Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Head or heart?

Our move of site is moving forward - slowly and with some discomfort. As a change management/leadership professional this is an interesting experience to be part of, so I thought I might offer a few observations on how everything is happening rather than what is going on.

Only to be expected for such a significant change as there are (at least) two processes going on in parallel. Firstly the building of a team who will decide on a proposal and then deliver it; secondly the personal transitions from As-Is to To-Be. Let's explore what is likely to be happening...

The team development 'route' is well known (Tuckman, if you really want the source) - Form, Storm, Norm, Perform, Unform. At a meeting last night there was a lot of frustration expressed, people needing to have their say, to understand how the overall process would work... Classic 'storming' behaviour and necessary if the team is to really start to get to grips with the task they face. It's important that everyone involved recognises this and works through it, only then can we start to sort out how to make the team work effectively (norming) and ultimately get on with stuff. As a process observer, the big challenge here is to get participants to realise that these processes happen and take time so that the team needs forming early enough to enable a health process to take place before real decisions have to be made.

The change journey model that I find most helpful is based on the work of Elisabeth Ross-Kubler and has been summarised into six stages - Shock, Denial, Anger/Depression, Resignation, Acceptance, Future Focus.

Shock - WHAT! Nobody has paid attention to our needs!
Denial - SURELY NOT! It can't be as bad as that!
Anger/Depression - GRRRRR!!!! "They" really don't care/understand!
Resignation - OH WELL If that's what they want there is not much I can do about it.
Acceptance - OK If that's how it is going to be, what's the best way forward for me?
Future Focus - Right, so this is what I am going to do now.

So there we were blaming others, wondering what next, trying to find out what 'they' wanted, who would be making the 'real' decisions - classic 'victim' behaviour in the Anger/Depression position. We could continue as Victims or we could start to take positive action to address our concerns (which was what happened and is still happening) thus moving ourselves through the powerless Anger and Depression.

Anyway - what a change to be able to observe this stuff in action and to write about it.

One final thought - what did I use the title "Head or Heart"? Well because any change inevitably involves both head and heart. The (relatively) easy stuff is the cognitive/intellectual reasoning and redesign - 'head work'. The hard bit is to move from intellectual acceptance to affective/emotional understanding - 'heart work'. This latter is often underestimated, especially by those who due to the nature of their work routinely redesign schools and provision and may not understand the emotional issues being faced by those actually working in and with the school. The 'head' people may find moving through the change curve easy and quick, the 'hearts' risk getting trapped in the early stages - and communication between the two camps gets harder and more frustrating. Each party needs to clearly express their current needs and persist in getting them met before it is possible to move forward.

Head or Heart then? Well, both actually.

No comments: