Change: Some Don’ts and Some Do’s

Filed in MUNICIPALITY by on April 29, 2015

Last month we talked about getting ready for organizational change. We focused on your readiness for change and gave you a scorecard to use with respect to that. This month we want to alert you to the fact that some things in your organization should never change (perhaps); the importance of communication in the change process; and the need to look beyond the change itself, to something more worthy of pursuit (I’ll tell you what that is later).

Some Things Should Never Change or Should They?

Whether you have them memorized or even written down somewhere, your organization has been functioning under something called “values” and at the corporate level, what we refer to as “corporate core values”. So here we remind you that to distinguish between timeless and short-lived values, we first recognize that core ideology does not arise from the pursuit of success.

A true core value is something you would adhere to even if it were a perceived disadvantage. For example, the leader of an organization may hold that his monthly pit session with all the staff at town hall was non-negotiable.

That is, no matter what change I might help him bring about, that particular practice was not going to change. Although it might hinder his municipality’s ability to meet the needs of those he calls clients once a month while he holds those meetings, and affect his performance, he is indicating he regards it as a fundamental part of “who” he, as CAO, and his organization, is all about. He may or may not be right.

It becomes critical then that we consider our “core values” before and during this process. Much more can be written on this thought, but suffice it for now, that each CAO needs to think about what is sacrosanct in his/her municipality.

Communication Is Vital to Change

Dictated change may bring about results, but not always the ones you want. As a minimum, those that need to make it work won’t often readily accept it. As a result, the change-agent (that’s you) may need to train key players in how to play their parts in the change process. We cannot assume that everyone knows how to change. We have to raise and address the critical issues involved in the change we are bringing about.

This training can be done through some identified formal training programs. But it can also be introduced, to one extent or another, through all our associated communications. Here are but a few things, you as a CAO, need to keep in mind with respect to your communications and change:

  • Know where your organization is going. Take stock of the present. Focus on what is needed. Pinpoint challenges. Search for solutions.
  • Know how you will get there. Identify your objectives, values and strategy, and show leadership. Determine when to introduce change, how to talk about it and how to gain the required support.
  • Admit that not everyone is on board. Become familiar with the various levels of commitment to change, from dedicated effort to subversion/sabotage.
  • Expect the road ahead to be bumpy. Learn how to recognize the warning signs of conflict. It can disrupt the work environment, so figure out how to handle or diffuse it.
  • Stay the course. Help your people feel secure in the change process. Share new and pertinent information along the way. Keep the team motivated. Provide the necessary tools and training to embrace change.
    Recognize that each player must move from his present comfort zone, through a transition stage, to the desired new state. Take necessary change-agent steps to facilitate this journey. Then, know how to recognize change once you have achieved it.

Develop a Change-Loving Organization

At the beginning of this article, I told you there was something more worthy of pursuit than change itself. This is it – the bringing about and the development of an organization whose people love and thrive on change.

Anything you do is for one of three reasons: you have to, ought to or want to. Change in the organization can be viewed in a similar way. If something has to change because the CAO or other senior leaders say so, it is merely tolerated. When people are reminded that those we serve also expect us to change, this tolerance becomes acceptance. And, if the value inherent in that change—for the people we want to serve and the geographical parcel we are responsible for improving – is evident, change is even embraced. That’s the higher goal.

In Summary

You have sensed the need for change and you know that now is the time to bring change about. You are ready for it. You can now start getting others ready.Next time, we will commence our look at one of the most significant high-level change tools we have available to us – Strategic Planning.

Ken Godevenos

About the Author ()

Ken Godevenos is President of Accord Consulting ( and can be reached by email at or at (416) 930.8472. He is a personal associate of the Ravenhill Group, and able to assist your municipality in your HR initiatives.

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