Success, health and happiness! Who doesn’t want this out of life? But a major part of this depends on our work. In permanent processes of adjustment and change within an organization, there seems to be a negative tension triangle of ambitious (primarily monetary) goals, personal desires and the demands of others. In the middle are managers, staff, program/project leaders and sometimes even executive management, the board and even the supervisory board. If the majority or even just many of the agents within an organization system find themselves in such negative triangles of tension, then things will surely only be able to develop in a negative direction at one point or another.
But success, health and happiness are not impossible even in the face of the hardest challenges – no matter if the goals are ambitious and intended to be approached within secured economic framework conditions, and even in the darkest hours of renovation phases or insolvency.
Methodically transforming yourself and others means systematically turning a negative triangle of tension into a positive triangle of power. To this end, the medium is a positive triangle of power made up of your personal intrinsic motivation and fulfilling teamwork supported by a suitable method. What does that mean specifically?
In organizations, you can see that many are “world champions” in showing what others are not doing properly, what’s going wrong in the team and so on. Self-reflection may be painful sometimes but consider yourself thoroughly first. Ask yourself what your part is in the issue you’re currently looking at. Change processes are adjustment processes: want to break free from the negative triangle of tension and turn it into a positive triangle of power? Then the first step is to change/develop yourself. If you are increasingly carrying negative energy, then be true to yourself and admit that you are also generating negativity in your environment. It definitely makes no sense to enter into dialog with others, let alone set up teamwork, if you haven’t put your own cards on the table. Almost ever present, time pressure and pressure to achieve certain results lead to not being able to take time for yourself. But it is you personally that are most important in this moment. No matter how big the crisis, you should take time for yourself: mentally plan me time into your diary!
Everyone in the team has the opportunity to be a decisive, energizing team member. Each person has the chance to develop a high level of awareness in the team. The old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link applies here. This awareness is often lacking in everyday life, and particularly in ambitious transformation/change processes. And now, let’s look at the relationship between step 1 and step 2, and why step 1 must take place before step 2 in each and every case. How can you develop awareness for your team if you don’t develop awareness for yourself? It’s not uncommon for us as Change Managers to be confronted with hectic work situations in our projects and programs. People have meetings every hour, all day long. It’s not uncommon to meet managers that don’t even have time to eat their lunch in peace. Now imagine your team as a chain. How strong is your chain, your team? What does your team need? Are there certain team members that currently need attention and support so that the team can get further as a whole? Make the time here as well. Arrange a break in work so you can have bilateral talks in peace, or even just discuss what really matters with your team. Your calendar should read time with my team!
Step 3 – Method
It might sound crazy, but people tend to either think about this too much or not enough, very rarely the right amount. Throughout many successful transformation programs and crisis management situations, we’ve asked multiple teams what has been key to their success. Top spot is almost always shared between “intrinsic motivation” and “teamwork”, and method often takes third place after quite some distance. We’d like to use a simple example that could apply to any organization to clarify this elementary key and explain why method is important but “only” takes third place:
Let’s say you want to lose weight. First of all, you make the decision to do something about it – for whatever reason. The motivation, the drive, arises and you set yourself a goal. Keen intrinsic motivation paired with patience, persistence and discipline is the fundamental requirement. Now it’s time to find the right method. There are plenty to choose from. But you need your (own) methodical solution to help you as an individual. If you talk to anyone that has successfully lost weight, they have always found their own personal method that works for them. This may be a standard diet or a combination of approaches they’ve come up with on their own.
Things are more complicated and challenging in an organization, as you’re not just deciding for yourself: you have to find a method that the teams can successfully use to shape implementation. The question is: what kind of method do you and your team need?