Why Should Experts Guide Managers to Facilitate Change Themselves?

John, a Deputy Director General in a large hospital, found the productivity of Lisa’s team to be a problem because it was draining his time and energy. Lisa was responsible for a team who provided many valuable services to the hospital’s doctors and patients. John believed the team wasn’t made up of the right individuals and that roles were probably not defined well enough so the dynamic in the team required some kind of teamwork intervention.

Lisa’s team members respect Lisa, but they argue and do not cooperate with each other and with her. There is often bickering and some kind of drama going on. This affects performances. Doctors get less than par service… The other day a couple of team members argued in front of clients and this just has to stop. Lisa is a great professional, but any time I try to give her feedback about how she is running the team I feel like she isn’t listening. She’ll either quickly agree with me or say she already knows the problem. She gets defensive.”

John’s initial preference was to send the team to an off site workshop to work through the issues and find solutions. He was frustrated with Lisa’s performances and, because of past interactions with her, John did not believe she could lead this transformation. He certainly saw Lisa as part of the problem, but he did not necessarily see her as part of the solution.

There are many good reasons to hire experts to lead change efforts, but for many reasons changing people who do not want to change is not one of them.

Firstly, change is always linked to resistance, and the person in the best position to lead teams out of resistance should be the one who has the authority to hold the team accountable and support the team in overcoming resistance. There are several other reasons to equip managers to guide teams through change, especially when teams do not want to change.

Organizational development originally shared many themes with medical paradigms. The idea that an expert – a doctor, therapist or consultant – would identify what’s wrong with you and tell you exactly how to fix it was at the foundation of many models. The doctor or the consultant was not only the diagnostician but also expected to be the change agent. With the development of other sciences, and especially brain science, this model is gradually being replaced. In the new model experts educate clients about the decisions they have to make.

Consider what would happen if an expert tried to work with a team who believed the manager was not going to hold them accountable, or if the manager was the reason for the problem in the first place.

In order to change people who do not want to change in a way that will optimize productivity and give your organization access to its full potential, you must make sure that managers are aligned with the effort you are making. It is only then that changes can be achieved and sustained.

One of the main considerations should always be that when the expert leaves, effective practices have already been applied so that the manager will be prepared and equipped to continue with very minimal external support, if any.

By learning how to guide her team through the process, Lisa was able to refine her own strategies, become more open and attentive in her responses to feedback, and position herself effectively as the leader of the team.

“The skill of this process is seen in the ability to cut to the chase and discern critical problems within an organization. The clarity it brings to bear is astounding. Furthermore, the solutions are practical, easily implemented, with results easily tracked by metrics the process helps you define. Under the guidance of this process, Human Resources regained the meaning of treating people as powerful resources within my organization, and not just frustrating pawns in a very difficult chess game. I can’t recommend it enough.” (Deputy Director General, medical industry)

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