What Managers Should Understand About Change on the Floor

Change on the floor © Erik Back 2005

Lately I have been thinking about how change agents implement changes in companies. I have an academic background in strategy and management; I have studied a lot of theories and methods about change and it is all very exciting.

Most change agents are very good a making managers understand how important and how good change would be for their companies. The agents and managers meet to make a strategy to implement change. Until now everything is good. Both agent and manager speak the same language.

People on the floor don’t care

I have worked on the floor among non-academics and it has been a great experience. I have had jobs like warehouse operative and sales assistant; my family are all workmen. What I have experienced is that they put pride in their work and their craft; but they hate change and they especially dislike when academic managers tell them how to do their work.

Management has to find a way to gain trust and then initiate change in a non-academic language. The manager needs to understand that people on the floor do not care about LEAN, kaizen and positive thinking. They care about doing their jobs.

“Managers are just lazy academics sitting on their chairs all day drinking coffee!” I have heard this sentence many variations countless of times. Most people at the floor will agree with the statement and help maintaining that image.

If you want to initiate change you have to change yourself first. Next you have to show appreciation and communicate what you want. If people are pleased with you appreciation they will give you what you ask for.

Why You Hate Change and Love Variety

Variety © Erik Back 2011

Change is everywhere and the world is in constant change. Experts say that change is good and a lot of us maintain that we love change; but we don’t!

I must admit that I have always thought that I welcomed change. That was until I had a personality profile made. First I ignored its insane suggestion that I’m reluctant to change. I write about change; I preach change; I love change!

But I was wrong. I don’t like change – I like variety… and so do you!

Change vs. Variety

We need change to develop. If we want to achieve and have success or to be happy, then change is necessary. Since we don’t like change we have to learn how to cope with change and learn how to create change to develop in a positive direction.

Big changes, whether they are good or bad will create stress. Unforeseen change will always make us feel uncomfortable to some degree. Some people cope better than others do, but we all have our limits.

Too many changes at one time will break you and that’s why you do not like changes.

Variety is different. Variety is something you need to stay motivated. Variety is doing what you do in a different way without changing it. Maybe you choose to go another way to work or maybe you ride your bike instead of driving your car to work. You don’t quit your job.

Variety is what makes you see the world and your life from another perspective and sometimes that is what you need to create change. That way variety can be a means to change.

Change has a more permanent character than do variety.

Have you experienced big changes that made you uncomfortable? How did you cope?

Resources

If you would like to take a personality test like the one I had made, then try a free DiSC test on 123Test.

Change Makes Me Uncomfortable

Butterfly © Erik Back 2011

Do we like change? I’m not so sure that change is part of human nature. Change is not something we strive for.

Take a look at nature. It is predictable. Certain cycles are repeated over and over again.

Nature change, but it changes within a cycle or pattern e.g. seasons change, plants change with the seasons and night changes to day. But you never see nature skip a season or two nights in a row.

Is Your Seat Taken?

Do you know the feeling of entering you favourite coffee shop to find out that someone else has taken ‘your’ seat? It makes you uncomfortable for a second or more. Maybe you leave or maybe you find another place to sit.

After a while you get used to you new seat and giving it up would make you momentarily uncomfortable again.

I Love and Hate Change

Change is good in the long run because I know that change will bring me to the next stage of something. I usually get to something better by making changes. But I think people are reluctant to change because it does not feel good before they have actually made the change.

I prefer to be in control of change. Personal change is something I decide to do, but when change is forced upon me I feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

If my seat is taken or I run out of coffee it disturbs my routines and that makes me uncomfortable. It shouldn’t matter but it does, even if it is only momentarily because I have to break a good routine to find a new one. I like to be on top of things.

Big Changes Are Stressing

In general I embrace change because I know it will bring new opportunities that make life worth living. Big changes are like training for a marathon; it hurts getting there but reaching the goal is worth the pain.

But it is difficult for me to handle more than one or two big changes at a time. I cannot train for the marathon and win The Polar Circle Race at the same time.

Lately there has been too many changes and it is stressing. Six months ago I had a stable life and I was in control of the changes.

Suddenly my life looked like the day after an earthquake that has ruined most of the city. Fortunately most of the changes are good changes but they are stressing never the less.

What changed so dramatically? Well, in December my business partner got financial problems and I had to find new premises. I found a new partner and moved into my new premises in January.

One week later my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. At first the news were shocking but now we are happy about it.

In February my new partner got financial problems and I am now again without premises for my business.

In March two other business partners made cuttings and suddenly my business is crumbling.

In May I got married. A good change, but it does have a big impact on my worldview.

Good thing that I have healthy habits. I exercise a lot by attending swim practice twice a week. Well, that was until yesterday when I found out the team has been closed down.

The Changes Are Good

It’s not that the changes are bad. The is a solution to all the changes and most of them opens new and exciting opportunities, but they have been out of my control and it is extremely stressing.

I am going to spend this summer recovering and finding my new place in life. I cannot do more than one thing at the time. That is why I will take time planning new goals and developing new routines and habits.

Hopefully I learn new things in the process that I can share on this site.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear about your experiences with big changes and how you dealt with them.

The Nature of Attitude

Attitude © Erik Back 2012

I’m working on an ebook titled “6 Powerful Mechanisms Behind Personal Change”. This post is a part of the chapter about positive attitude. I will show you what attitude is and how you can use it to be proactive.

