Monday, March 26, 2007

Amateurs in charge of restructuring?

Q. My employer (government agency) is going through a restructuring initiative at the moment, and I have to say that I have never seen a group of more clueless and stupid people in charge of a change management process before.

There is absolutely no leadership or consultation with staff - they don't have a plan, and certainly don't have a plan b either. Working in this place has become unbearable as they were supposed to tell staff what is to happen to our jobs 2 months ago. To date, there has been no information.

A. Unfortunately the only way to really change, to stop repeating the old habits is to take a big step into the unknown and unless those leading the way are strong leaders and honestly explain what they are trying to do, it will feel very unsettling.

Weak leaders don't like to admit that they don't know and in pretending to know, usually look very silly. Also, depending on the culture, weak leaders, especially when they themselves are nervous, withhold important information because information gives them power. And lastly, as you've observed, the last thing they will do is ask for help.

I think you already understand the choices available to you: continue as best you can and hope that things work out, or find the people who have the information you need and are prepared to inform you, or request a transfer because the present situation is unhealthy.

Although I have never worked for a government agency, I have certainly experienced the turmoil you describe. At some point you have to decide whether you can be part of the process or a victim of it. This is a significant challenge to your leadership as well.

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