Tag Archives: ic blog

The psychology of workplace change

Stephanie Davies, Laughology Founder and CEO, takes the hot seat, blogging about the psychology of change at work.

Change is a word that can cause all kinds of emotional responses. Some people view change as negative, while others see it as positive. But now, even the way change happens is changing, which means there’s a lot to get our heads around.

These days, many modern businesses treat change as a continuum, rather than a finite process. The fast pace of the world means that many organisations position transformation as continuous improvement, especially those that are constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game and future-proof themselves.

Ways of working, lifestyles and services are developing all the time, forcing organisations to evolve with them. For example, office spaces and set working hours will be a thing of the past before we know it and communicating at work will be more about social media platforms and instant messaging.

We will all need to become learning ninjas, constantly updating our skills to match new systems and beat the competition.

By helping employees to grasp this concept and improving their resilience, adaptive thinking, flexibility and growth mindset, you can ensure they are future fit. Businesses need people who can think and adapt quickly and effortlessly and who will and feel positive about doing so.

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

At Laughology we would advise you to:

1. Support your workforce in becoming future fit.
– Be clear about why continuous development is important – what does it mean for the organisation, why is it important for the business and how will it help in future?
– Share ideas, inspire with vision and engage people with their own development
– Lead the way. You should make sure managers have the knowledge, people skills and coaching skills to successfully evolve their teams
– Create the right culture. A culture of continual learning and trust built through honest positive, open communication will impact how people adapt to new ideas
– Help employees to understand where you are now and what needs to happen to get you to the next stage; this will make change easier to stomach. Small, manageable and well-communicated steps
will help people feel more in control and happy about development.

2. Become a growth mindset business.
Organisations that welcome new ideas and experience are the best performers. Too often, businesses can stifle experimentation due to fear of failure and because it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone. But it’s a changing world. Invite new ideas and ensure that resources and encouragement are available for your people to continuously learn and develop.

3. Pause, assess and celebrate.
Encouraging your team to take a deep dive into the process behind its own successes and failures will maximise learning and improve performance by instigating employee-driven change . We work in such fast-paced environments that it’s easy to finish one project and move straight onto the next without pausing to ask what worked well and what could be done differently next time.

4. Reinforce growth mindset practices through communications.
To have a true growth mindset, an organisation needs to constantly highlight and reinforce growth mindset practices. Try encouraging your people to share their favourite recent examples of their growth mindset with their teams, and share growth mindset success stories through your channels at every opportunity, across the whole organisation.

Guest blog: Leave communications to the communicators

Andrew Hubbard, internal communications manager at Network Rail, asks: “Are we tough enough to challenge the boss?”

“This is signed off so it’s good to go.”

Oh, that’s all fine then. We’ll put that into the machine. Wait a minute… Who wrote this? Who signed it off? And what even is it?

We’ve all been there. Some copy is handed to us for an email, intranet news item or magazine feature and we’re told it’s ready for the masses. But is it?

When it comes to the game of ‘the boss wants it done’, I think all of us have been guilty of going into delivery mode. I know I have. But do we challenge our business leaders enough? After all, we’re paid to do be trusted advisors.

If a colleague from any other area of the business came and said: “Hey, I have an email that needs to go out to everyone in the business right away from the head of procurement. She’s signed it off so it’s good to go.” The first thing we would do is ask what they were trying to get people to do and work with them to achieve just that.

The end result would likely be a different message altogether, delivered in an alternative format or channel.

Do we always do the same when the boss comes with and wants something delivered? And even if we do push back, do they always listen? The boss-knows-best mentality seldom leads to effective communications. It’s on us as communicators to stand firm, advise, provide alternatives and help leaders see that a different way of delivering their all-important messages will pay dividends.

Andrew says: when challenging the boss…

  • Start with why: Why are we looking to say this? Why now? Why this audience? These questions can often lead to the boss rethinking things themselves.
  • Metrics always win: Data beats ideas. Help them see your way of thinking with numbers. It’s difficult to argue with facts and figures. As American engineer W. Edwards Deming once said: “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”
  • Provide alternatives: Nobody likes to be told “no”, not least the boss. Have examples of the other options available to them and turn the “no” into a “yes, but what about doing it this way?” Chances are they will like your idea better anyway.




Devil’s advocate: Why do we bother with employee engagement surveys?

In well-meaning organisations across the UK, an enormous and comprehensive survey has become an annual ritual.

It consumes time and money and produces volumes of data, consuming more time and, by implication, money. But does anything useful come of it?

People will say “yes” and point to good things they believe have improved their organisation. They’ll say this justifies the investment. But I beg to differ. Too often the return is marginal.

At worst, annual engagement surveys have been allowed to become an indulgent distraction – wasting hours and cash, producing misleading results, and focusing energies in the wrong direction. They invite complaints, place unimportant issues on the agenda, lead us down the wrong path and distract us from doing things that matter.

It’s a broad and damning condemnation. But if I’m wrong, how do we explain that, despite a massive and increasing investment in IC and engagement, productivity is getting worse and worse?

The gap between our Olympic superstate and the rest of the civilised world is greater than at any time since records began. For every hour Herman the German works, he produces 36 per cent more than his British equivalent.

The French are 30 per cent more productive. And the Italians are 10 per cent ahead of us. Hardly surprising that, like for like, the average German earns £43,449 each year – while the Brit struggles along on £27,199.

I am in no way suggesting that IC and employee engagement are a waste of time. I believe passionately that they rank among the most powerful tools in the armoury of a business. But put to the wrong use, powerful tools can be ineffective or dangerous.

My case is this: The full-hit annual engagement survey is relatively ineffective. It can waste time and money – and can lead us to focus on issues that have only a minor impact on the organisations we serve or the people they employ.

We’re a young, naïve profession and now might be a good time to consider our course. I suggest a three-pronged strategy for the future direction of IC:

1: More leading, less listening

Farmers achieve porky pigs through instinct and experience – the scales merely confirm what they already know. In IC we should listen by all means, but not let it get in the way of leading. No truly great leader governs according to the findings of focus groups. They draw
on their own expertise, experience and instinct to set the agenda.

2: Pulse check, not routine medical 

Make measurement meaningful – timely and succinct. We make choices, express opinions and change our minds by the nanosecond. Now matters. So we should listen little and often and tackle big issues as they arise. We have the tools, accessible via the mobile in our pockets. Pulse checks are infinitely more valuable than cumbersome surveys and reams of analysis.

3: Stop navel-gazing and start doing real stuff

Liberate your business, your board and yourself from the bureaucratic burden of the all-encompassing annual survey. There may be a few gems in there, but as a whole it risk being an enormous distraction. So scrap it. Let leaders lead – and invest the hours, money and energy on doing things that will actually help make your business a happier, more successful place to be.