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Archive for December, 2012

A Season for Change?

In the Southern hemisphere we are fast approaching the Christmas holidays. The season began in earnest a few weeks ago with that rush towards self imposed year end deadlines and tired people making mistakes by rushing to get things done.

When we hit the holidays proper it spells a period of just over a month before things get back to normal. With extended holidays due to the summer weather kick in, it often takes till February before everyone is back on the job and organisations are back to full strength.

So what does that mean for your culture change? If you kicked one off this year you will know that it takes a good 18 months of the various pieces of change effort before it delivers, so it means that, for many, this is a period where ‘not a lot happens’ on the change front. But should it be a ‘change dead zone’? Here are a couple of thoughts that can make this holiday season a positive one for your change.

  1. Its not a good time to start a new phase of your change, introducing a new topic or focusing on anything intently, because fundamentally nobody is going to pay attention. Year-end-itus has kicked in and getting people to focus on the day job is hard enough never mind a critical new stage of your change. However this is the season of celebration and reflection generally and that makes it a good time to reflect on what has happened so far. Its a good period to celebrate the successes achieved to date, to reward people for their change related efforts and to communicate to everyone the good points of the change so far. It doesn’t take much effort to do this if you have been recognising success through the year, recapping on the plan as you go along, and communicating regularly. All you really have to do is get people together in a forum where the change can be celebrated, at a time when celebrating seems to be a good idea anyway.
  2. This is the right time to get the plan right for the start of the year. Many people let the ball drop, wait till everyone gets back (we all need to be in the meetings to agree things, right?) and then start putting the plans in place for the next steps and stages. As nothing much can happen in January then you don’t start organising things till February and before you know it, its March and your change has hibernated for roughly three months. And unlike a Bear its not going to come out all rested and ready to go. Its lost its momentum and people will have forgotten its there. So now is the time to work out the actions for January and February. To get dates set. To get things ordered ready for delivery. To write what needs written. And when you do plan for a staged build up by using January as a ‘whats coming next?’ communication phase with smaller engagements on the way to the next big launch in February. The secret with culture change is to make sure something is happening regularly, even if there are not many people around, so keep things happening. Plan and organise now.

So two tips to make sure you get the most from those last few weeks of the working year by keeping change in season.