Vol. LVI

Dear Manager,

If you were given the opportunity to establish a new set of policies for your organization, just what would you change? I’m not suggesting you need to start from the beginning. You would have the option of saving those aspects you currently find effective, and changing those that, in hindsight, need a fresh look.

I believe that few of us would choose to completely overhaul our organizations. For all of us, some of the policies and procedures we established long ago may have lost their current effectiveness and relevance. While these policies may have been right on target at their inception, it’s simply a different time and a new day. To change them now may require lengthy conversations, delayed implementation, and grandfathered commitments. No wonder it may seem easier and even more effective to live with past decisions. Policy changes can be daunting. Yet, given the opportunity…

If your management style and its policies were a house, would it be time to remodel? In the worst case, are you dealing with today’s “Pottery Barn” business climate from a foundation of orange shag carpet?

None of us has taken our last breath. We cannot suggest there is, or will be, no need to implement adjustments in our approach and how we project our personal styles. Hopefully, it will not take a personal crisis, let alone a two by four, to see the need for change. Even if you got rid of your shag carpet in the sixties, there will come a time, again and again, when change is required, so stay tuned.


Do you remember going from Jr. High to High School? You most likely looked forward to the change and the chance to project a whole new image. Unfortunately, you probably soon realized just how difficult this would be. All of your “old friends” expected you to remain who you were in the “old school.” The struggle came in not wanting to alienate the people who liked you “just the way you were,” yet wanting to be the person you’d become.

Sooner or later, that time comes for management as well. Over time, all of us create a profile that establishes how we will typically respond to a certain set of circumstances. This becomes our tag. Altering this perception, or tag, is exceedingly difficult. Over a period of years this tag becomes well entrenched with our staff. Predictability sets in. A similar tag relates to our family relationships. We will always be “mom’s boy” or our brother’s “little sister.” See how the tag works?

What happens when we know it’s time to shake things up a bit? While we, as managers, might be totally aware of the need for change, we are also well aware that changing the perceptions in the minds of those we manage is much more difficult.

Dare we try to re-create ourselves, and many would believe we had fallen off the wagon, been affected by an accidental fall, or were suffering from mid-life crisis. I have, on occasion, been accused of all the above!

Similar to the realization we may have had in High School, we cannot expect others to understand and accept when it is time to make adjustments we believe are necessary. We must also remember that the decision to remodel our management style carries with it the responsibility to remain consistent with previous values.

If changes in existing policies are part of your plan, verbal and written communication should clearly state the revisions well in advance. While there may be an initial uproar, “… that doesn’t sound like something he or she would ever do,” confidence in a manager’s principles and commitment to mutual growth will provide (at the very least) benefit of the doubt.

My own change-with-the-times approach to business has been facilitated by the gradual changes brought with new individuals, and the evolution of personalities within my organization. Times change, we change, (let’s hope,) and the personalities that make up our organizations change. These transitions allow us to keep up with the times and promote personal growth in our own management styles.

With new associates, determine areas that can be managed better than in the past. Certainly there are no personal expectations in this environment; there is no baggage. This is where you can begin to define your “new school” as compared to proceeding with your “old school.” We would all like to think that we have gotten better with age and experience.

None of us wants to transfer to a different High School in order to gain a fresh start. Once you have defined your new look, modified and integrated it with new staff members, it’s time to confidently bring it on home. Remember we’re speaking here of modifications, not an overhaul.

This is where the apprehension can come into play. There is a tendency to look around at other managers to validate the changes we might be considering. These individuals don’t have the same problems we have!?! Maybe their style can work for me. The very worst thing we can do as a manager is to try and be something we are not. All credibility and authenticity will be lost.

I relate to this in terms of tinkering with the 20% of our management style that is (or should be) “up for review.” With all the changes impacting business, I feel this is a reasonable percentage to keep on the front burner. In contrast, I have seen managers go for “the major overhaul” projecting “a whole new me” that represents a 80% transformation. What a disaster. Have confidence in your 80%, continually work on the 20%. Once these areas are complete, step up to another 20%.

I began this edition asking what changes you would make if given a fresh start. I believe you have two choices. You can move to a new management position (a new school), or you can make the adjustments right where you are (in the old school.)

Begin by writing down those areas that you feel deserves fresh consideration. In a brainstorming environment, write everything down, regardless of relevance. Once your list is complete it will become more obvious as to the priorities at hand.

Consider sitting down with your management staff and discussing your commitment to progress and possible change. Address your “receptive attitude” towards the benefits, the process, and its rewards.

Once your staff understands your sincerity, progress can then be made. Ask each of your lead members to develop their own list of topics for open discussion. There may be reasons to retain policies for reasons not obvious to others (or to you!). This process will not only open doors for adjustment in former policy, it will create an environment for positive and productive suggestions among your team. Even if only two or three changes come from the process, you have opened many doors and benefited with your team. Your blueprint is ready.

The final step is establishing a time frame for the remodeling project. You can rarely flip the switch and suggest, “this is the new deal” with your entire staff. In written or verbal communication, address the need to continue to adjust to an ever-changing business climate. While it may be easier to live in the past, all parties must embrace moving forward or accept the outdated and redundant teachings of the Old School.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM