Can everything be put on the table?

By Interim Manager

As interim managers, we are often hired for change initiatives. There are consultants who guide the change, but operationally, someone needs to steer the ship (or change its course, depending on how you look at it).

Highberg Interim Management

Can everything be put on the table? As interim managers, we are often hired for change initiatives. There are consultants who guide the change, but operationally, someone needs to steer the ship (or change its course, depending on how you look at it). A neutral individual who keeps the operation on track, passionately navigates the organization through change, and is willing to make tough decisions. A recipe for a successful change, you might say. No pain, no gain.

But is that really the case? That's not our experience. Well, partly, of course. But change often hurts. Because with change, you have to let go of the old, and grief accompanies loss. It's just one of life's laws. How long the pain lasts, you can sometimes influence, but the fact that it will hurt, well, there's really nothing we can do about that. So, when you embark on a change, ask yourself how strong you stand when things really start to rub. Maintaining your integrity is crucial to us! And remember: gentle surgeons make foul wounds.

The unwritten rules

I recently had a great example again. We were making good progress with the change, but there was a point that seemed to be avoided throughout the entire process. It was an unwritten rule that should not be challenged. An issue that nobody wanted to take responsibility for. Implicitly, it fell on my desk. "You solve it without discussing it because it's painful," they said.

So, I decided it was time to "stir the pot." It was very quiet at the table for a while when I brought up the issue. "Yes, but this will really face a lot of resistance," was the eventual response. "We really shouldn't want this." "Yes, it will hurt, but not addressing it will hurt even more," I replied. "It might not be easy, but in my experience, when you make subjects discussable, it provides a lot of room. Insights emerge that make it easier to make a different choice. What are you worried about?" I asked. Ultimately, it became clear what assumptions were underlying this behavior and what role the director played in it. It was a tense moment, but he took responsibility.

Double results

"Okay," he said, "let's go for it. Let's address this issue together. How do we initiate the discussion on this topic?" "Leave that to me," I said with a smile. "I'll send you a proposal." Not long after that, I initiated the discussion. The organization groaned and creaked, but insight came, and so did the change. Fortunately, the fruits of the change could be harvested almost immediately. That immediately eased the pain. It wouldn't be long before they'd wonder how they had always done it one way and not the other. The director himself was ultimately fully on board. He even applied some of the insights to his personal life, he confided in me during a drink. His relationship was now running much smoother too. I smiled. These are the better side effects of our work.

Would you also like to have a conversation with interim professionals who go beyond filling a job description? Are you ready for someone who provides solutions for structural changes? Then invite us for an informal meeting.

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