Knowledge workers, especially those in leadership positions, are often expected to make changes.

One of the reasons people are hired into new positions is to accomplish pre-determined goals and to do so using processes and systems that are well-tested and stable. Yet, career progress goes to those who know how to spot and make changes that are of great value to the company.

But what changes are necessary or even worthy of being made? Certainly NOT change for the sake of placing one’s so-called “stamp” on “things”. That can create confusion and destroy productivity. As I have stated often in other Nuggets, decisions for the sake of managerial ego can be deadly to the corporation. [Search “Managerial Ego” for more valuable Nuggets.] On the other hand, a good knowledge worker, a great leader, will discover those things that really do need changing. When identified and when action is appropriately taken, the project or the corporation will be abuzz with excitement.

How to identify opportunities that need changing and when addressed will be viewed as GREAT CHANGE:

  1. It is something that is not merely nice-to-have, but of extreme importance, critical to the project or operation and badly in need of being changed. If you were to do an informal survey you’d discover that the timing screams urgency, screams a sense of do-it-right-now-we-can’t-wait-any-longer.
  2. It consists of mile markers along the way, smaller projects, goals, or changes that can be “bitten off and chewed” on the way towards that major, much larger one. Think of this as a stairway to the end point. With each goal or smaller project, there is opportunity for everyone in the corporation to see that “real progress” is being made. Progress is overt, not covert.
  3. The big project or goal, that major change, must be able to have reasonable or, better, significant impact on the bottom line. Complex and difficult to manage report cards should not be needed. It must have an obvious impact on profitability and productivity.
  4. Impact of the change ought to also be measured in terms of its durability over time. Not only must the results be highly visible, the longer lasting the impact or change the better.
  5. Sometimes management may try to make major changes by digging hard for facts to justify the change and then running an internal propaganda campaign, at great expense, to brain wash employees into accepting the need for that change.  Employees almost always sense as a rationale that is invented rather than something that is innate within the situation or badly needed. The more time, resources and energy that has to be invested to build a critical mass of conviction among the employee base, the less likely the change will have impact or even succeed. The preferred tactic is to know your corporation well enough to be able to uncover change that needs to be made. To find a change that the project or the corporation has needed for quite some time. You’ve nailed it if the response widely heard among employees is along the lines of, “Finally, somebody is working to fix this problem…it’s been a long time coming.”