Change Management: People Know When They Are Being Played, and Value When They Aren’t

When Dan Ouellette, Director of Sales, Charles Luck Stone Centers, talks about Luck Stone, it’s with pride. Somewhere in conversations with him, the company’s values always arise. And one value always gives me pause–that value is respect. Respect for employees, for customers, suppliers both national and international, and the communities in which Luck Stone operates.

One example Dan shared was how Luck Stone was open and transparent–approaching the community first when it wanted to expand its quarry business there. Concerns and issues could be raised and responded to.

What a contrast this was to an experience in my residential community. At a town hall, we were presented with the plans for major highway changes after the fact and as if they were a fait accompli. The atmosphere in the auditorium turned dark, as if a fast-moving storm had arrived. We knew someone was trying to play us. The town hall went downhill from there. The end result was well-organized, sustained effort by our community to block the project. So far, with the help of our political leaders, we have had success.

Are you planning a significant change for your organization?

I fully subscribe to benevolent dictatorship-someone must lead, be willing to assert herself or himself on behalf of the company and to meet business objectives. But the benevolent part here refers to respecting the stakeholders involved–communicating early, and often, gathering their input and being responsive to it or explaining why it cannot be responded to in one way but might another.

If you are leading change, make sure your change management strategy includes input from those impacted. Ways to gather that input include running focus groups, surveying a diagonal slice of the organization about the proposed change, or interviewing key stakeholder groups. Find ways to keep this a learning process for everyone. Be willing to listen to pushback as well as support, and be responsive. You will identify and eliminate organizational landmines, make new, helpful discoveries, and likely, discover ways to achieve the initial objective more sustainably and at a lower cost.

If you are leading change and do not do this, beware. People know when they are being played. And value it where they aren’t. You’re the leader. Short-term gain (maybe) or long-term sustainability built on respect. You choose.

U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240

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