Overcoming Obstacles to Innovation in the Office – Part II

In a recent post, I shared some profiles of employees who make change difficult in an office setting.  I offered some ideas on how to work around or through these individuals in the first “Overcoming Obstacles” installment.  Today, I offer thoughts on the remaining change-inhibitors: the Role Player, the Unknown, and the Just One More.

The Role Player & The Unknown: Many of us attribute much of our self-identity with our work roles, and a change in the latter will impact the former.  These individuals will be very concerned about how the proposed change will affect his or her job responsibilities.

“The Unknown” staff member is resistant to change because there are too many unanswered questions for him/her to be comfortable. Discovering what job-related questions keep the “Unknown” awake at night is the first step to helping the staff member be more comfortable with change in the office. To help get the “Role Player” and “Unknown” on board with proposed changes within the office, communication is key.

During the introduction of the proposed idea, you may not be ready to discuss how the changes will affect each person and his or her individual role.  If you can, share information to reassure the person about what you do know will–or will not–change.  For example, I went through a change process in an office and we were all told that no one would be let go and no one’s salary would be reduced.  Job functions and titles were subject to change, but I knew I still had a job (albeit one with different responsibilities) and my paycheck would not be negatively affected.  There was still uncertainty during the process, but the greatest fears were off the table.

As the change process continues, continue to communicate to the Role Players within your office in order to keep them up-to-date with information.  Do not promise anything you cannot deliver and be careful what information you do share. Staff will tend to hear your comment that “there is a chance we may move to a larger facility” as “we are all getting larger offices in a new, high-tech facility that has windows overlooking downtown .”

Information is a desired commodity within an office. Providing accurate and timely information allows the Role Players and Unknowns within your office to feel more secure with change.

Just One More: The final personality that can impede innovation is sometimes the most difficult to unearth.  The Just One More person agrees that things have to change in the office; the current operation is not sustainable or in the best interests of the organization.  However, the solution this person provides is always adding staff or budget dollars.  While there are times organizations have to add staff or budget, the “Just One More” employee sees this as the go-to solution for problems.  To help this person think beyond bodies and dollars, consider the following tactics:

  • Lottery and Bankrupt: Have staff envision what changes they would implement if money were not an issue and what changes they would implement if they were forced to cut 10% out of the operational (not salary) expense.  This exercise will allow people to dream big and identify areas that are not mission critical.  The next step is to have individuals brainstorm how to do more on the first list with only a slight increase in budget, say the dollar amount equal to 10% of the operational budget. Their new ideas they identified in the first exercise will be funded by the money they saved by implementing the cuts during the second exercise.
  • Process Review: If your office needs a jolt of efficiency, consider leading staff through a process review.  Staff members identify a process they deal with on a regular basis that causes them frustration.  Have staff identify all the steps of the process (details is important during this step), who touches the process, who is affected by the process, and what is the desired outcome needed by the process.  Often, the individual can identify areas/steps that are inefficient or time wasters (often occurring when processes require the employee to gather approvals or hand-off to other staff).  Having the employee identify areas of improvement creates buy-in for change and can improve office efficiency without spending a dollar or hiring more staff.  And if their solution creates a better work environment, the next time a change is suggested, the employee may look for areas to improve as opposed to adding staff or dollars.

Change can be difficult.  Change is inevitable.  Preparing your office for change through good communication and allowing staff to suggest ideas for improvement will help make the process more palatable for employees.


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Career Management, Change and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Overcoming Obstacles to Innovation in the Office – Part II

  1. Pingback: Overcoming Obstacles to Innovation | Kevin Monahan – Career Seeker's Guide

  2. Excellent series, Kevin. I genuinely learned a lot, and I think the types are applicable to students and friends as well as office workers. We all fight change in some way, and since life is change, it’s inevitable that we’re helping others through change in myriad settings. Thanks for the insights!

  3. Pingback: Overcoming Obstacles to Innovation in the Offic...

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