Saturday, February 23, 2013

Change in the workplace

We have all gone to those reorganization meetings where the managers talk about change and how we all are going to have new job titles and responsibilities. We are quoted from people like Woodrow Wilson who said 
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”  At the meeting everyone is smiling and cooperative, but in the break room the grumbling begins. Catherine's Career corner has a nice piece on why workers resist change

Spoiler alert: If you supervise more than five people, please close the blog now. The rest of this blog is not for your eyes. 

The workplace is, for most of us, a series of negotiated advantages and disadvantages that are developed over the years that changes and realignments can eliminate. Say for example, Sally always comes in fifteen minutes late and so Cathy has to open the safe every morning. In return Cathy gets Christmas week and the day after Thanksgiving off. If Cathy is transferred there will be no one to open the safe. 

Perhaps after repeated attempts to show Al the new computer program he still doesn't get it. He is quietly moved to a different task where that can be hidden. Change can expose Al's deficiencies. 

Lucy distrusts Mary.  This can be traced to the fact that Lucy remarried and still takes Communion on Sunday mornings. Mary hides this knowledge in her pew. The new reorganization will cause the two to work together on the same shift. 

In other words, change can upset the applecart. Higher ups often are not aware of how delicately apple carts are assembled in a workplace and should tread lightly when bringing about change. 

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