In theory... Change

Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak

Change, as they say, is a constant. But is it also a constant headache? How many times have you had to suffer a new boss keen to ring in the changes? Why can't they just let things be, rather than try to impose their newfangled ideas on a sceptical workforce? Change, you suspect, is often for change's sake. 

But it's not always the fault of new managers. They know that their first 100 days are the most critical, and that the best way to make an impact is to visibly shake things up by hiring, firing or reorganising. But their often religious zeal for making their mark quickly frequently blinds them to the inadequacies of their so-called change initiatives. And weary staff detect those inadequacies in their new bosses' first 100 minutes.

Yet some change is good. After all, it's better to move with the times than stagnate. Just remember how M&S was doing a couple of years back - frumpy clothes and outmoded shops. The retailer's complacency (some might say arrogance) meant it clung to the past and ignored changes in the market and in customers' tastes. And which charity would want to be stuck in the past? Even voluntary organisations, away from the cut-throat fray of global business, need to keep themselves fresh.

You don't need to be a high-fiving David Brent acolyte to embrace change. A limp handshake with the forces of change is enough to keep on top of things. A charity that is open to new ideas from its employees and volunteers, whether they relate to fundraising activities or PR, will be the kind of organisation that moves with the times without fuss or commotion.

An organisational culture that welcomes new ideas from its people and doesn't resort to the door-slamming tactics of a strutting chief executive to make things happen is surely a nice place to work. And that is a far more important thing than worrying about the next big management fad. Sometimes, the reinvigorated old is better than the radical new.

- Emma De Vita is a senior section editor on Management Today.

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