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Turnover at the top

One supervisor was counting up the number of plant managers he had seen come and go during the past five years. There were seven different people at the top, each with their own agenda.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that employees might roll their eyes at yet another imperative change coming from a senior executive who might not be there in six to eighteen months.

While some resistance can be aggressive in nature, most resistance is passive. People pay lip service but don’t change their behavior.

If you are in a senior leadership position, and especially if there have been a few predecessors with grand visions, consider taking a different approach:

  1. Pace reality – Instead of trying to convince everyone that this time will be different, acknowledge what they are thinking and suggest that despite their skepticism they need to help the organization move forward.
  2. Connect the Dots – Build on what has been done before instead of throwing it all away. Employees don’t want to see that their past efforts are deemed worthless by the new leader. This also helps counter ‘flavor of the month’ by showing the link between various initiatives.
  3. Give credit to the people – As a leader, make sure that the employees and front line leaders get the credit for the change they create.

If you are lower in the organization, try to moderate your level of cynicism and give the new boss a chance to make a difference. Recognize the link between various initiatives over the years. Find ways to make things work instead of excuses and reasons it won’t work.

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