Yesterday's post focused on the shift from command and control to coordinate and cultivate. Making change ain't easy for any of us, so it's important to make certain that you really want to make the change. Jeff Pfeffer has a recent post on not making change unless it's really necessary. Coordinate and cultivate easily passes the smell test for change, and to a great degree many of my clients have been moving in that direction for some time. They've been working at it in bits and pieces, the small wins approach, which gives them a far better batting average rather than trying to hit a home run in one fell swoop.
Then too, one of the drivers of this change is that my conversations reveal that 90% of subordinates really like it. It gives them more responsibility, but it also gives them opportunities to grow and add to their toolkit. Plainly, in some companies if you don't grow and add to your competency base, you'll be on the streets.
Still, the old command and control exerts a powerful influence on our thinking. It creeps up in the oddest ways. Watch how often when a problem pops up in an organization the solution is to centralize control so it won't happen again. I've watched the push and pull between managers and the boss over a single termination go on for months. "Who's going to make this decision? Do we really need to make it? What'll happen if . . .?" The smart senior exec still kept pushing the decision down, so the managers would learn how to make the right call. But it was caught in the old command and control world for a long time.
Why is change so difficult?
My white paper on that subject reveals 10 reasons why it's difficult to make change. But the biggest may well be that we try to make the change without unfreezing the old behaviors. Kurt Lewin, the grandfather of change theory, found that unfreezing must take place before change can occur. So when you decide to make a change and unfreeze an old practice, begin by asking yourself questions: What are the weaknesses of this practice? Why does it really need to change? What has changed to make this practice ineffective? What will happen if I continue to use the old practice?
Tom Malone describes coordinate and cultivate this way: A cultivation approach recognizes that sometimes you need to control people carefully, sometimes you need to just nudge them in the right direction, and sometimes you need to accept and encourage the direction they're already moving in--even if it isn't the precise direction you'd prefer.
Bottom line: Every manager will need to learn to coach. Better companies are making coaching a key skill for all managers and executives.
What experience have you had with coordinate and cultivate?