May 21, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 23:00
I suffered a panic attack after someone left an article on my desk titled “Managing Change.” Throughout my career, whenever the boss began talking about “managing change,” something terrible happened — layoffs, pay cuts, hiring freezes, no more Christmas party, no more Twinkees in the vending machine or they sold our building and moved us to a trailer park near the town transfer station.
Has your boss ever called you into his office and said, “I’m sending you to a session on managing change because you’re getting a $10,000 raise?” Or “You need to learn to manage change because I’m letting you work from home?” No, it’s always bad news.
The idea of “managing change” was invented by some human resources guru who wanted to make millions in consultant’s fees so he could buy a home in the Hamptons.
Before then, we didn’t need to manage change because we were too busy managing employees — at least until an epidemic of greed broke out, and mergers and acquisitions and buyouts became as commonplace as Saturday morning soccer matches. HR started sending us to indoctrination sessions with experts who had Ph.D.s and BMWs and degrees in organizational something-or-other.
They’d corral us into crowded conference rooms and entice us with bottled water and bowls of hard candy while consultants, who sounded like therapists trying to talk us off the ledge, scribbled on whiteboards and babbled about the need to manage change if Western Civilization, not to mention the company, was going to survive.
One consultant, who I suspect worked part time at Toys R Us, passed out mood rings and said if the ring turned black, we were NOT managing change correctly and in serious danger of a stress-induced heart attack. I asked her for medication, but instead she gave me a rubber ball to squeeze and a complimentary paper bag to breathe into. Actually, it wasn’t complimentary. She charged the company $5 a bag.
To break the ice, they went around the room and told us to describe ourselves as vegetables or cartoon characters. (This is a true story.) While we were impersonating Brussels sprouts and Porky Pig, the big-shots were plotting massive layoffs and departmental reorganizations that sent our work to some country only National Geographic had heard of.
To their thinking, employees weren’t being “fired,” they were being “downsized” and “right-sized,” which meant you’d come to work the next day and discover the person next to you had been vaporized or if you were the lucky, you got vaporized and had to start a new career growing Brussels sprouts.
Then, the staff, or what was left of the staff, was told the company’s revised mission statement was “do more with less,” while the guy who made the cuts got a huge bonus. In a nutshell, that is what managing change is all about. And I don’t even have a Ph.D. in organizational something-or-other.
As far as change goes, the best advice I ever got came from a recovering alcoholic who told me, “Take it a day at a time.” Then, throw away the mood ring and dust off your résumé.
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