Personal change and Organisational change

Change is needed. Change is hard. Change brings results.

I am taking on a big challenge this year. I am training to run the Yorkshire Marathon on 14th October. Earlier this year, I was so unready for something so far as a marathon. I was struggling to run 5k (3.11 miles) in a decent time for me. I wasn’t finding running as easy as I had in the past. When I signed up to run, I knew there was a massive challenge ahead of me in those coming months. 26.2 miles is a long way. It seems even further when you are struggling to run 3 miles!

Many large organisations have to go through big Organisational Changes too. Those changes will affect all their staff in one way or another, across all pay grades, specialisms, departments and teams. They will have to face a marathon-sized challenge too during this kind of change. That takes a lot of long hard work, with lots of ups and downs along their journey. There will be times when the light at the end of the tunnel may seem so far away or not even visible.

Change covers many areas

Change covers many areas

Change is needed

When Organisational Change happens, the changes are quite often very big changes that affect all the workforce in some way. Change is often needed to be able to tackle future challenges in the best way for the organisation. Those challenges are often down to skills, shape and money.

  • If the organisation continues as they are, they won’t have the required skills in place to meet the future needs of its customers and stakeholders.
  • If the organisation continues as they are, they are not set up shape-wise to be able to deliver what is required of them.
  • If the organisation continues as they are, they can’t afford to operate due to affordability, pricing differences or being too expensive for the market.

I knew that change was needed for me as a runner. I knew that I had to make big changes in so many areas to get to where I wanted to be. I had to develop my resilience, my endurance, my fitness, and my schedule.

I knew that I had to change my eating and drinking habits. This was going to require me to work hard at all of this! I knew that I had to review and change how I went about my running. It was pretty obvious to me that if I stayed as I was, I wouldn’t have what it took to succeed. I wouldn’t be physically fit enough to reach that finish line. I couldn’t afford to stay as I was if I wanted to reach my goal. A change was needed.

Change is hard

Let’s face it, many people who are working in an organisation going through Organisational Change would be quite happy carrying on as before doing the same thing in the same way if these changes weren’t being introduced. The enthusiasm for drastic changes on a large scale aren’t often widely spread in any organisation. One difficulty is when the workforce don’t know what the final end picture looks like.

Doing a jigsaw where you don’t have the picture as a guide is daunting and a scary prospect if you can’t even picture what the completed scene is. Being the pieces in that jigsaw makes it even more daunting and scary.

Some of the workers would accept that change is worth doing IF it can resolve some of the problems that they encounter, but as long as it doesn’t affect them much. I doubt many people would say they work in the perfect organisation. I doubt many people would believe that such an organisation exists. Seeing the benefits of change is a key thing in persuading others to come along with a leader on a journey. If we see a better end result, then we are more inclined to get involved and embrace changes.

I knew that changing from my ‘not-ready’ runner stage to the ‘marathon-ready’ stage was going to be hard. It is called a challenge for a reason and this was going to be challenging, for sure. I had been impressed with the hard work that other runner friends had put in training for Springtime marathons earlier in the year. I saw how their training was disrupted by so much bad weather including ice and snow for such prolonged periods.

I was a spectator at the Virgin Money London Marathon in April this year, on the hottest London Marathon day ever – over 30 degrees. I saw the efforts the runners were going through to achieve their goal. Many suffered that day due to the heat. A lot of runners I know ran 45-60 minutes slower than they had expected due to the conditions on the day. The journey isn’t always smooth and it isn’t always nice.

The finishing athletes had such big smiles on their faces at the end though as they knew they had achieved something worthwhile. They had reached their goal. They had earned their medal. They adapted to the change in temperature and changed how they were going to run to reach their target.

Change brings results

All organisations need to be in a place after reorganisations to be able to react quickly to the needs of the market. All organisations need to be in a place where the right skills are available for them to deliver what is expected of them by their customers, stakeholders, commissioning bodies, or owners. The organisation needs to be in the best position to be able to provide the best possible value for money for their customers and end-users.

These are big changes that are needed. Any reorganisation in large organisations is going to be difficult to go through. Often a change of culture is required. A change in attitude by some is required. A change in flexibility is required, which leads to a more open-minded view of the possibilities.

From an employee perspective, it sounds like this won’t be easy. If the organisation can do what it needs to at the end of this, it will deliver results for the customers and end users, who are the people we should be thinking of throughout this. Can the organisation deliver what they want from us? Keeping the focus on the end goal is difficult at times, that is clear. Remembering that end goal can help all in the organisation achieve this.

During my marathon training I have increased the regularity of running, changed my food and drink intake, become more resilient – mindful of when to run and when to rest. I have become focused on my end goal. I have even lost a stone in weight. I have been running at a pace that will set me up well on marathon day in York on 14th October. I have reacted well to enforced downtime and bounced back in my training plan. Running over 30 miles and more per week repeatedly is not easy. It takes over your life.

The investment now in my fitness and preparation will see me good in the future. Knowing that it will be a different me that starts that race than the ‘unready’ me that decided to enter at the start of this all shows me that if you want results, you have to change. I have run more in August this year than I did for the total of the first two and a half months of the year.  You have to change to bring in different results.

What next?

When an organisation goes through Organisational Change, it is like a marathon with lots of ups and downs ahead of them with a lot of changes being introduced. It isn’t always going to be easy. It will be worrying at times. As a runner, this really resonates with me. One thing harder than a marathon is one where there are ups and downs involved. The ups aren’t my favourite and the downs never seem as favourable.

As the workforce in an organisation going through Organisational Change, there will be changes that need the right mindset to get the results that are needed. Everyone needs to think of the end goal of being that organisation best placed to deliver its goals and to have the reputation of being the best at doing that. That is a goal worth working towards.

I have around five weeks left until my marathon. I have a lot of hard work to get to that finish line. By being committed, yet flexible in my approach, I will get to where I want to be. It will be quite a turnaround to go from my starting point three months ago to the finish line on race day. A change was needed, change is hard, but change will bring results.  If I have trained well and made the changes I sought to make, with the right support around me then I WILL achieve the goal that I have aimed for.

Reaching a goal can’t be done half-heartedly. I have found that you have to commit to improving and reaching the next step forward. I can’t settle for being comfortable running 16-18 miles, there is a lot more work to be done. I can’t rely on others to do it for me. I need to be well informed, involved and committed. That is for me with my running and for anyone in organisations going through changes. The changes I have had to make have been hard but the results will be worth it in the end. We can all be ‘fit’ for the purpose in the future.

If you would like to sponsor me in my fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-lord-online/

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