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Change How You Change

Posted By: Mike Fitzgerald | Posted on: 05-05-2022

The changes we don’t like are the changes that aren’t our idea. And when the changes we have to lead aren’t our idea, it’s on us to step up to the challenge, in some cases, whether we like it or not.

Think about it. Mask mandates. Supply chain challenges that make some of our favorite products unavailable. Overnight delivery that suddenly isn’t guaranteed. The cost of consumable goods, particularly groceries and gas prices.

But organizational change is different.

I made a speech to a group of community bankers in Phoenix in 1994. The title of my speech was “Change or Die.” The message was that if banks don’t adapt to the changing needs of their customers, particularly their growing appetite for digital delivery, they won’t have a bank to manage in the future.

There were roughly 14,500 banks in the U.S. at that time. Today, there are about 4,500. The reality of bank failures for financial reasons aside, approximately 10,000 banks have lost their independence since then for one of two reasons. Either selling the bank was the logical exit strategy for a family, senior executives, or shareholders, or they failed to manage change.

There are three ways that change can fail in an organization, not just banks:

I wrote this about change a long time ago from something I read and lived throughout my career (author unknown), “Change is not about whether it’s needed or not, or whether it’s good or bad. Change is about whether leaders can balance the need to change with the capacity to change. Adaptation to new realities requires change, but not all change will get you there.”

Choose the hill(s) you want to die on carefully. Better yet, focus on the hill(s) you can conquer. Assuming we can inflict relentless change on our people without seeing it through before moving on to the next change is a recipe for failure. A company can change only as fast as its people can absorb the change, support the new vision, and execute on it.

Make sure people understand why you’re asking them to change. True leaders lead the change actively. They know the facts, address concerns, and get buy-in from their team. They listen, and they learn. They ask their people how to effect change from their perspective and cultivate joint ownership in the process. And they accept responsibility for change that doesn’t work…then move on.

Mike Fitzgerald 21 Posts

Fitzgerald MSI provides clients with a talent management framework that helps them make better hiring, advancement and talent development decisions. We identify how people process information and make decisions, predict how they are motivated, and suggest how well they fit into the client’s culture. We help clients select the right people, and accelerate the onboarding and assimilation process to make them more productive, more quickly. And we help clients improve relationships among and between teams, manage training and development gaps, and identify next-generation managers and executive leadership. Mike Fitzgerald, the president of Fitzgerald MSI, created the company in 2002 to help clients achieve peak performance to improve the client experience, improve efficiency and productivity and enhance revenue. Clients include E *TRADE, TransAmerica, Direct General Insurance, HarlandClarke, Cendant Corporation, State Bank Financial Corporation, ING DIRECT (now Capital One), CHD Meridian Healthcare, Radio-One, Wilmington Trust Company, and more. Fitzgerald is a former chief talent officer, president and CEO, chief operating, officer, and sales, leader. He is a certified practitioner in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Hogan assessments. He’s been a consultant to Fortune-100 companies, startups, turnarounds, and served as an executive officer for companies as large as $4 billion. He’s an Economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts, a frequent speaker at industry events, and the author of three books on service quality, client experience management, and business communications.