Know Your Three Employee Types – Change Agents, Fence Sitters & Stonewallers

Poor performers hold an organization back. Organizational mediocrity will reign if the poor performers are allowed to do nothing or create disharmony and get away with it. Most companies rely on a few key performers in the right places to get the job done. Imagine what your organization could accomplish with a simple mix shift in employee type.

The three types of employees.

1. A Players – these are the Change Agents that jump in, provide leadership, have a high degree of accountability and take ownership. (Usually 5-10% of an organization) These are your go to people when you need to get things done.

2. B Players – The bulk of the work force at around 70%. During times of organizational stress or change, they are the “Fence Sitters” because they are sitting around trying to figure out if the organization is going to lean toward excellence or mediocrity. They will “get off the fence” and take ownership if management supports the A Players. They are often full of ideas and will contribute them to the organization but only if it is safe to do so.

3. C Players – Usually 10-20% of any organization. They are often referred to as “Stonewallers” because they stonewall. They are only interested in getting a paycheck and doing as little work as they can get away with. The problem with this group is if they are allowed to get by with poor performance, the B Players will see that management condones their behavior and begin to mimic them. The sooner you identify your “Stonewallers” and move them out of your organization, the sooner the B players will align themselves with the initiatives of the Change Agents.

Incremental Change Or Step Change – 8 Questions to Define Change Management & Clarify Your Approach

Incremental change or step change? It is very important to establish very early on whether or not what you are proposing can be regarded as incremental change and realistically can be accomplished within the constraints of “Business As Usual”, or whether it is a step change and needs to be handled as a specific initiative – and with the appropriate level of senior sponsorship and practical support.

The key questions are:

(1) Is the change you are proposing an incremental change that can and should be introduced as part of “Business As Usual” and that can be absorbed as part of the day-to-day running of your organisation?

(2) Or is the size, scope and complexity, priority, timescale, strategic importance of the proposed change such that it is a step change and needs to be regarded and handled as a specific initiative and requires some form of change management process?

This is extremely important as you define change management in the context of your organisation.

The reason this is so important is because people are stressed, tired and generally fed up with change initiatives. They need careful and detailed explanation of the proposed changes – why the proposed change is necessary, and the direct effects on them and the benefits to them. They need help and practical support.

As an illustration of this – I was involved with an NHS Trust recently, and contrary to the board’s initial perception of the reason for the apparent resistance and reluctance of senior clinical staff to embrace an initiative, the simple truth was that clinical staff did support the board’s intentions – but they didn’t have the time or energy to handle it.

What was needed was someone to own the initiative full-time and to “formally” recognise that this was a specific step change initiative that needed to be handled outside of hospital “business as usual”.

Here are 8 simple yet powerful questions that will help you clarify which approach to take and how to implement it successfully:

(1) How’s it going to be different when I’ve made the change?

(2) Why am I doing this – how’s it going to benefit me?

(3) How will I know it’s benefited me?

(4) Who is it going to affect and how will they react?

(5) What can I do to get them “on side”?

(6) What are the risks and issues that I’ll have to face?

(7) What steps do I take to make the changes and get the benefit?

(8) How am I going to manage all this so that it happens and I succeed?

Transformational Leadership Theory – The 4 Key Components in Leading Change & Managing Change

Transformational leadership theory is all about leadership that creates positive change in the followers whereby they take care of each other’s interests and act in the interests of the group as a whole. James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his extensive research into leadership.

“Essentially the leader’s task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel – to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action.”

In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, moral and performance of his follower group. So according to MacGregor – transformational leadership is all about values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs.

At times of organisational change, and big step change, people do feel insecure, anxious and low in energy – so in these situations and especially in these difficult times, enthusiasm and energy are infectious and inspiring.

And yet so many organisational changes fail because leaders pay attention to the changes they are facing instead of the transitions people must make to accommodate them.

In my view it is the responsibility of the director leading the change to supply an infusion of positive energy.
The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

This is often seen in military commanders and wartime political leaders. An example of this would be the way in which Lady Thatcher – as Prime Minister of the UK Government during the Falklands War in 1982 – was able to engender an enhanced feeling of British national identity amongst the UK population.

Sounds like this leadership style is ideally suited to change management, doesn’t it? However – this approach requires absolute integrity and personal behaviour that is consistent and resonant with your vision and message.

I can recall a ridiculous situation, at one UK company I was involved with, where the directors were attempting to effect a culture change of greater inter-departmental trust and communication yet still retained a separate directors dining room and specially allocated car parking places closest to the office front door!

OK here’s the important bit – how NOT to apply transformational leadership theory to change management

– Be preoccupied with power, position, politics and perks
– Stay focused on the short-term
– Be hard data oriented
– Focus on tactical issues
– Work within existing structures and systems
– Concentrate on getting the job done
– Focus processes and activities that guarantee short-term profits

Doesn’t all this just sound like a description of a typical good project manager with a task driven mentality?

And hey, I have nothing against this style of leadership and management. There is a time and place for the Attila the Hun school of leadership. I have done it many times myself and very effectively – and with no regrets.

But, this leadership style is not enough in a change management situation and particularly in the current climate.

The four components of the transformational leadership style are:

(1) Charisma or idealised influence – the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways and displays convictions and takes stands that cause followers to identify with the leader who has a clear set of values and acts as a role model for the followers.

(2) Inspirational motivation – the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appeals to and inspires the followers with optimism about future goals, and offers meaning for the current tasks in hand.

(3) Intellectual stimulation – the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, stimulates and encourages creativity in the followers – by providing a framework for followers to see how they connect [to the leader, the organisation, each other, and the goal] they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission.

(4) Personal and individual attention – the degree to which the leader attends to each individual follower’s needs and acts as a mentor or coach and gives respect to and appreciation of the individual’s contribution to the team. This fulfills and enhances each individual team members’ need for self-fulfillment, and self-worth – and in so doing inspires followers to further achievement and growth.

Transformational leadership applied in a change management context, is ideally suited to the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management and as such is key element of successful strategies for managing change.

And, to ensure that you ARE employing successful strategies for managing change – that are appropriate to your organisation – you need to know how to apply: (a) these transformational leadership skills, AND (b) how to apply the supporting programme management based processes – to ensure that you avoid the catastrophic 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives.