Organization Change: Uncertainty is Predictable

Guess what? Things are going to change! What a big surprise that seems to be in some organizations. But I just met with a group of managers who are almost always preparing for change.  I told them that one of the most frequent questions I get from managers is, “How do we retain knowledge from people who are leaving due to retirement or taking new jobs?”  They laughed at me.

“We are always preparing for the day people leave,” one woman told me. “Most of our people in key jobs spend at least 3 hours a month mentoring at least one partner in how to do their most important tasks. The bonus is that when they pair up like that, they usually find a faster or easier way to do the job, so work keeps getting smarter.”

Those dialogues are valuable for many reasons, the group explained. It doesn’t just get one task to be performed more efficiently – it lets more people know what other people are doing. So they get to see a bigger picture of the work in each department. “The more people know about what we do here, the better they can coordinate on a daily basis, and the more prepared we are to change things when we need to do that,” another manager said.

This group took a class on “Dealing with Uncertainty” recently. The conclusion at least some of them came to was that uncertainty is predictable. A senior manager explained, “We keep refining our work practices and systems because we never know when we will face a big change that we can’t control. We have to stay ready and flexible.”

Keep the inter-job dialogues going, whether formally or informally, they recommend. They all agreed on another thing: “We predict that things are going to change.”

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