If you want to make a change you need the right people on board

I’ve seen multiple situations where a company states their vision and strategy but in the end the reality is totally different. They may even measure their end results and congratulate themselves for being really good, since that’s what the survey shows. But if you ask just a bit different questions will it show the remarkable goodness again?

It’s easy to shut your eyes from your own problems and only see someone else’s faults. It’s harder to put the facts on the table and start digging in.

Congrats, you’re in the all male panel

Let’s start with one issue that has gone viral in the Internet. Dr Saara Särmä, a researcher in International Relations at the University of Tampere in Finland, began collecting images of the so-called all male panels on Facebook. Soon, people added their own to the collection, leading to the creation of All Male Panels Tumblr. 

In many cases people think that here in Finland we’re all equal. So can an all-male panel really be a problem at work?

How ever you want to put it, despite the strategy or values of a company, gender equality is a process. It goes backward and it goes forward and it’s really dangerous to think that we’ve already achieved it. There’s a lot of thinking in Finland, that we’ve achieved gender equality. I’ve experienced at times it’s just a nice idea, nothing more.

If we would have more diversity in our decision making groups it would bring different viewpoints to conversation. We have to think about diversity more. How to make diversity happen? How to get different viewpoints across? It’s important to learn how to listen to different viewpoints.

It’s not about counting men and women. It’s not just the number of women and men on a panel – and believe me nobody wants to be the token woman on a panel or in these really masculine fields, which can be quite hostile. Instead behind this is need to challenge the culture in organization to think about how we treat each other.

Right people on right positions

Diversity is good but in the end if you want to make a change you need the people who are willing to make themselves vulnerable, who are willing to learn, to work in teams, to promote the leadership skills that organization agrees to be important. If you want to make a change you need the right people on board!

I met this person, young and ambitious, very high performing guy, but his interpersonal skills and working methods were really poor. He used situations to improve his own position in the eyes of his boss and his customers by totally ignoring the consequences to his colleagues. While he kept on saying everything was going great the whole house of cards was falling apart. And he always found someone else to blame. The situation started to crack and the house of cards fell down.

Dealing with this person required enormous amount of energy especially during the change. Since he chose the side which benefited him the most in the specific case it was always unclear which side he would fall each time.

Yes, whatever you do it’s about making the business more financially successful. And yes, kicking out a high-performing person doesn’t look like you’d focus on financial success. 

Many people who have driven big changes tell afterwards that they should had noticed earlier people who weren’t going to change nor weren’t going to work with the team. Also they should had made decision how to deal with those people earlier. The other thing said is to stick with your goal. It doesn’t work if you change your goal every year. In large organizations people can’t follow the change that way.

Little bit of this and a little bit of that

With the change it’s about the combination of soft and hard. When you’re going forward with both soft and hard goals, it’s more likely that you end up going through multiple conversations explaining what your goal really is. Explain that if we’d do the soft stuff right, our employees, with our help, would be more able to do what they’re supposed to do. More likely to achieve the excellence. It will help if you have your goal clear in your mind. It helps people and yourself to understand what kinds of behaviours and what kinds of people you are looking for and need for your change to succeed.

Could you dare to define success of the executed change as a much more engaged organization today? Or as an organization which always wants to get better? A few have.

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