My work in implementing business systems allows me to see how people behave when faced with imminent change, which may threaten their status quo and current place in their existing universe.
My team is also exposed to client environment, and have to manage people who are experiencing flux in their work place. Most ‘transformations’ and ‘digitalisation’ or ‘project improvements’ usually result in layoffs, and many have the valid fear that their job could be in jeapordy.
People react to stressful situations in various ways, and it is interesting to see what behaviours are driven by unconscious elements.
For example – Implementing a new contact centre system with AVR (Automated Voice Response) generally means a desire to reduce the number of contact centre agents. Validating callers with their account numbers, or directing them to self-help on websites, aim to reduce the number of contacts received.
This means – fewer agents will be required; at least for the lowest level of support. Headcount is reduced – resulting in cost savings.
it is during project kick-offs and Discovery workshops, that we first get the feel of the political and emotional landscape. Different departments and teams now have to cooperate and collaborate. This is where we observe behaviours that signal an escalation to the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ responses.
“No, that won’t do, because..”
“What do you mean, we MUST roll this out…”
“No, the US division must follow our rules if they are coming onto our org…”
“Merging our departments won’t work because…”
Many of them wear invisible ‘armour’, to stop them from being hurt in a way that has been experienced before.
I believe that people react out of fear.
Fear that the armour and the walls they have built to protect themselves are being threatened. Culture becomes toxic, growth is impeded and in some cases, reversed.
Painful conversations need to be had, in order to begin the process of recovery.
Brene Brown, on Tim Ferriss’s podcast talks about those who fear opening Pandora’s box and getting dragged into the deep waters of emotions that they’ve kept under lock for so long.
“Whether you open Pandora’s box or not, it’s something you’re going to deal with (if you aren’t already) – it’s contents WILL manifest, somehow, someway.”
That will take courage.