The announcement is made and you immediately wonder how everything is going to get done because you have no time for change. You are too busy! There is no margin left in your schedule and no time to find more. If time is the issue and you have no time to change, it is time to revisit your priorities.
Priorities are always a problem when time is lacking. Whether you plan the schedule or simply perform the duties, priorities must be a major focus to assure there is proper time to execute change.
This is the seventh blog in my series, Building Trust and Embracing Change. We want to turn our attention to one of the main complaints in today’s business climate: Time! A lack of time is one of the most common responses expressed by people when they are facing changes that require an extra investment of time. Managing time in preparation for change is the responsibility of both leadership and employees. Everyone in the organization needs to work toward having adequate time to embrace the coming change.
People naturally gravitate toward activity and easily fill their day. There always seems to be a “to-do” list that requires attention. There is never a lack of things to do. Busyness becomes a threat to successful change. Both management and employees must honestly evaluate the quality of time that each person engages activity. Eliminating poor quality time investments is a critical step to prepare for change.
Consider the following areas that impact the quality of time.
- Busy work or pretend work: A careful and thoughtful evaluation needs to be performed to eliminate busy work. Busy work gives the appearance of productivity, but is actually non-productive. It is easy to fill a work day. Employees are experts at looking busy. Most people like to be busy and see inactivity as boredom or guilt producing. Peers interpret a co-worker’s idleness as a lack of willingness to share the load. In our work related society, quiet reflection while on the clock is seen as unproductive behavior. It is easy to fall into this trap if a person does not keep their eyes on the overall objective.
- Freedom to not be busy or avoid being a target: Another way of looking at busyness is from boss’s perspective. Some bosses simply cannot stand to see an idle employee. Many work environments simply will not tolerate it. Management often equates busyness as productivity and does not see the potential contribution of a contemplative person. Rather, they become a target for more work assignments.
- Emergencies or priorities: Remember the old desk sign, usually on display by assistants or clerical employees, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Some people strive on crisis, but run into problems when they encounter people who do not share their frantic pace. If one person likes to work with their hair on fire, let them as long as they are productive and not disruptive. For some, it is a work value. Leadership should guard against this effecting a positive work environment.
Business change of any significance usually requires time. If there is no time to change, organizations run the risk of undermining their own initiatives. Leadership will only be able to perform an honest evaluation of the quality of time being consumed when they look at the quality of the priorities.
How do you prioritize time during change management?