As organizations begin to implement their change initiatives and re-establish the way they do work, I cannot help but think about the body of knowledge I worked with during my time in graduate school around covert processes at work. Robert Marshak describes six dimensions that impact any organizational change plan that need to be addressed to ensure the success of that effort. In a previous article, I discussed the different themes organizations need to consider as they set up their ‘return to office’ (or not) strategies. In this article, I will be covering Marshak’s work on hidden covert processes that you will need to keep an eye out for and consider to ensure your organizational change plan is implemented and managed successfully.
To start, what are covert processes?
Unlike overt processes, which can be observed, covert processes are hidden, unspoken, and unacknowledged. They are the collective unconscious dynamics that exist within organizations that regularly impact the interactions and responses of people within the organization. If change management leaders do not account for them in their plans, these processes or dimensions can impact the workflow and stand in the way of achieving organizational goals and change objectives. It is important to know that covert dynamics occur outside of our awareness and you and your employees can be engaging in them without knowing it.
The 6 dimensions of change
Marshak lists six dimensions of change: Reason, Politics, Inspirations, Emotions, Mindset, and Psychodynamics. The first is the only overt dimension out of the six whereas the latter 5 are covert. Read More…
There I was, sitting in the office of a senior executive who was struggling to come to terms with the reality that their organizational change effort, though having somewhat significant success initially, was not sustaining. People were quickly slipping back to old behaviors and engagement measures were sliding back to where they were when the change process started.
As I learned more about the “culture” change efforts that this organization had engaged in over the last year and a half, it became clear to me where it went sideways. This leader is not alone in succumbing to this common misconception about what culture is and isn’t and I felt that it was time to take a moment to clarify a few things for the rest of my readers who may be feeling similar frustrations.
The concept of organizational culture has become widely accepted as a critical component of performance in recent years. With this, I find that a great many of my discussions with leaders, often, teeter between several topics that fall within the realm of culture but are not one and the same. This reality can create some understandable confusion and frustration for people.
One common situation that I find myself running into are conversations with business leaders who are attempting to evolve the cultures of their organization but who, in reality, are focusing on organizational climate. Many business leaders tend to utilize the terms organizational culture and organizational climate interchangeably, and while they share many similarities, there are several key differences that delineate them from one other.
In every organization, there will be people that you find to be “difficult”. The question is how to navigate these people in a productive way and that doesn’t cause excess stress for you or your team. What can you do? What you do say? What do you ignore? gothamCulture’s Chris Cancialosi discusses this topic with Wanda Wallace on VoiceAmerica Business Channel. Click here to listen!
No offense to your MBA, but you learned everything you need to know about being an executive in kindergarten. Business schools provide the strategies necessary to run companies, but true leadership comes down to understanding people.
Think back to your first day of kindergarten. Unless you were a wildly outgoing 5-year-old, you probably felt shy and scared. What if I don’t make any friends? What if the schoolwork is hard? What if I miss my mom? These anxieties aren’t all that different from those experienced by business leaders (aside from the mom part). The fix is the same as it was back then: Be brave. Walk into the room, do your best, and work to build new connections.
I’ve worked with numerous intelligent, capable executives who have years of relevant experience. They often suffer from insecurities that we all face at some point in our lives. One of the more common issues is imposter syndrome, which causes otherwise qualified leaders to struggle with the fear of being “found out.” This can cause people to question their every action and isolate themselves from colleagues.
Leaders who struggle with feelings of inadequacy are reluctant to confide in their peers. They stuff their feelings and eventually end up living in a lonely leadership fishbowl. Given that solitary leaders are less effective than their more sociable peers, their fears of falling short often come true.
Sharing your uncertainties is unbelievably liberating; it also humanizes you and lets your team know you care. Escape the leadership fishbowl by embracing your vulnerability.