Workplace Rights

Weekly (5/13/13)

Topic of the Week  Leading Change

  • DON'T do all the planning from the corner office.
  • DO show times have changed.
  • DO play pretend.
  • DO identify solutions to possible roadblocks.

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes--Leading Change at Work

For most of us, change at work is tough. Even if we aren't so crazy about the current status quo, taking that leap into something new is difficult. Which reminds me of a bank robber in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Actually he was more of a wanna-be robber than an actual robber. I'll explain. He showed up at the Guardian Credit Union in a ski mask and carrying a gun, so far so good. Unfortunately he showed up six minutes after the doors had already been locked. Police were reviewing the security tapes of him stuck at the front door to see if they could ID and arrest him.

Most of us are like that would be robber when we try to make changes where we work, we show up late or mess up another important detail. I've included three Do's and one Don't for making a change that will be more successful. For more, check out "I Hate People" by Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon (Little Brown, 2009).

DON'T do all the planning from the corner office. The more key stakeholders are brought in early and often, the more everyone will be invested in making the change successful. This step seems obvious, but most organizations tend to do change "to" their people rather than "with" them. One caution, be prepared for a certain amount of pushback to the new idea, that's just human nature.

DO show times have changed. This is the important next step of the change process that's often overlooked, why the change is necessary. Sure people in management usually have reports, studies and pie charts explaining the reasons for doing things differently in the future. But this stuff has a funny way of never leaking out to the people in the trenches who need to actually implement the change. It's called "buy-in," and it will have a dramatic impact on the success of your initiative.

DO play pretend. Okay, the next thing you're probably thinking is that I'll suggest recess. But it's true, organizations don't often take the time to ask those all important "What if questions." What if we could find more resources? What if we could find a new strategic partner? What if we could expand our relationship with our key customers? The can be remarkable opportunities out there but only if we are all open to new ideas and new possibilities.

DO identify solutions to possible roadblocks. Most of us are very good at identifying roadblocks and any other reasons why we won't have to act. I had one boss who could list all the problems whenever I brought up a new idea, I swear, she could do it while she was napping. Most roadblocks are just that, impediments that can be removed so we can continue on our journey.

Clearly this bank robber was six minutes late and many dollars short. Hopefully the tips above will allow you to avoid this fate.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you'll be forever in the control of things you can't give up."

–Andy Law

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