A report on a talk given by Ruth Walker at a joint lunchtime event.
business matters, OASIS Edinburgh and Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland are grateful to Balfour and Manson for hosting this lunchtime talk and to the individuals who provided a sandwich lunch for those attending.
To listen to the talk click the link at the foot of the page where you will also be able to view the powerpoint presentation Ruth used.
Ruth started by introducing herself and briefly describing her own business, Turquoise Insight, and her previous career.
She reflected that she had been involved in a lifetime of change – sometimes from a manager’s perspective organising change, sometimes communicating change or sometimes having the change “done to her”. There are occasions when change doesn’t seem to make a difference but at other times, it is really exhilarating. You may be up on the heights or slogging through the bog. Ruth asked us to consider where we were with respect to change in our lives.
Ruth set out to offer practical tips on how we might be able to deal with this better. A key point Ruth highlighted was the ability to “put yourself in others’ shoes”.
She set out three questions:
- how ready are you for change?
- how might you help others through change?
- how do you thrive in change?
Ruth quoted Darwin in identifying that we need to have the adaptability to thrive through change so that we emerge, not with weariness, but with new purpose and in a positive frame of mind. Four practical things we need to do are:
- be rational – find out what is happening – people generally are trying to do their best. So figure out what is going on in the head of your manager and, if you are a manager, let people know a bit what is going on. If people understand then they can be more supportive.
- be imaginative – find out what your role might be and what the possibilities are – focus on the best outcome rather than the worst.
- be organised – develop a plan
- be involved – then you will discover what the realities and opportunities are
Ruth invited comment from the audience about how change is impacting them at present.
She moved on to ask how you find out if what you are hearing about a change process is fact, fiction or rumour. Highlighting that there may be limitations on what people can tell you either legally or practically, nonetheless, if you ask questions in a non-threatening, open way then you may find out more about what is going on. This can be helpful for the manager. Phrases like “What would I need to know to be ready for change?” can be immensely powerful, positive and helpful.
Ruth highlighted that “the grapevine” can become so overgrown that it can choke you.
She identified the need to have a thinking framework when dealing with change. She went through the stages of a well-known process, shown in her slides, identifying stages when we feel we are making progress but end up slipping back down the process. Understanding where you are will help you see progress and where you are going.
Most of the barriers to change, Ruth suggested, are in our mind. She picked out three main types:
and gave some examples around feelings of “will this work?” and concerns about things feeling personally risky.
Focusing on a positive outcome will open our minds and allow us to see a way through the change process rather than a huge wall obstructing our progress. Start dreaming about what your organisation will be like in the future and allow that to help you identify changes you might need to make and behaviours you might need to adopt in order to see that dream realised.
We may be frightened of making a change but Ruth used the example of a compass to illustrate that a small 1-degree change made now can track out to a significant effect in the future – this can be very powerful.
In grasping these ideas Ruth highlighted the need to manage ourselves well. She gave the political prisoner Ingrid Betancourt as an example of someone in very unfavourable circumstances holding on to the idea that no-one could ever remove her ability to “decide who I want to be”. When we seek to do this for ourselves, Ruth suggested that we develop our own personal change plan so that we can track our progress against what we planned, rewriting our CV as our life story of achievements rather than a list of facts, or developing our own “elevator pitch”. Know yourself and value yourself – this is vital. Looking to the Lion on The Wizard of Oz, Ruth quoted “You have plenty of courage I am sure; all you need is confidence”.
Ruth moved finally to consider the three key points when it comes to moving on from where you are:
- remember who you are – rewrite your CV etc. You are being offered a whole set of new opportunities
- review your circumstances, assess your savings and take time to consider what’s possible. Take control – make a plan, take any help you are offered, keep your networks live and be generous in your networks
- Have a critical friend to help keep you on track.
Ruth rounded up her talk and her positive, enthusiastic presentation was certainly effective in inspiring those present.