[This blog builds on the previous one regarding the terminal velocity of change in our own lives]
When I start working at a new company, there are many things that jump out as being great and a few things that jump out at as needing improvement. Typically, as I start to understand more of the culture, things I thought were wrong turn out to be just different but nevertheless effective. Other things though, I want to change.
Whenever we go into a new situation we have an outside perspective that can allow us to see things that those who have been a part of the organization can’t see because they’ve grown accustom to them. It’s tempting to try to mention all the various things we think need to be fixed forgetting that organizations just like people can’t change on a dime. Plus others may not even agree that a change is necessary.
Most of us can recognize our own limitations to change, but forget them when it comes to others; often because the change seems so obvious, but what might be obvious to us is not obvious to others. Moreover, just like us, organizations and those in them also have limits on how quickly they can make change: organizations also have a terminal velocity of change. Influencing change in others requires even more finesse than it does to change ourselves.
Just as with ourselves, we have to pick the right thing and then keep focusing on that — we can never fix everything. As much as we can, we shouldn’t depend only on others to make the change but try to figure out how to make the change ourselves. This is because others tend to be overwhelmed with the improvements they are already trying to make. It’s much easier to change something that we’ve identified ourselves than it is to get excited about a change someone else has identified. Finally, we should learn to read people’s situation. We shouldn’t keep giving people a hard time about something when they are totally stressed about a more pressing problem. Doing so just offends them and reduces not only the ability to work together toward a solution, but also risks losing the friendship. Instead during those times encourage what is going right and pitch in.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering these challenges and difficulties. Nothing here is earth shattering, but these are the things I have to remind myself of because I can easily fall into being completely ineffective and even offensive. As I’ve come to understand more about how quickly change can be made, I remind myself of these principles to try and find the right path. We must seek improvement, but we can only do so with wisdom and grace.
[Photo Credit: Tom Magliery]