Lessons Learned as an Organization Remodeler

Part IV


In Part I of this this series on “Lessons Learned as an Organization Remodeler,” I  (1) shared with  the readers of this column the experiences which I felt qualified me to call  myself an “organization remodeler” and (2) explained that the lessons I had learned as an organizational remodeler led me to the conclusion that the keys to having an effective organization are the development of:

  • The correct organizational design,
  • A clear and compelling vision and mission,
  • A well-coached team of talented and highly motivated individuals,
  • A culture based on effective communication, collaboration, shared values and personal accountability, and
  • A strategy for developing each of the above.

and (3) discussed why organizational design is important.

In Part II, I described the various types of organizational designs and the strengths and weaknesses of each. 

In Part III, we explored “having a clear and compelling vision and mission.”

Staffing your organization with a team of talented and highly motivated individuals and creating a culture based on effective communication, collaboration, shared values and personal accountability requires:

  • Selecting and keeping team members who share your values and beliefs.

   Do not misunderstand me on this point.  I am not talking about hiring “yes” people, but people who share the same values and beliefs that I do. 

   It has been my experience that most organizations do not do a good job of this.  First of all, they do not spend enough time defining exactly what they are looking for in an employee and, secondly, they don’t ask questions that cause applicants to give answers that reveal whether an applicant is appropriate for the organization and even more importantly whether the person is appropriate for the position they are filling. 

 I think is even more of a problem for detention facilities and residential programs because they have to maintain a staff-resident   ratio.   As  a  result,  the  administrator   feels pressured to hire someone even if there was not a good candidate in the interview pool.   

This is a mistake.  I can assure you that the employee who will give you the most problems, the most grief, and be the most difficult to supervise is the one you never should have hired in the first place. You can hire easy and make managing tough or you can hire smart and manage easy. 

You cannot build a team of talented and highly motivated individuals and create a culture based on effective communication, collaboration, shared values and personal accountability if you are hiring the wrong kind of staff.  You are not being fair to your current staff when you hire people who do not share the organizations values and/or are not highly motivated.

If you don’t have a good pool of candidates, tell your staff what happened. Ask them to help with coverage until you can find a candidate who will be someone they would like to work with, who will be a team player and shares the organization’s values and philosophy. 

Notice, that not only do you want hire people who share the same values and beliefs as you do, you also want to be able to keep the employees who share your values and beliefs.  In order to do that you have to train them, develop them so that they can easily find a job somewhere else and then treat them so well they don’t want to leave.

  • Indoctrinating and socializing individuals to your way of thinking and feeling: Once you have them on board, invest in your employees. It is important in creating a culture that there be shared beliefs and values. That does not come easy, nor does it happen overnight, but it is worth what it takes to accomplish it.
  • Your behavior serving as a role model that encourages employees to identify with you and thereby internalizing your beliefs, values and assumptions.

These three steps are not easy, but whether you are the director of the agency, the supervisor of a unit, or anyone else who supervises people, these three things are the things a super supervisor does.

During my career of remodeling and changing organizations, the first thing I did when I assumed the top position in the organization, or the division for which I was responsible, was to figure out who the leaders were – not who was in a leadership position, but who actually had followers, regardless  of  what position  they held  in  the  organization.   I started working on selling those people on how we could make the organization a better place to work and how they could be a part of that.  If I could sell it to the leaders and get them on board, their followers would follow them even if they did not follow me. 

 Once I felt that I had successfully hired and/or socialized and indoctrinated enough people to the new way of thinking, I appointed a committee consisting of people who had bought into the new way of thinking and charged them with developing a new mission statement and a new vision statement for the organization which would serve as the guide posts for the organization.  Even though I love facilitating vision and mission development, I brought in an experienced facilitator to work with the group so that the vision and mission would not be seen as something I had developed.  It would be the group’s vision and mission and since it was their vision and mission, they would be more committed to selling it to the rest of the organization.

When you start remodeling or changing an organization, you will need to deal effectively with the various reactions you will get employees within the organization. 

You might find the research by the Hay Group, a worldwide human resources firm, helpful.  Their research  identified four types of employees, based upon how they adapt to change. Those four groups are the Superstars, the  Open-minders, the Skeptics and the Resisters. 

Dealing effectively with the four groups should be a part of the strategy you develop before you start remodeling process in  your  organization.

Let’s look at each group and what needs to be done in dealing with each. 

  • Superstars – This is a group of high performers who understand and buy into the organization’s mission and vision and they know what it takes to achieve it.

         What you need to do with this group is whatever it takes to keep them (e.g. recognition, rewards, compensation, the choice assignments).  In exchange, they                  help drive the change by serving as examples for the rest of the organization.

  • Open-minders – These are top performers, but they are not ready to sign on to the plan. However, they are willing to listen to the reasons they should.   You can develop their talent and increase their contributions to the group.  It’s worth the effort and cost to get them on board quickly.

         What you need to do with the Open-Minders is to make sure they understand how both they and the organization   will benefit from the changes you are                         introducing. Spend time coaching, provide formal training and development, and provide rewards for improved performance.     

  • Skeptics – This is a critical group because they’re good workers. They’ll wait and see how the changes shake out. If you identify them early and help them adjust, roughly half of this group will become Superstars.  The other half will be dead weight and become resisters.

         You need to identify the ones in the group who are worthy of keeping, then invest heavily in mentoring and coaching them.  Make sure that they clearly                           understand what is expected of them and tie their rewards to attitudes and behaviors that support the change that is being introduced.

  • Resisters – This group comprises about 15% of employees in most organizations. They are likely to be strong producers, but they worship the status quo.  They are not going to buy into the change and some will attempt to sabotage the remodeling process. Your only choice may be helping them to move on.

          What you do with this group is constantly address their inappropriate behaviors with appropriate sanctions and spend your time concentrating on developing              the other three groups.


Good luck on the remodeling project. Keep me posted about how it is going and let me know if you have any questions.


Lessons Learned as an Organization Remodeler – Part IV

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