We are all familiar with it – the stuff in the air that prevents one from seeing the road signs ahead. Does it exist in organizations? Several weeks ago, while working with a large system, the President/COO commented “it feels to me like they are in the fog!” He was responding to a presentation of a draft design for a large group meeting that would be engaging a microcosm of all employees. The “they” that he was referring to were the front line employees who would be participating in the meeting being designed. The implication in his comment was that because “they” are in the fog, “they” are not helping to bring about the change that needs to happen.
The “fog” was his perception, and the truth is “they” probably don’t feel like they were in a fog – the front line employees are just doing their jobs the best they knew how with the information and resources they have. The President/COO is W-A-Y ahead of the front line in terms of seeing the big picture and knowing what needed to happen to bring about the change; he’s also had a relatively long period of time to adjust. “They,” on the other hand, probably know little about the reasons for the change, how it will impact them, and what they can do to support it. They also probably have heard more rumors than facts and have had little or no opportunity to seek clarity and understanding. So my point in all this is we, the consultants, need to help leaders lead in a way that engages employees in a timely and appropriate fashion to create understanding of and commitment to support the change. Always keep in mind that people support what they help to create!
Partner, Dannemiller Tyson Associates