December 5, 2008

It is said old habits die hard. Often this truth of life becomes a big headache for organizations. When what you have been doing since a long time suddenly stops bearing fruits, there is an urgent need to shake things up and bring innovative approach into practice. But old habits make the transition from "comfort zone" to "a new approach that is potentially rewarding but risky" difficult. People prefer to continue embracing the old way of doing things even when things don't seem to improve. The pain and discomfort of moving away from the habitual seems much more than the rewards that comes from pursuing an uncharted territory that is potentially rewarding but risky. As a result, status quo is maintained for too long a time which adversely affects an organization.

Change is initially painful. With every change people have to adjust, make changes to their way of thinking, and learn new habits. This transition period generally is tumultuous. But in larger interest of the organization and its people, it needs to be executed despite all the associated resentment and pain.

In such situation where there is resentment to change, a leader has to take charge and use all his persuasive skills to convince people why change is unavoidable and must be adopted. But if this approach fails to make people change, somewhere the leader has to foot his feet down and force the desired change ruthlessly. In such situations of forced change, the key is to start moving on the road to change, close all exit routes to turn back, and then teach the virtues of change to your people during the journey.

Never ever shy away from change when it is a necessity. If need be, be ruthless and firm. Sometimes one needs to administer painful injections to treat a deadly disease despite all the associated discomfort!