It’s Not Personal…It’s Just Business.
By Eileen Habelow, Ph.D.
How many times have you heard that sentiment? And, how many times did it ring true to everyone in the room? My guess is – NEVER! It feels more like a scene from the movie, The Godfather, and we all know how that played out.
Lately I have worked with several groups inside companies who are experiencing big organizational changes. I am not talking about the ‘change is the new normal’ kind of change, but big organizational decisions that have an impact on lives and careers. Of course, businesses make decisions every day – and, while the decisions may or may not make sense to those on the receiving end, they are business decisions.
However, that does NOT mean they are not personal. It does NOT mean the decisions that are made by and for the business don’t impact employees personally. They do. And leaders do well when they are willing to explain the WHY behind the business decisions AND acknowledge the personal impact. If leaders are willing to acknowledge the personal impact, people are typically resourceful in response. But, if leaders ignore the personal side of the change, they not only miss an opportunity to show people they care, they also negatively impact productivity.
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), some of us are “Thinkers” first. We need the logic; we need the WHY. And, we might even be satisfied with just the information behind the change. On the other hand, some of us are “Feelers” first. We immediately think about the impact to people. As we listen, we consider how the message will land on others.
We need to know the leaders have thought through the personal side of the change. If we only hear the logic, we will be greatly dissatisfied.
“Thinkers” do FEEL and “Feelers” do THINK, but it’s a matter of where our brains go first. The best leaders know which style they favor and when there is a tough message to deliver, they consult someone who takes the other perspective before communicating!
It is tough to go through big organizational changes, and it is tough to lead people through organizational changes. But there are practical, tactical things you can do to make it a smoother transition for everyone. You can plan for the situation. You can plan the communication strategy. But, everyone will experience the change-process differently, uniquely, based on past experiences, current situation, and future goals. How in the world can a company handle that vast diversity of personal experiences?
In the end, every leader must remain open to the personal path each employee will take through the experience – with an open mind and a willingness to understand the needs of each individual in order to move through the change successfully.
It’s an organizational change, but a personal experience.