Regardless of your industry, the work you do or the tools you use, I think we can make certain assumptions about the important issue of change.
- Change will happen.
- Change will be difficult.
- Change needs to be managed.
The change might be positive, or it may be negative. Change may happen suddenly, or it may creep up on us over time. Change may positively evolve on its own if left alone, but probably it won’t.
I remember working at a publishing company during the early days of the internet. We tried to decide the best resolution to use to post images, or how we could use a website to sell a product. There were some colleagues on our teams who were embracing the promise of change brought by the internet, and there were others who were still using carbon paper and inter-office manila memo envelopes every day. Email meant nothing to them, and they used a computer only when forced. New processes and procedures were ignored, and the coffee station was often a place of complaints and commiseration.
I still have vivid memories of a time I was asked to teach a colleague how to use a new program. I sat with her, and told her to point her mouse at a specific point on the screen, so she physically lifted up her mouse in the air and held the device up to that point on the screen. Change will happen, but it may not be easy.
I was thinking about those days of change recently when someone at my current job said to me, “Larry, you’re dogged.” Dogged…really? Was that a compliment, or was it a criticism? Honestly, I think it was a little bit of both. I processed the comment.
The non-profit organization where I work now in 2019 is not at all like the publishing company where I worked in 1997. We are all used to the internet by now. We email each other multiple times a day, and we are prepared to digitally share information and collaborate in a variety of ways.
When we find ourselves in a period of change, I think being dogged (or maybe persistent is a better word?) can be a good thing. Change is big. Change can mean we are changing the tools we use, the way we get a task done, the way we collaborate with others, or the way we store and retrieve information. Change is rarely about just one thing, and it is never just about the work. It is about our feelings, our habits and our behavior. So many different things have to work, and work together, for anything to work at all. So yes, I am dogged…I am persistent.
I am the Director of Network Engagement and Collaboration where I work, and in that role I introduce new tools and innovative ways to improve workflows, sometimes to workflows where the work is flowing just fine, at least or now. Let’s remember…change will happen, that change will be difficult, and probably the change will need to be managed in order to succeed.
When change is happening, I am persistent. I feel I need to be if I want the change to take hold. I remind people why the change is happening, and how they can effectively incorporate that change into the work they do.
When change is difficult, I am persistent. I feel I need to be if I want people to have an easier time with the change. I sit with people and talk through their concerns, and do my best to help them understand new tools and procedures.
When change needs to be managed, I am persistent. I feel I need to be if I want the the new procedures to become a part of how we work. I try to help people understand why they should embrace this change, and how they can change their habits to make the change easier. I work hard to incorporate the change into our work, and to make people feel good about the change.
These things don’t happen quickly or easily, so yes, I am dogged. I am persistent. Through my persistence I remain positive and constructive. I understand that people are approaching these changes with preconceptions, misconceptions and life experiences that often inform how they may respond.
I am often asked to remind people about where to post, how to work and how to share information, and I realize that this can quickly become bothersome and annoying to my colleagues and friends. I would much prefer to work with them to create new things, to help create positive change and impact in our work. I don’t want to only be the voice of “do this, and don’t do that. Share here, and don’t email there. Work this way, and not that way.”
Maybe there is a halfway point. Maybe we can find a place where people will remind themselves there are other ways to work, and I am there to help them explore the tools and techniques available to us. Maybe together we can be dogged to always be curious, to always be working harder, and to always be working together to be more effective in our work.
It’s okay. Be dogged.