My earliest memory of a workplace change was in the late 1970s. I worked for a whitegoods manufacturer with an office staff around 20 and about 50 factory workers. I was a part-time student and worked in the “cost office”. We costed all the appliances on a large sheet of ruled paper, otherwise known as the original spreadsheet. Each screw, washer, motor, sheet metal, etc was listed and costed, to arrive at the cost of materials.
My colleague was a lady in her 60s who had survived the Blitz and was suspicious of an IBM data entry terminal that had been installed in the next room in the Purchasing department. In those days a courier would pick up the tapes and take them to a “data processing centre” and come back with the tape and printouts in the morning. One day we discovered that someone had entered all our costing data in this machine and it came back with the calculations. For some reason, the cents column had about eight decimal places and the grand total was slightly different from our manual figures.
My colleague exploded into tears and lamented that an inaccurate machine was going to take over our jobs. That didn’t happen for the next year or two before I left NZ to come to Australia, but the incident always reminded me about the importance of employee engagement when change is planned. Most of us had no warning that a “computer” was going to be introduced.
During my career I have owned a few small businesses and worked with many others like mine, so when I heard that my former NAB colleague Melanie Frok had written a book for this market, I had to get a copy of Adopt Adapt Flourish.
The 203-page paperback is easy to read. The chapters are:
Humans at varying levels don’t like change in the workplace. Some are threatened, while some are excited by new technology until it dawns on them that it may impact on their work. Change can come from an unexpected quarter — disruptive competition, or off-shoring of manufacturing or processes. Employers have their own reasons for introducing change and they usually know that their employees might not like it. Nevertheless, they need to keep the business running and allay the concerns of the staff.
The book introduces the five-stage Adapt Method:
There are several easy exercises, complete with instructions. Blank templates can be downloaded from Adaptus Consulting.
Not surprisingly, employee engagement is a key theme of the book. Informed employees are less likely to resist, or start unfounded rumours. Ill-prepared managers can also ruin a well-intentioned change programme. High employee engagement leads to higher productivity. Employees who adapt to change become more effective and once they see the benefits of the new situation, they see their own contributions as being part of the improvements.
The book also covers what can go wrong and how to prevent going down that path. It covers resistance from some quarters. Finally, it shows how a new initiative can be transitioned into business-as-usual (BAU).
This book will find a home in every business person’s library. Get it from Amazon.