The Challenge of Organizational Change

April 9, 2010

Implementing organizational change is always a challenge and even the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition. Oftentimes we look at an organization’s needs and fail to look at individuals’ needs in preparing for the year ahead. In working with an organization in the southwest that serves the entertainment industry, I learned of an industry-wide change that required this company’s sales force to make significant adjustments or else miss the window of adaptation. After the organization completed most of its planning, I asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least prepared and 10 being the most prepared, how prepared are you today, compared to how prepared you need to be for the year ahead?”

After getting many defensive responses and no number, I really pushed hard for an answer. What I heard was remarkably honest and horribly frightening: “A zero, okay! A zero!”

I think the rest of us were shocked at the honesty. After that response, the organization drew up plans to begin closing this massive gap: both training that particular sales executive and his fellow coworkers while beginning to add additional team members with the knowledge and experience to support the new course.

Eight months later, when I asked how this one particular sales executive was doing against his objective, I heard the same words: “Zero, okay! Zero!” I could hardly believe it! After willingly exposing so publicly his lack of preparedness, he hadn’t acted upon the plan to address his team’s gaps.

At this point, what should the sales executive’s boss do about this situation? Does it matter if he is making or not making his budgeted goals?

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