“Elect” to Make Change For The Better

John Whitaker Change Management, John Whitaker

Hey there FOT’ers, Whitaker here, being decidedly un-hip. You know what IS “hip” right now? The emotionally wrought, hyperbolic, “end of the world” post. President-Elect Donald Trump had a remarkable night, people are connecting the dots to Nostradamus, quoting Revelations, and Alec Baldwin is house-shopping in France (again.) Such drama, such hypocrisy, and such non-productive behavior. Exactly as it would have been if the result were reversed…face it, when we call ourselves agents of “change,” what we really are advocating is “change my way.”

Let me go ahead and get the affiliation out now – I lean “Right,” but I’ve never voted a straight party ticket, and in this particular election, I abstained altogether. The reason is simple; if asked to pick between bin Laden and Satan, I’d sit that one out and sleep well at night. By the way, this doesn’t make me particularly unique – 43% of registered voters chose not to participate. But, even in a sh**-show, there’s a winner, so Hail to The Donald?

It’s not that easy, is it? The initial reaction is not encouraging…Gallup Poll shows 32% of adult supporters of Hillary Clinton will refuse to accept Donald Trump as their “legitimate President.”

What we have here, folks, is an exercise in Change Management. And it’s actually going exactly as you would expect. What does that mean? Significant change follows a script.

  • The Freakout! ~ You’re allowed a moment; as a matter of fact, it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and get that out of your system early on. People who blindly accept that “all change is good” are usually blowing smoke up your chimney. It’s not necessarily “good,” it’s just reality. An election as emotionally charged as this one is akin to a hostile takeover in the corporate world. Instead of focusing on the event itself, we immediately begin to project the negative consequences that will surely befall us in the future. After watching mud-slinging attack ads for 12 months, you begin to relate to the slanderous and inflammatory messages you hear.  When your side loses, good gawd almighty, it’s like personal affront. You’d almost think the media planned it that way. Nah.
  • The Resistance Begins! ~ When estimating active opposition to change, 20-25% is a pretty safe bet. This offsets the 20-25% out in front, pushing for the initiative to succeed. For either side to succeed, they need to capture the hearts and minds of the “middle.” The 50% who are observing, evaluating, and ultimately deciding the success or failure of a corporate merger (or change in a political regime) are being wooed by either side of the spectrum. The losing side often fights harder, longer, and with a more “spirited” message. Psychologist (and Nobel Prize winner) Dr. Daniel Kahneman explained why this might be; you see, as good as it feels to “win,” the psychological impact of “losing” carries twice the punch. As happy as the winning side might be, the losing side is twice as hurt – it’s devastating to the point of rebellion.
  • Informal Communication Takes Hold ~ What is needed in a time like this is calm, factual messaging. Instead, we have innuendo. Guesses. Theories. Rumors. Gossip. And yes, charges  of conspiracyLogic and reason are easily replaced by fear and mistrust when uncertainty prevails. And of course there are blogs, posts, articles, and tweets to share every incendiary comment. Yay internet.

But here’s the kicker….

  • As Always, Change Happens Anyway ~ When you’re a leader, acting like a “company man” might be the toughest role to play; finding that line between corporate shill and self-respect. But we do what we do to make the change a success. It happens professionally, and now it’s happening to us personally. At some point, one “side” of the aisle needs to decide that the greater good is more important than their respective ideology. If nothing else, this election should show us one thing – if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are the “answer,” what exactly was our question?