I have long been an advocate and give credence to the assertion there is value in embracing change. After a quarter-century working in technology, an industry synonymous with upheaval, I have crossed paths with varying walks of life and professional traits at all levels of work center operations. I’d like to take away the correlation between technology and transformation and focus on embracing change as a culture to establish a larger, sustainable pattern of organizational success.
Disrupting Status Quo
On a personal level, it was a general willingness to disrupt my own status quo that eventually opened doors into leadership. Enlisting in the Air Force to learn a skill. Embracing life in Europe as a young Airman after barely stepping foot outside of East Texas growing up. Accepting new opportunities and moving from coast to coast. Throwing caution to the wind as I like to say.
I never feared the professional unknown. Change can be difficult, but I always operated under the assumption the good would outweigh the bad. It was a desire to experience what the world had to offer that led to my personal view on leveraging change as a conduit to professional success.
Principle of Change
John Maxwell promotes the 25-50-25 Principle of Change. Broken down, he states when change is presented 25% of the people will support you, 50% will be on the fence and the remaining 25% will be abrasive to the idea. As a general view of all organizations, I believe that to be an accurate assessment holistically.
Conversely, experience has taught me that an overlying trepidation in the work center can be mitigated by putting proactive mindset employees in positions of leadership. The culture of embracing change begins to evolve when it funnels seamlessly down the ranks.
Change vs Trepidation
As a people manager, it’s not difficult to identify who’s on board with moving the needle forward. You can hear it in an employee’s words, and you can see it in their actions. There is a difference between trepidation with a pending action versus the debilitating fear of what may happen. As an executive in my organization, it is my responsibility to ensure staff are on board and ready to proceed with impactful actions.
There is value to having a talented staff member that will put the brakes on a project to ensure all the bases are covered. I appreciate employees that will raise their hand to offer reasoning as to why something will or will not work.
It’s a balancing act between your gung-ho staffers and the let’s make sure we think this thing through employees. Both are needed, and both bring value. Trepidation is good to a certain extent, but you must decipher the overlying willingness versus unwillingness to act.
Need For Change Culture
As most of my peers in local government can attest, we are not staffed to allow for an endless stream of resource hours to poke holes into why a project will or will not work. Fundamentally smaller municipal governments run lean organizationally and do more with less.
At the time of this writing, my own organization, Seguin IT, has nine full-time IT staffers supporting on average 650 helpdesk tickets per month and managing twenty-five projects in various stages around the city. Some projects are driven by IT, while others are supporting the technology elements of a larger effort.
Decisiveness, confidence and accuracy are paramount to success when you spin a lot of plates simultaneously. We simply do not possess the full complement of resources to drag our feet on needed actions.
That’s where embracing change comes into play. Removing doubt from the equation and knowing you are going to figure out how to get something done is an asset for any organization. Willingness versus unwillingness. Getting after it as I like to say.
It is a culture that can be established. Each successful effort builds upon the previous until the general feeling becomes there isn’t anything that can’t be figured out together.
In my world, I call that Country IT, defined as simplified elegance in the technology profession. The moxie derived from a career of getting after it and finding the way. Country IT is the manner as to how my organization conducts its business, and one of the fundamental ways we accomplish so much through limited resources. You earn it, and my staff today is all about it. They are truly a talented and impressive bunch.
Embracing change to the extent success is constantly derived from initiatives can lead to a positive change in overlying work center culture. Once established, that same culture of success can extend to other areas.
The work center vibe will be positive, employees will know they are personally responsible for impactful change. What they do matters. That feeling resonates and can manifest in much greater ways. Pride in one’s work. Belief in abilities. Knowing you can do anything you set your mind to. Confidence.
Ultimately, success breeds success. It can emanate from your organization, become the expectation. Knowing you can accomplish a large effort versus thinking it. Belief and trust in the services your organization delivers. A shift in mindset to embracing change can be the conduit to growth and greater success.
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Shane “El Jefe” McDaniel is the first Director of Information Technology for the city of Seguin, Texas, with more than 24 years of experience across multiple IT disciplines. He began his technology career in 1996 through an enlistment in the Air Force supporting military intelligence, subsequently transitioning to NSA, NRO, private industry and municipal government technology operations. Shane is the proprietor and champion of Country IT, running the countryexec.com website promoting personal and professional development for future leaders. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.