Some years ago I had a major change to manage and we needed to transform delivery of one group of services,    If the in-house team couldn’t improve performance, while reducing costs, they would be out-sourced!  The service lead had no experience of change management but she learned quickly and the whole exercise turned into a major and very public success.

At the end of it I gained a change manager and but I lost a very good service lead.  She was no longer interested in operational management and making incremental service improvements.  She wanted to do the big stuff – organizational change – and the world is short of people who can do that well!  Had she stayed, I thought she, and we, would have been frustrated!  She moved on to a sister organization very quickly and has done very well since!

Some outstandingly good change managers need the buzz of change around them!  And it is true that if they can’t find positive changes to make they may start “fixing” what doesn’t need to be fixed – negative change rather than positive – fine difference!

With the benefit of hindsight, I regret letting her go!  I know now that I could have found a better way to use her and she would have become an ever more valuable resource.  What can you do as a manger if you find yourself with someone like this on your team? You want to get the most from them, while still helping them to feel satisfied with what they are doing?

Is there something else for them to fix? Let them find it!

These kind of people (and I have to own up now, it does include me)  love the challenge of fixing  something!  Have you got something you think could be improved? Most of us have something!  Turn them loose on your organization  and ask for their recommendations.  It’s important though they understand you may not implement all their recommendations, but make sure they, and others, understand you are still interested in hearing what they have to propose!  But keep an eye on where they are! You may need to re-direct them to places they can make a difference before they waste time and energy on something that will leave them feeling frustrated.  Help them understand that their energy and insights are better applied in another area.

Make them justify

If they are interested in making a change  and you sense there is a potential benefit from their ideas, don’t just accept them off the cuff.  Make them package them, think them through to completion, and present them as coherent, well analyzed plans, rather than coffee napkin ideas.  What is the driving reason for the change and how does it fit in with your vision for the organization – is the time right? What are the costs and benefits really going to be?

Not only will you be helping them develop the skills of executing their ideas to completion  – something many rapid changers have an issue with!  But you are developing their abilities and potential for more senior management as they become a very valuable asset for your organsiation

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