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The Invisible killer

The Invisible killer amongst us

Are you adequately trained to manage constant change?

It’s a simple question really, how much formal training have you ever received relating to the skill and expertise needed to be able to manage constant change?

It is the one skill that is generally omitted from the training list on a CV. It’s the thing that everyone skirts around, muttering something about it being common sense surely.

But it is the biggest cause of failure in businesses, the single largest factor in project overruns and the single largest issue that faces the Directors every day – it’s just that they may not know it.

The costs associated with the failure to recognise, understand and Manage constant change is the invisible killer in our economy and business world. I am reminded of the Darwinian quote;

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. Charles Darwin

With the very survival of our Businesses and Organisations at stake;

 Why is so little time spent training our senior Managers and Directors on the important matters of adapting to change.  Why is “change” seen as an annual event, a bit like a birthday that happens and then stops?

SO what exactly is “change” if we are going to focus this blog on the matter?

verb • make or become different: noun • an act or process through which something becomes different:

That’s the easy bit, defining the word. But the process of managing this transforming act, of achieving the outcome that is desired, or to plan a route that avoids the pitfalls of NOT changing, needs some further thought.

It is not so much the act, the planning, the execution of the things that are needed to effect change, although knowing what the right route is to take to get there is another matter.

It is the moving of the psychological state of mind of our people that is the aspect of change that largely goes unchecked, left to chance, a resignation that this bit is just “too hard to perform”, too “soft skill stuff”, too “emotional”

And yet for many companies and organisations, our wage bill every month is a highly significant part of our cost base. If it related to machinery we would clean and service it routinely, if it were a real estate asset, we would maintain it regularly.

So why do we not do the same with our people?

In fairness, a cornerstone of managing people through change is “Employee Engagement”, which is on the agenda of HR departments throughout the land. This will invariably fail over time in the majority of cases UNLESS this is owned, championed and overseen by the Organisational Leader, CEO or MD – the person at the top. Employee Engagement is owned by the CEO.

Sincere, honest and visible Leadership is seen as the vital ingredient in creating a culture of managing constant change.

We must then adopt a structured way to embrace the psychological state of our people, and to use a concept of FAIRNESS in order to move their state of mind to support the “new”. In other words, we must try to make the Change a part of their mental routine, not something to be feared or sabotaged, but to be welcomed and engaged with.

The key word in the above paragraph is “Structured”. Paradoxically during times of changes, we as humans like to have rules, structure, a routine.

It’s commonly understood that in times of stress, the female of our species massively increase the level of communication between themselves. They do this as a way to understand, to reach common acceptance and to bind together with others in devising the new rituals and responses that will be needed in the new way of doing things. The male counterparts sadly do no such thing, preferring to withdraw, often repeatedly watching old films they have seen before, playing a game on their computers or phones constantly, or finding comfort in a routine either at home or work, until such time as the new rules are defined which is when they will assess the impact on themselves and plan behaviours accordingly.

Both genders have one thing in common – they DISENGAGE for this period of time, until the change has been announced and the implications of “what’s going to affect me” more fully understood.

So the word “Structure” implies a rule based system for managing change. It implies that this may be repeated the same way every time, and it also implies it can be audited.

To make this method acceptable to those it will impact (first directive of Change acceptance), then an element of psychology must be used to create a sense of engagement and Fairness.

SO, let’s go back to the first question then;

How have your Executives and Senior Managers been trained to be able to identify, initiate, control and deliver successful work, on a platform of constant change?

A formal practical programme of training and mentoring is needed with all of those who are in a strategic leadership position in your Organisation.

This programme should be internally led, working on YOUR organisation and not just in a classroom, and provide a robust toolset for successfully managing the business on the moving platform of our markets, Customer bases, supply lines, technology and people.

And most importantly, the instruction and support for this training must come from the top.

Without this approach, change will become the annual event, engagement will fail over time and the silent Killer will roam our offices and factories eroding our profits, causing conflict and distraction, lowering our performance and leaving our Managers fighting operational issues instead of driving the strategy of our Organisations for success.

How long do you want to think about this? How long will it wait? The silent killer is already at work, and relentlessly it resides hidden, under your radar until the symptoms of this disease become financially painful.

For more information about this subject, for an informal discussion or to find out more about combating your silent killer called “unmanaged change”, contact me at

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