Depicting the glorious uncertainties of cricket, in a recent Test match between England and India, the first three days were all about the inevitable win for India. England’s batting floundered. India amassed a lead of 190. But then one English batsman turned the tables and India lost.

That is why the glorious uncertainties. Is it so just in cricket? No. It is true for work and for life itself. The only difference is that in these two spheres it is not perceived as glorious but disastrous. Uncertainty brings fear and risk. It makes people shift gears.

That means change. Change means anxiety. Change means indecision. This may be; may be not dilemma creates stress. Stress affects productivity. And so rolls the disaster coaster.

Change is inevitable. Change is recommended. Change is life; in fact it is its only constant feature. Yet, change is its most resisted, avoided, dismissed, evaded, overlooked factor in most spheres of life.

Even in organizations that are much more planned and professional, change is still the mysterious X factor that may or may not be addressed. There is a lot of talk of change, but when it comes to walking on the change highway, many stumble and fall.

Harrowing stories of mega brands like Nokia and Blackberry are often quoted as lessons of unchangeable behaviour leading to extinction.

The last four years have seen radical unprecedented change in the world that affected everyone of the 7 billion lives. The fact that the world was on standstill was stunning. The fact all businesses were locked down was shocking. The fact that people were shut in their houses was shattering.

And it went on for almost two years. From then on, putting the financial, mental and emotional pieces together has been a huge ask. That is why the world is still unwell. That is why organizations are still struggling for stability. And, that is why individuals feel scared and upset by not knowing what they should know.

All the research, all the resources and all the intelligence available on the earth could not either predict or prepare for the shocks and aftershocks of Covid. That is why change has assumed an emergency profile. The world is still in the crisis aftermath mold. Businesses are resorting to easy first-aid management tactics-cut the workforce, raise prices, become lean and mean. Such knee-jerks are fuel to more panic and uncertainty.

Highly professional organizations are trying to create some method out of the Change madness. The numbers are not great. 70% change programmes fail. One of the reasons is that they are process and not people focused. 3 D model done with empathy and healing is a more impactful solution:

1- Diagnose— Understanding the emotional health of their organization- What does the organization feel? That is the most important and most ignored question in any crisis situation. Most important because any change that is process focused and not people focused has a high potential to backfire.

Most important because humans react on feelings not on just statements. Most important because people may forget what somebody said but they never forget how somebody said it and made feel. Why is this question the most ignored by organizations? It is so, because they are too busy in the head count to bother about the heart count.

It is most ignored because in a crisis the easiest thing to do is to instruct, impose and order. It is the most ignored because understanding emotions is too time- consuming for organizations where time is money. But money is exactly the reason why this cannot be ignored. Typical example is changing the organization by installing a new system of SAP, etc.

This costs millions. The system has huge benefits. It will automate and reduce errors. It will increase output. It will enable data analysis in no time. However, it will also scare people into fears of joblessness. It will create a people Vs system hostility. It will result in disengagement and resentment.

Imagine the millions going down the drain because the company did not understand and adapt to the emotional pressure level of people. Remember blood pressure level is triggered by emotional pressure level of people. Unaddressed blood pressure levels result in brain hemorrhages.

Un-understood and un-addressed emotional pressure levels lead to corporate hemorrhages costing millions in terms of talent breakdowns and loss of productivity.

Solution— Thus the first requirement is to carry out an emotional audit of how people feel and then map out strategies based on human responses.

2- Design— Creating a culture of unpolluted communication- It is said that change is all about communication. Yes. But what type of communication? Communication left on its own is dangerous and destructive. Communication based on an emotional audit and the understanding of the stage of change is strategic and constructive. Filter- and guestimate-based communication success is as good as the toss of a coin.

There needs to be a courageous initiative to first diagnose and then design communication that will reassure the edgy rebels and sponsor the facilitators of change.

The idea is to shift the paradigms from threat to opportunity. This idea then needs to turn into a feasible execution plan that is meticulously followed and monitored. Therein lies the challenge. In a crisis how do you control the narrative? How do you create the story you want people to listen and spread?

Solution— The only way is to create an SCD (Strategic Communication Department) that is build on stakeholders from main departments.

This is the internal narration developers who, like software developers, work on the findings of the emotional health audit to design the story of hope, of triumph, of courage, of commitment, and of recognition.

3- Deliver— Co creating Change– The only chance of change being accepted with some degree of agreement is by practicing inclusive leadership. Develop Change champions at each level and in every pocket of resistance. In his book “Change, how to turn uncertainty into opportunity”, the author, Curtis Bateman, says that Change sponsor of every unit builds up a case of change.

He opens up a dialogue and starts the adaption, adoption process. As the voices speak, argue, conflict, they will reach a consensus and every voice included will be the master of change implementation.

Solution— Build a CIT (Change implementation Team) of the mix of people who oppose and embrace change.

Covid was a change nobody could foretell. However, many changes are like writings on the wall. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived. It has created ripples that are going to become storms in the work world. Fear of being replaced by humanoids is real. Has this fear been captured in organisations through emotional quotient audits? No.

Has the uncertainty that it has generated been addressed through strategic communication initiatives? Hardly has the case for AI been made to convert uncertainty into opportunity.

Well, May be. But maybe is not enough. The may be has to change to must be and will be, to emerge rather than submerge under the waves of change.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Andleeb Abbas

The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and an analyst and can be reached at [email protected]

Comments

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KU Feb 21, 2024 12:04pm
Our organizations love cult management principles where welfare or protection of human resource is the least of their concerns. This is the main factor for their poor organisational performance.
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Muhammad Feb 21, 2024 03:54pm
Another Gem Article by the Author.
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