Today many people often use the phrase “times are changing“, especially when things didn’t happen as planned or as expected. Unfortunately, when asked what is really changing, most people are at a lost for words and find it quite difficult – if not impossible – to describe what the change is they are referring to. This kind of “ignorance” often is an indication of a “pending crisis“. Because, when one is unable to determine the challenges and dynamics of change… How would it be possible for anyone to effectively deal with such a change?
The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu taught his men to “know your enemy” before going into battle. For if “you know your enemy and know yourself“, he wrote, “you need not fear the result of a hundred battles“. But, Sun Tzu also warned… “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat“. Although change is not really our enemy (anyhow, not in the strictest sense of the word) the same principle is at stake here… if we don’t know ourselves and don’t know what has changed or is about to change, we are surely setting ourselves up for either bitter disappointment and/or failure in the future.
The modern businesses world is changing consistently, rapidly and on a daily bases. When we are oblivious of the changes confronting us, regardless of being a director, manger, employee or “job seeker“, we are steadily heading for much turbulence in the future… NOT because change equals trouble, BUT because we ain’t “mentally fit enough” to deal with change in a proactive manner (i.e. we are suffering from future shock).
Keeping Sun Tzu’s advice in mind and considering the many business changes we are confronted with nowadays, this article attempts to highlight (actually kind of predict) the key workplace climate changes (i.e. attitude confrontations) we are presently confronted with.
Business is gradually developing into a synchronized ecosystem, and – presently
– fewer and fewer people are viewing or perceiving business as an “act of war
” to be fought on the battlefields of gaining and keeping market share.
The present workplace culture regard business as a conflicting and intense competition between companies, departments and groups of people. It constructs massive administration HQ’s, builds huge armies of “troops” to be order about at will, categorize competitors as “enemies” to be annihilated and treat customers as a “territory” to be “overpowered” and conquered.
The emerging workplace culture regards business as a cooperative symbiosis between people, where the most diverse company is most likely to survive and thrive. It naturally creates diverse teams (e.g. departments) that could easily adapt to new challenges, demands, events or circumstances and can quickly form partnerships with other teams, companies, customers …and even – when necessary – with the competition!
Companies are “slowly, but surely
” evolving into communities where people – by consent
– co-creatively attempt to obtain diverse objectives in order to achieve a collective goal. The idea that a company is well oiled running machine, is dying out and fading… faster than we care to admit.
The present workplace relations considers the company to be a machine with employees functioning and operating as cogs within that machine. It creates rigid bureaucratic structures with inflexible rules and then maintain control by “pushing buttons” and “steering the ship” by means of a “carrot & stick” methodology. This methodology is frequently accompanied by constant threats of replacing “dysfunctional cogs” and sustaining a level of fear amongst the “cogs” by means of manipulated disciplinary hearings.
The emerging workplace relations sees a company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose (i.e. company vision and mission). It inspires employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers (i.e. feedback & recognition) and therefore to become “community–and-company–aware” (i.e individual responsibility within group, company or society accountability).
The major shift taking place in a managerial context, is that management functions are gradually regarded a service, and are no longer deemed as a necessary form of absolute control.
The present workplace management structure wants individuals to do exactly as they are told. There is a presence of hyper-awareness towards anything that might possibly smacks of insubordination. This “insubordination sensitivity” ultimately encourage and firmly establish a “company collective attitude” where personal initiative is effectively squelched by a “lets rather wait and see what the boss wants” mentality.
The emerging workplace management structure is setting a general operational direction, tone and tempo (i.e. translated vision and mission statements) with the commitment to obtain the needed resources that individuals might require to productively get the job done. It ultimately pushes decision making downwards, allowing teams and groups of people to compile their own rules “of the game“, and management only intervenes in case of looming derailments, a crisis or emergency.
TREATMENT OF EMPLOYEES
There is a growing tendency amongst the management echelon to start treating employees as their peers, and not as children that needs to be continually reprimanded and watched. Presently this managerial attitude is far and few in between, but their numbers is steadily growing.
Present Employee Treatment
The present workplace management echelon regards and treats employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted and needs to be constantly bullied into doing the “right” thing. There is a general prevailing opinion that employees, when not overseen or controlled by a patriarchal and forceful management structure, will not “produce” as expected. Employees take their cues from this attitude (i.e. the company culture/climate), expend energy on looking busy, maintain a low profile and spend countless hours just to cover their behinds.
Emerging Employee Treatment
The emerging workplace management echelon treats every employee as if s/he is the key person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere… from the loading dock, the laboratory to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels are compelled to take charge of their own destinies, accept responsibility for their actions and contribute to the overall success of the company an/or team.
Motivation stems from a collective inspired vision, not from instilling fear.
The present workplace view regard fear – of getting fired, or ridiculed, or loss of privilege – as a crucial way to motivate and keep people motivated and performing at their best. As a result, employees and managers alike, become paralysed and unwilling to either propose improvements or take risky decisions, while actively adopt an attitude of “rather safe than sorry“.
The emerging workplace view is to inspire people to see a better future and how they all can be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the company’s goals (i.e. the vision and missions of the company), truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards of collective success… equally and proportionally.
DEALING WITH CHANGE
Plenty of people and most companies/organizations, tends to associate change with pain and suffering. Fortunately, there is a steady growing number of individuals that does regard change as equal to growth and development.
Present Approach to Change
The present workplace change approach regards change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape or going through a rough patch. They – generally speaking – normally deal with change in a cyclone syndrome fashion… until it’s either too late or the destructive residue of Future Shock firmly and permanently sets in.
Emerging Approach to Change
The emerging workplace change approach regards change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible when each employee and the organization as a whole embraces new ideas and new ways of conducting business.
TECHNOLOGY & DEVELOPMENTS
Technology and developments – especially the open source software initiative
– strife to offer empowerment to people, and to counteract the suffocating grip of control as religiously endorsed by big business and large corporations.
Present Technological Attitude
The present workplace technological attitude firmly believes in and adheres dedicately to the old IT-centric view that technology primarily is the most effective way to strengthen management’s control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize, antagonize and “boxed” or limits employee’s actions, initiative and decision making capabilities..
Emerging Technological Attitude
The emerging workplace technological attitude regards technology as a way to free the human spirit to be more productive, creative, cooperative, take more initiative and to build better relationships. Back-office systems are adapted to make use of available “tools” and mechanisms such as online interactivity, iPad’s, web phones and tablets, that people actually can and want to use.
ATTITUDE & VIEW TOWARDS WORK
There is no rational explanation or reason why one’s job or work should be constant toil and drudgery. It should be fun, a challenge and a way to grow personally each and every day .
The present workplace attitude and view actively support the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. The workplace fully “expect employees” to resent having to work, and therefore, tends to subconsciously define organizations as oppressors and their employees as unwilling participants. Everyone, from top to bottom, then behaves accordingly.
The emerging workplace view and attitude regards work as something that should be inherently challenging, enjoyable or fulfilling and believe therefore that the most important function of a manager is – as far as possible – to place individuals in jobs that can and will make them truly happy and allows them to grow and develop as a person.
- You must be on top of change or change will be on top of you (Mark Victor Hansen);
- Not everything that is faced can be changed BUT nothing can be changed until it is faced (James Baldwin) and
- It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark (Howard Ruff).