Looking for Organizational Change?

Organizational change begins by making deep changes in ourselves. We are now embarking on chapter 6 of Robert E. Quinn’s Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. There are nuggets to be found in each of these chapters and I’m hoping that you have been enjoying the journey of discovering the leader within yourself as you take the time to unpack more about yourself as a leader.  I have been enjoying this revisit of Quinn’s Deep Change as an opportunity to slow down before the hustle and bustle of the New Year begins.

This chapter is about taking the time to start changing the systems around us. “An organization is a collective entity for accomplishing specific tasks. Every organization has a group of systems- a cultural system, a strategic system, a technical system, and a political system. In an environment of constant change, each of these systems…tends to wear down. Alignment within and between the systems is lost. We find ourselves working harder than ever, yet we benefit less and less from our efforts. As tension mounts, we look for someone to blame. The real problem, however, is embedded in the underlying organizational systems that have shifted out of alignment – with each other and sometimes with the external environment” (Quinn, 1996, p. 60). We have so much to do, that we continue to stay busy even at the expense of doing things that do not accomplish the end result. If we are to be successful with organizational change, we need to make the right leadership decisions about what to change and how.

I see this happen so often in call centers that have quality review departments. The quality department is often called to assist with answering phones. When they get called to assist with other duties, their primary function of reviewing calls gets left undone. Then when the quality review representatives get back to the job of reviewing calls, they feel overloaded and swamped with more work than they can handle. Consequently when they review calls back to back, without leaving any time in between the reviews the representatives are unable to change their behaviors. The task of reviewing calls, takes precedence over helping the representatives to receive the coaching that they need. So many calls get scored, but there are no changes experienced in the data that is accumulated by the quality review department because the representatives did not have time to identify where changes needed to be made before another call was monitored.  Although the quality department worked extra hard to review the number of calls that they needed to score, they did not give the organization any results to work with.  This is an example where the organization worked really hard to get a task done, but did not step back to consider the right task that was needed in order to best support the organization.

What would have helped everyone in this situation, is to alert the organization that the designated number of calls would not be monitored that month;  instead of monitoring 500 calls, now only 300 would be monitored.  However, the calls that were monitored would be spaced apart so that the organization could respond to the feedback contained in the reports and representatives would be able to change their behaviors before more calls were monitored. Then the ultimate goal of helping the representatives to change their behaviors would be achieved, and the quality review department were not be stressed by monitoring a large number of calls that were not going to make a difference! By stepping back and making this organizational change, everyone wins!

This is an example of making an organizational change that is a short term decision and does not require a change management process. It required the leader to think through the process and make the right leadership decision that would benefit the organization. It took the leader changing the way he/she was thinking in order to make the RIGHT decision for the organization.

What other decisions are out there that need our attention, but we assume that they are working the way they should because “we’ve always done it that way”? It’s time to consider the decisions we are making and how they are impacting the entire organization around us.

Here are some tasks to consider spending some quality time thinking about, asking yourself questions about and then asking questions of others as to how these tasks work.

  1. Standard reports that are run every week. How long have these reports been running the same way? What data do you need from these reports? How much time does it take to run these reports? Are these the right reports to give you the right data in the right amount of time?
  2. Your weekly staff meeting. What do you accomplish? Who usually attends? Are they worth your time? Are the right activities happening in these meetings to achieve the right results in the right amount of time with the right people?
  3. Performance review writing. How long does it take to write your performance reviews? How are they delivered? Are the right things written and talked about in the right ways to get the right performance from your employees?
  4. Handling of escalated calls. How are calls escalated from your customers? What kinds of situations are being escalated? Are the right decisions being made at the right levels by the right people for the good of your customers and your business?
  5. Project management. What projects are currently underway in your business? Are the right projects being handled by the right people in the right ways in the right amount of time?

These are just a few of the tasks that I can think of right away- but there are many others. Are we as leaders making the right decisions for the business or could we benefit from stepping back and considering how our decisions could change for the benefit of everyone?

“Doing the right thing is driven out by the need to be busy…We have too much to do to take the time necessary to do it right. Our individual drive toward task completion thwarts the need for routine maintenance” (Quinn, 1996, p. 60).  What tasks need some routine maintenance to make sure they are running right?



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