You too can survive any change program

You like your job and you know you are good at it.  All you long for is one thing : to keep on working without interruptions.  These days this simple request has turned into a utopian dream for most of us.  Any organisation that wants to be taken seriously, feels a regular urge to announce important change programs.  That’s why ‘lean’ got followed up by ‘nwow’ and now you are getting ready to go for ‘agile’.

Don’t stress ! With these golden tips, you too can survive any change program.

Be quick to smell the rat.

The first place to sniff about it the smoker’s corner.  Or, if this is not up to your liking, hover around the coffee machine. Pay attention to trendy terminology such as ‘VUCA’, ‘disruptive’, ‘start up’ or ‘innovation’. Needless to say, only the English terminology will do. 

Your suspicion level should go up if an improvisation theatre group is called in to perform during one of those large employee meetings.  And if top management walks in with a crazy hat or starts to play-back, trouble is guaranteed.  Do they sing for real ? Run and hide in the basement.

Do not waste energy in the opposition.

Do not spread your opposition in a transparant way. This is likely to damage your peace of mind and - what’s worse - your career.  Save your comments to the above-mentioned coffee or smoker’s corner and don’t be too generous with your negativity. Here are some samples of effective comments to smother all forms of enthusiasm : 

1. What a great idea ! I support it wholeheartedly but what shall we do when …
2. Maybe this sort of thing works in company X but here ?
3. It’s not as novel as all that. Remember the time when …
4. Ah ! So that’s where the money goes. And in the meantime…
5. As far as I’m concerned, they can start tomorrow. But first I think we should …

If you’re a seasoned employee, it behoves to refer to past change programs that failed in a spectacular manner.  A safer bet still is to give a disastrous example with a former employer. Beware of exaggeration. You don’t want to get the reputation of the cynic.  After all, that's why you have a union representative.

Show that - despite everything - you keep on working diligently. 

Almost any big transformation program comes with its fair share of info sessions, workshops and team coachings.  Subscribe to all of them but only attend to those sessions where you are certain your manager will attend.  That’s the moment to ask two questions : one to demonstrate that you understand why the change is necessary and one to show that you have a positive-critical mindset.

For those sessions that you don’t show up to, you always have a valid excuse: an important file needed handing in or a customer emergency prevented you to come to the session. 

Time is on your side

Time is always on your side.  The longer a change program lasts, the bigger the chance that it will be put to an end prematurely.  In that case, show hat you are disappointed, the same way you would be saddened by unforeseen bad weather.

If, however the change program happens to be an unexpected success, keep calm.  It only takes a couple of years - and if you are lucky after the first change of power - for all these changes to be undone. Or you can propose the old ways as a brand-new idea : ‘ What if we’d …’. But be careful, before you know, you might end up in the change management team. And that, my friend, is an entirely different story.


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