Dissatisfaction is Part of the Deal for Change Agents
While working out at the gym the other day, I indulged in bit of TV nostalgia and watched the Beverly Hillbillies. This particular episode had Jed and Granny discussing how to deliver some disappointing news to Jethro. “Now, don’t worry Granny,” Jed said reassuringly, “I’ll go easy on him. There’s more ‘n one way to skin* a cat you know.” Ever the skeptic, Granny replied, “Yeah, but there ain’t no ways that the cat’s gonna like.” First, I chuckled at the joke. Then, I found myself thinking about the wisdom behind the humor.
Throughout my career, I’ve participated in countless organizational changes: downsizing, corporate change initiatives, reorganizations, technology roll outs, benefit plan changes. (Haven’t we all?) On some occasions, I’ve been involved in executing those changes as an HR generalist, supervisor or project manager. On others, I’ve been on the receiving end of the change.
This is what I’ve noticed: no matter how much input is gathered, no matter how many different ways the message is communicated and even if the change is desperately needed, those not directly involved with initiating the change are not likely to be overly thrilled with it at first.
Granny’s humorous quip serves as an excellent reminder for change agents: our work life sometimes requires us to do things that others will perceive as unpleasant, even painful. Of course, those in charge of driving change (the “shavers”, as it were) should do everything in their power to ready the “shave-ees” for the impending change. By the same token, the change initiators must reconcile with the fact that they’ll most likely get the equivalent of scratches and hisses from the recently “shorn”.
What are some ways that you’ve helped ease the “razor burn” of a new change that you are implementing?
*Out of respect for the cats that have lived in our household, I prefer the slightly more humane “more than one way to shave a cat”.