I was at the shoe store yesterday, patiently waiting for assistance using the large silver and black shoe-size machine; you know the device that has been around for years, with the sliding gauges. You would think that by now, they would have some sort of laser scanning sizer. Well, while I was waiting, I overheard (OK, I was actually eavesdropping) a conversation between the clerk and apparently his brand new manager.
The manager was explaining that things were going to change and everyone better get onboard, and she asked if she could get buy-in from the clerk. I could tell the manager was very frustrated; it seems the reason I was stuck waiting was because a clerk named Sam was late –again. It seems Sam being late was a practice the old manager couldn’t manage. Hence, the new manager.
I thought about this experience and the conversation I heard. All managers, especially new managers, have those opportunities in what I call, expressing discipline. The problem is, these new managers use the phrase ‘things must change.’ This phrase is mostly incorrect.
It is not that things must change, rather, it is things must be managed.
Some organizations just need to focus on managing – not changing. A question I hear a lot from business leaders is how to get buy-in. To me, the first thing that must be determined before we discuss getting buy-in, is whether it’s truly buy-in or just management that’s needed. I look at this way – if an organization has become complacent, then they have become lackadaisical in their management as well. It’s not buy-in their employees need, it’s a defined job description.
When organizations preach change, they are actually preaching ‘What we were supposed to be doing wasn’t really important until now, and now we have to change.’ This is extremely frustrating to those individuals who knew all long things were going astray and believed nobody in leadership cared.
When your team is built with great people, they will understand the need for management.
They also understand that if the goal is to do what should have been done all along, that is not change, it is simply management.
“The word ‘currently’ should always be in front of the statement ‘This is how we do it.’ Then change will be expected.”
All leaders should save the word change for when things really constitute it. Organizations need change when what they are doing falls out of alignment with the goals they need accomplished. Change is scary, and if your team is one with Esprit De Corps, they will not only welcome change, they will be eager to help create it.
Fighting an environment through the unnecessary merits of buy-in becomes more about the leader than those they lead. Leaders don’t spend time creating buy-in, they develop people who understand that a job description should always start with the word ‘currently’. This team also understands that without being agile and adaptable, their company’s goals, as well as their own, are very rarely met enthusiastically, if they are ever reached at all.
So if you’re a new leader, or one that has a new purpose brought on by yourself or others, before you start yelling about change, make sure the real focus isn’t just management. Maybe – you need to change! So the only buy-in you need is yours.
Give your team the credit they deserve along with the leadership they seek and manage them.
I look forward to going back to that shoe store. I wonder if the new manager is still looking for buy-in, or if she has figured out how simply providing clear job descriptions and managing her expectations of those job descriptions will provide what she thought needed change. I wonder if Sam will be there; I think yes. But I doubt the other clerk will be.
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