Got Post Change Chaos?
There have been countless articles written on the importance of preparing for a merger or acquisition. There are models that can be utilized as guidelines for the integration of organizational cultures. How often is the information and even warnings heeded? Unfortunately more not than often. So what can be done after the merger for which there was insufficient or no preparation?
- First realize that it will not be easy and it will take time. Most humans do not embrace change. In fact, some behavioral styles will resent it, avoid it and even fight it making the job even more challenging. Having inadequate warning and time to adjust only makes matters worse. So bring your patience. Also, prepare to have your understanding stretched to the max. Think about it…how would you feel or handle it if your spouse said their mother is coming to live at your house next week giving you no time to prepare? I dare say, there would be some ensuing chaos.
- Help your managers handle employee bickering. Managers must avoid “getting hooked” into employee frays. Make sure that every leader conveys the proper chain-of-command for complaints. This is especially important for smaller organizations where employees have typically “gone to the top” person to vent. Now that the organization is larger, this is no longer feasible or practical with more people to manage.
- Offer training programs on respect, professional decorum, communication, and leadership. A merger requires both soft and technical skills for success.
- Provide managers with coaching tools. Understanding the right questions to ask an upset employee helps the employee to take ownership of his or her complaint. More often than not, the employee just wants someone to know he or she is upset. Helping employees to be more empowered in handling their own grievances saves time, reduces stress, and helps the employee develop both personally and professionally. Some workers carry their feelings on their sleeves or they may carry a chip on their shoulder. Providing training and coaching around this element of self-management can go a long way in reducing tension, disagreements, and stress.
- Personal Accountability. This self-management technique fits into the information above, but takes the idea to some specific actions. Several years ago, John Miller developed a program entitled “Personal Accountability and the QBQ.” The acronym “QBQ” stands for the Question Behind the Question. In other words, the idea is to help employees stop asking self-defeating or victim type questions and ask more powerful questions. Here are a few examples from John’s program:
Instead of asking: “Why doesn’t management recognize my value.” The QBQ is: “What can I do to show my value?” or “How can I learn what management values?”
Instead of asking: “Why doesn’t my manager explain what he/she wants?” The QBQ is: “How can I communicate my lack of clarity regarding her expectations?” or “What can I do to establish a good relationship with my manager?”
Managers too, can be whiners or attempt to dodge personal accountability just as their staff tries to dodge theirs. American Society for Training and Development (now ATD) contributing authors Wendell Nekoranec and Dawn Fourrier, offer these ideas,
Instead of the old: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” comment, try “What will be lost by not trying something?” Instead of complaining, “My position doesn’t give me any power.” Try, “How can [my] actions bring about success?”
By simply turning questions internally and accepting responsibility for our own success, we make better progress toward facilitating change in a smoother manner and increase our and the organization’s productivity in the process.
Yes, it is inherently better to prepare employees for change. However, throwing up your hands afterwards thinking nothing can be done is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. There are many ways to help facilitate change even in the face of poor preparation and the aftermath of or in the midst of chaos. This is the time to find the core issues, dig in your heels and be consistent and persistent in your efforts to bring about a culture of collaboration and respect.