Friday, November 02, 2012

People Problems

Change is hard. Change is even harder in a large organization (or one that is old, or has a long average tenure or is successful in some way).

If you haven't experienced the difficulty, and time involved, and patience required, and politicking needed, you perhaps are blessed with a change-ready (or hungry) organization, or the changes haven't been very big or, truthfully, important.

For those that have experienced these challenges, I'd like to offer some recent, and completely untested, thoughts on what this is all about for those people who are required for, and likely resisting, the change agile is bringing about.


It's all about story. And character. And plot. And setting. Do you recall these terms from English class from high school or secondary school? What's really happening in their world?

I've used the phrase "The issue isn't the issue," when describing conflict management. That is, usually what we are arguing about isn't the problem that needs to be resolved. Ever feel like you logically addressed the point someone made, only to have them bring up yet another point? People with these issues can be a bit like Jell-o. You push down one issue, only to have another bulge out somewhere else. That's because there is something happening underneath the surface with this person, but it's either something they can't say or don't even realize they're saying.

One time I had to deal with a manager who walked out of the middle of a release planning meeting. She obviously didn't plan the morning thinking "I need to make sure my people are ready for the big release planning meeting. And if I don't like how it's going, I think I just I'll storm right out. I also need to meet with Joe and Sarah about the Christmas party decorations." Buuut, she also wasn't telling me, "I'm feeling insecure about my ability to lead my team through so much change, especially when I don't have a solid, working knowledge of it. I'm afraid of making bad decisions or looking foolish so visibly - in front of my team and on such a critical project. It didn't help that I oversold my ability to handle change, too." I don't think you'll see that kind of honesty and transparency unless you're at a team building offsite and just finished holding hands in a circle and singing Kumbaya.

But the truth is, they respond from how they feel much more than what they're thinking. And the better that we can listen and put together the puzzle pieces of the context in their world and from their perspective, the better that we can help each other. We don't need to always be right, but we should always be understood.

For more on this, checkout Crucial Conversations and Emotional IQ. And make sure you understand your personality type, too - either your strengths, Myers-Briggs, DiSC or the new Action and Influence behavioral and team profile by agile coach and trainer Peter Saddington

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