Girl Talk Career Blog

May 15, 2010

How to Be Your Own Change Management Consultant (and a Little Help from David Bowie)

I’ve been a Bowie fan for years now. And lately I seem to be an Alexander Kjerulf fan but for entirely different reasons.  No, no. Penelope Trunk hasn’t been dethroned. But I also like what Alexander has to say about careers and I’m especially tickled about his self-annointed title CHO (Chief Happiness Officer). Cute. Alexander, like myself and Penelope, frequently gives career advice in a variety of areas. With the recession and plethora of layoffs many people are obsessed over employability, training for a new career and career transition.

David Bowie would probably agree with the benefits of change to a radical degree and therefore he’s more likely to side with Alexander and Penelope than me. Have you ever looked at his pictures from the earliest stages in his career and now? 

Wow.  He is unrecognizable (yep that’s really Bowie) and not merely because of his youth. (Personally I think he got better looking as he got older but that’s just my opinion). However in Bowie’s case constant change made an incredible amount of sense. He probably didn’t realize it then but he was the prototype for today’s worker and the elements of change in image, roles and career direction in order to stay current and keep employed (and maybe to have a little fun too). 

Now as I said in my previous post Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft it’s always important to know if you’re in an industry or a job that will soon be made redundant then you can plan your career change accordingly. I’ve done some of the research for you in that post but of course if you’ve become inspired by the concept of career change or frightened by the notion that yes you are on shaky ground then by now you’re probably sifting through options to make that change. Interestingly Penelope and Alexander seem to have a common ground where I cannot tred: they are both obsessed with job satisfaction as opposed to security or salary. I can already hear you shrieking “Girlfriend! There is no such thing as job security anymore!” Well to a point that’s correct but at the very least you can improve your job security odds by investing in a long term career that seldom dips in terms of supply and demand (teacher or registered nurse for example).  See the Jump Ship post….

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you aren’t happy so much with your industry and your job as you are with your place of work. Now that’s a different kettle of fish entirely.  If you’re stuck with a bad boss, bad co-workers, bad reviews and a bad salary then perhaps you do have a valid need to pack up and head on out of there

Before you jump ship however you need to take a critical look at what it is you’re running away from and running toward. In other words figure out what it is that requires change. You know what they say “don’t fix what ain’t broke?” Well have you considered that it’s not the organization that’s the problem here but you? Check out this link and if you’re finding yourself harrassed on a fairly regular basis by your boss and co-workers it may be that you are indeed the fly in the ointment.

The only way you can figure this out is to get the input of a third party. Trust me you can never be completely objective about you so if you’re going to consider changing your career, your boss or your place of work you have to rely upon an outside source for feedback about you. Do you have a reliable confidante at work whom you can request some friendly feedback over lunch? (without you picking up an axe like the rather frustrated woman above).  Be prepared to hear anything because trust me some of it won’t be pleasant no matter how great a worker you are. In spite of that no matter what the feedback you should congratulate yourself because you have just become your own Change Manager.

So let’s say it turns out that you’re right. The organization does stink and your co-worker loathes the boss as much as you do. If that’s the case and you can trust her, enjoy lunch, enjoy the bitch fest then get back to work smug in the knowledge that you are indeed ready for a new employer and your loathsome boss doesn’t even know it yet.

Worse case scenario: your co-worker tells you that the boss is alright most of the time and she doesn’t mind the company. Now what? Now it’s time to consider a little self-change management. Become your own change management consultant in terms of your role at work and your attitude and you might find that your job becomes a lot more enjoyable and your boss a lot less loathsome as a result. Let’s apply some of the change management principles you’ve read about in the link above entitled “Change Manager“.

  1. Start from the ground up. Identify what you dislike about your current role. Too repetitive? Not enough promotional opportunity? You seem to get overlooked for the really interesting projects? Well. If you’ve been miserable at work then you’ve probably performed at half-mast so no wonder your boss is reluctant to offer you bigger and better projects. Take a deep breath, grab a notebook and pen and approach your boss, requesting an interview when she has time in order to give you some feedback on how you’re doing and how you can work to improve your work performance. Trust me, she’ll be thrilled to hear you say it.
  2. Meet with the boss and jot notes about how to improve (change) your work performance. Make sure you take notes because you will forget much of it later. You’ll have an emotional reaction which is normal and that will make a lot of information slip your mind. Try to remain composed and whatever you do DON’T get into an argument with your boss! You asked for the feedback and you’re getting it.
  3. Ask for suggestions about how to improve your work performance.  Don’t be in the dark about this part of your personal change managment. You need to be on the same page as your boss or you may end up making changes in ways that aren’t resolving any issues.
  4. Ask your boss is she will schedule another interview with you. Choose a specific date then and there. Don’t leave her office until she commits to another appointment for giving you feedback about your change management. An important aspect of change management is ongoing feedback.
  5. Your notes are your blueprint for your change management. Whichever areas your boss as stated need improvement you must begin there first. Is it your punctuality? Is your work a little sloppy at times and you have too many do-overs?  Are you sullen and grouchy much of the time? Time to change!
  6. Consider a career coach. If you find your boss’s suggestions too overwhelming to handle on your own get a career coach. Set out the boss’s objectives for you and discuss how best to go about them with a professional who is on the outside of the organization.
  7. Decide if you really want to change. How much does remaining employed with that company matter to you? How much does job satisfaction really matter? If you don’t give a hoot either way then stay exactly as you are and hope you don’t end up getting fired.
  8. Put your plan into action. Let’s assume you want to remain employed and you want to enjoy your job again (if you ever did). Alright Girlfriend it’s time to organize your notes from your career coach and your boss and download your plan into a template. If you ‘ve decided not to work with a career coach you may need to design your own change management template. Here’s a suggestion.
  9. Give your boss a copy of your change management plan. Give her time to look it over. She may want to re-schedule with you right away to assist you with your plan.
  10. Record the changes you have been putting into place. It’s important to document your progress, both for yourself and your boss.
  11. Record your feelings and your perspective on your job in a personal diary. This isn’t for the boss’s eyes so don’t type anything onto your work computer. Get a diary and write about how you’re feeling and any changes you’re noticing in the people around you. You’ll probably notice some positive changes right away. Make sure however that you aren’t silly enough to blog about your work situation! That’s an absolute social media no-no and believe it or not blogging about work could end up getting you fired.
  12. Follow-up with the boss. Ideally the two of you will have already chosen a date to meet again and discuss your change management plan during your first meeting. She will evaluate your progress and you will take notes about her feedback so you can put them into effect and for your memory’s sake. You still have a ways to go no doubt but I have a feeling you’ll be hearing some very positive critique!
  13. Evaluate your own progress. After all the changes you’ve made and the diplomatic criticism you’ve received from your boss if you still aren’t happy then perhaps you are ready to Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft. 

 And while you’re managing change, here’s a little more David Bowie inspiration to wrap things up and motivate your Changes .

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