If they can make The Hobbit into a trilogy, then I can make a two-part post about ‘changes’ while
feeling morally superior to Hollywood.
A number of people have approached me on the topic of changes. What’s going to be different when I’m gone? What’s going to be done differently? Who is going to do what? Etc. All of the uncertainty that arises when management staffing changes.
I’ve told everyone some version of the same thing: there will be changes.
There’s no point in saying otherwise. The truth is that if I did not leave here, there would still be changes. There are always changes. There always have been changes since the beginning of time and always someone has kicked and dragged and clawed and screamed trying to hang on to ‘the old way.’ And change always happens anyway.
I don’t expect that my about-to-be-former workplace will run the same when I’m not here. It will take time for people to adjust, find their equilibrium, and adjust their style to get the results they want from the resources that they have. And it won’t be the same.
If things were the same after I left, then that would mean that I have had zero impact – or that the rest of the management team here have all been and will remain passive. I know that I’ve had an impact; and it has been a positive one. I feel good about that. Also, to assume that I am the only motive force in the management team here seems to be a version of Holmberg’s Mistake, and just as wrongly implied as the original.
I know that the people who will be running the show are good and talented people who want to do well. And they will. “First place, first loser” – I got that culture from the folks who are going to remain at the post, holding away the dark that is mediocrity.
However, it won’t be my show any more. So I won’t give people false consolation and tell them that nothing will change. That would be less than honest.
When we were getting ready to open and I went through the process of interviewing to hire almost thirty warehouse workers for the facility, I repeated the same thing to everyone and I’ve continued to beat that same drum the whole time that we’ve been here: I want to work with adults.
It wouldn’t seem to be a lot to ask for, but you could be surprised how often grown people don’t expect to act and be treated like adults. I certainly have been (surprised) often enough. Enough that I have made it a meme within our building culture by making people repeat it until I heard it everywhere.
Of course, not everyone understands what being an adult is. Some seem to think that it involves behaving in a responsible manner most of the time. And it does. But that leaves a lot out. If I had to sum up ‘behaving like an adult’ in as few words as possible I’d say that it involves being responsible when no one is looking.
Somewhere I read, and I’m paraphrasing from memory here so I’m sure I’m not quoting perfectly,
“Being treated like an adult:
You’re fucking up. This is how you fix it. Now fix it.
Being treated like a kid:
You’re trying really hard. Results don’t matter because it’s your effort that counts. Keep trying.”
I have had to tell grown men that various disciplinary actions were going to stand as issued when they came to me with complaints that they were trying really hard when they broke procedure and committed service level errors. Those moments were initially disappointing, personally. (After all of my talk about adult behavior how could someone not understand? Didn’t they know what I meant, what I felt when I told them all those things? Hello, Egocentricity – haven’t seen you in like 3 seconds – it’s been forever.)
However, these discussions did provide me with opportunity to explain why and allow those individuals to experience what it is like to be treated like a responsible adult. Salutary for some.
Responsible adults don’t always like what they are given, but they deal with it.
So, as easy as it would be to pat people on the shoulder and tell them that there will be no changes, I’m treating them like adults and telling them that there will indeed be change, that no, I will not be its master, and that they work for good people and should not fear change but instead involve themselves in it.
As pious as I may come off when talking about this – I think that’s the adult way to do it.