The Nature of Attitude

Daniel D. Droba claims he was the first to define the attitude concept and he did so in his article The Nature of Attitude from 1933.

Droba based his study on 55 books on sociology and psychology and he concluded that attitude is a state of preparation to action.

“Attitude is a state of preparation to action”

Carl Jung’s definition of attitude

I’m surprised that Droba only used American sources and studies because the attitude concept has a central role in Carl Jung’s Psychological Types published in 1923.

Jung’s work is used today in personality tests and development of organisations.

In his work “Psychological Types” (pp. 526-30) Jung gave his definition of attitude:

“Attitude is a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain direction.”

Jung places great emphasis on the attitude concept because it is a powerful mechanism that is based on experience:

“To have a certain attitude means to be ready for something definite […] having an attitude is synonymous with an a priori direction towards a definite thing.”

Jung believes that we have both a conscious and an unconscious attitude. I you want to act in a certain direction you have to be conscious about it; for that you need attitude.

“Active apperception is impossible without an attitude.”

Jung has identified certain types of attitudes that are based on habits.

“When a function habitually predominates, a typical attitude is thereby produced.”

This means, that habits can develop both consciously and unconsciously; these habits will produce some kind of attitude.

If you want to change something you need the right attitude to do so. That is why you can combine habits and attitudes and thereby create personal change.

Example

Experience → Attitude → Action

It’s raining. Rain is wet and cold. → Rain is bad → Cancel date

Habits → Attitude → Action

Bad habit → Negative attitude → Negative projection to other people

Unhealthy diet → feeling of guilt → healthy people are patronising

You can use this mechanism to create change. Changing a habit is difficult and it takes time, but you can choose to adopt a certain attitude, e.g. a positive attitude, and thereby change your action.

Another type of action will lead to a new experience. That new experience is your resource to the attitude you desire.

Your attitude is not predetermined. You can choose to take responsibility for your actions and adopt an attitude that will help you to personal change. This is being proactive.

Make your choice:

I choose to be reactive and let my bad habits control my life and actions I choose to be proactive and take charge of my life and actions

Is it that simple? – Yes, it is that simple! The difficult part is to make the decision about being reactive or proactive. If you chose to be reactive then you don’t have to read anymore – just carry on with your life as usual.

Did you choose to be proactive? What are you going to do to be proactive?

Maybe you are already in charge of your personal development, please share how you did in the comments.

The 5 Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

Group © Erik Back 2011

About ten years ago I discovered appreciative inquiry. I have studied the concept and used it since then. I have also studied the philosophy behind and all related concepts. But somehow I was distracted and moved in another direction.

For a couple of years I almost forgot about appreciative inquiry and recently I was reminded of the power of the concept.

Over the years of exploring philosophy and theories I have developed and refined the concept. Now that I return to the basics of what I learned ten years ago I realise how much better I understand appreciative inquiry and its principles.

I will use these principles as a part of my series about the mechanisms behind personal change.

Appreciative inquiry builds on five principles:

1. The positive principle

This is the core principle of appreciative inquiry.

– Seek and you will find. (Matthew 7:7)

If you look for problems, if you focus on problems then you will find problems. Problems are negative; problems make you unhappy, problems dissatisfy you. Do you really want to spend your life focusing on problems?

For every problem that you encounter in life there is a vision of something better. Therefore, problems have a positive angle. Discover the good experiences of your problems, those will be your positive resources for your future.

You cannot fix a problem, because the problem will still be there or there wouldn’t be a problem to fix.

The positive principle is about acknowledging the situations in life that makes you unhappy and discovering the good aspects that will help you get what you seek.

If you ask for bread, what will you get?

If you ask for money, what will you get?

If you ask for a lift, what will you get?

You get what you ask for, so why not look for your dreams instead of your problems? Do your problems deserve all that attention?

2. The constructionist principle

A society is made of individuals, who all think, feel and communicate with each other. In other words, a society is a social construction.

Your ability to activate your imagination and to combine it with reason is the most important resource for generating personal change. Use that resource and communicate it, in a positive language to your network.

There is a clear connection between communication and change. That is why you can use your language to construct the life you want.

3. The principle of simultaneity

To create change you have to ask questions to investigate and to generate reflection.

If you can make people (or yourself) reflect on how you are doing things, then you will initiate change.

The principle of simultaneity means that the second you ask a question to someone you have made an intervention that will automatically start a chain of reactions.

This chain of reactions will eventually lead to some kind of change.

4. The poetic principle

We all belong to different groups and organisations, e.g. work, school, family, sport etc.

In these groups and organisations we tell stories. We tell collective stories that become part of reality in that specific group or organisation.

According to the thought leader of appreciative inquiry, David Cooperrider, we can change the stories we choose to tell.

Your groups and organisations are constantly being co-authored and it can be read and interpreted like poetry.

The poetic principle is about choosing moments or parts of your social circle to study and understand and maybe even add a new chapter by telling new stories.

5. The anticipatory principle

The anticipatory principle is about having visions about the future; and it says that groups and organisations only exist because people share a projection about what a group or an organisation is.

The collective imagination is a very important resource that is driven by the positive principle.

It is important to do positive networking to create a common positive vision about the future.

If you have a clear vision about the future, whether it’s a personal or collective vision, you are more likely to succeed in creating change.


Warning: Parameter 1 to W3_Plugin_TotalCache::ob_callback() expected to be a reference, value given in /var/www/intelligentsia.eu/blog/wp-includes/functions.php on line 3721