“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”
This powerful quote, most commonly attributed or misattributed, as some would argue to Charles Darwin perfectly reflects the underlying theme of the 2nd instalment from the Glow at work masterclass series. Whether it was in fact Charles Darwin who said this, or a paraphrase gone wrong by Dr Meggison of Louisiana State University*, it’s rather ironic that I had to do exactly what the quote suggests in order to ‘survive’. Or allow this blog post to survive that is. And that is adapting to change (new information in this case). I write this introduction in an attempt to appease both parties, those who argue that Darwin did say this and those who argue against it. Trivial (or simply pedantic) though it may seem, it demonstrates the importance of change, and managing it carefully and consciously. Instant application, I know Mark would be proud! But this is particularly important when change is all around us, whether we want it or not. And organisations in today’s knowledge-based, increasingly online economy have important choices to make about how adaptable they want to be.
This was the message Mark Gilroy successfully delivered in his charismatic, personable and very engaging style. As a master-certified trainer in the full suite of Margerison-McCann Team Management Systems development tools, Mark shared with us the practical tools available to help safely navigate teams through the minefield of changes that face them. Change can of course be enforced upon us, and so we are being reactive in dealing with it. But the key is foresight, and being proactive to anticipated change. Mark described a formula for successful change, which illustrates this forward focus:
Change = a next step + wider vision + degree of discomfort (in the current situation).
Mark then took us through the extensive repertoire of tools available to help teams achieve success, in whichever way they define it. He broke down these tools into a useful framework for identifying levels of human behaviour. The first level represents ‘preferences’, or the styles in which we prefer to work. The Team Management Profile, based on a combination of work activities and working behaviours, identifies 1 of 8 possible major types of work we prefer to do. With the full complement of these 8 preferences of working covered, highly functioning teams can be created. The next level is ‘Risk orientation’. Pretty self-explanatory. However, it’s still a multi-faceted construct, as shown by the QO2 tool which measures ‘moving towards goals’, ‘multi-pathways’, ‘optimism’, ‘fault-finding’ & ‘time-focus’. Collectively, these five factors determine the risk orientation of individuals, and hence how comfortable one is in a high risk, change-orientated organisation or team. Finally, at the core of our behaviours lie our values. The real reason, or the ‘why?’ behind our actions. Based around two dimensions, values can be measured on a continuum of organisational constraint (i.e. compliance & conformity) to organisational freedom (empowerment and independence) and self focus (individualism) to group focus (collectivism). A very important implication of values is the fact that if personal values don’t overlap with organisational ones, employees and therefore teams will not be motivated to perform. This congruency is at a fundamental level, the trigger for successful change, as the desire to create a successful organisation stems from a deep personal level of values. Using the appropriate level of tool, Mark has been transforming the performance of teams in a whole range of organisations, across many sectors for a number of years. He offered a very practical approach for all of the attendees, who could take away useful tips and techniques to apply in their own teams and work places.
This blog must finish with some words of wisdom from Mark which really hit home for me… The golden rule – treat others the way you wish to be treated – is not greater than the platinum rule – treat others the way they want to be treated. This highlights the importance of sensitivity for individual differences within work and life. We are all unique personalities, with individual aspirations, strengths and ‘developmental areas’ and this should be recognised by the people we connect with each and every day. The key is realising the true potential that exists in each person, rather than creating an army of robots. Understanding human capital must be high on the agenda of organisations, as in this changing world, the importance and potential of human innovation and talent cannot be overstated.
Posted by Raj Chopra, Trainee Occupational Psychologist at Glow at work. Follow me on twitter – @Raj_Glowatwork
*The Darwin Correspondence Project: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/six-things-darwin-never-said