I was running a process improvement workshop recently and was reminded how difficult “change” can be for some people. The workshop was based on implementing the Lean 5S approach and all the staff in the office were involved. It was a very practical day with people beginning to apply the 5S principles in a few specific areas of the office.
While most people threw themselves into it and saw it as an empowering experience in which they’d been “given permission” to make changes, a few felt quite uncomfortable about it. They saw it as a change of routine and not necessarily for the better. So, although 95% were positive, those people had to work really hard to convince their less enthusiastic colleagues about the potential benefits. One person said quite simply “I don’t like change” and really didn’t want to be swept along by the energy of everyone else.
These people need to be treated with respect and made to feel their views are still important. However, it’s down to leaders initially, and colleagues, to work with these people to bring them along on the improvement journey. The direction of travel is clear and leaders need to send the message “we are going on a journey; we will help you get on board, otherwise you will get left behind”.
Interestingly, the issues of “I don’t like change” also tend to flush out other underlying performance management issues that have not previously been addressed. In a “Lean environment” there is no hiding place and managers have to deal with poor performance because it becomes so visible.
Read more on staff engagement in improvement here.