggested will enable and engage within their dominion.

And how you might add does this bring the holiday break back into the equation. Well its not rocket science to realise that everyone is likely to be away from the discussion table around this time of year. So my recommendation is to try and use this time as thinking time, non-communication, an opportunity to regroup thoughts and rationalise without interference. Make the break part or the change schedule and give the stakeholders the opportunity to ponder the change independently at this time of year. Now I’m not promoting the idea of working throughout the break, but we all know that the mind never stops considering the workplace, no matter how much time we are away from it – so focus the mind on this role and let this be the opportunity it can be.

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