I was at the post office recently to mail a package. The postal worker at the counter was friendly and made funny voices at my 6 year old daughter to make her laugh. He was the picture of good customer service.
Then, as he nearly completed the transaction to add postage to the package, he accidentally touched a button on the screen that apparently canceled the whole transaction. His demeanor changed. He made a noise of frustration and started inputting the information again.
Me, empathetically: “Push the wrong button?”
Him, exasperated: “Well, Management moved one of these buttons, just for the sake of change, so they can say they accomplished something and collect their $200,000.”
My first thought while I was standing there was, “Managers at the post office make $200,000?”
Then I thought: On the surface, this guy seems disproportionally upset about a button.
But of course, it wasn’t about the button.
Somewhere between someone else’s idea to move the button on the screen and this guy doing his job, something broke down.
And it wasn’t just that he had made a mistake while serving the customer, causing me and everyone behind me to wait longer. After a little bit of practice, that error would eventually go away.
The effect was more than that. Somewhere between the idea to implement a change and this guy changing the way he does his job, he became a victim.
Many changes happening in organizations today are more complicated: software installations, process improvements, restructurings, strategy execution, to name a few. How much more disruption would large-scale changes cause when a seemingly small change can cause a reaction like that?
Change done badly leaves victims in its wake. And it affects morale, productivity, customer service, trust in management, and ultimately profitability.
What other reason do you need for doing change well?