I had a thought-provoking conversation yesterday with someone whose new boss is charged with driving change in the organisation. The need for this change is more than anything to keep up with intensifying competitive pressure. What will this change look like? How will it be achieved? Why is it necessary?

How do you get answers to these difficult questions? How do you take people with you in this difficult journey, especially when from their perspective everything is probably fine?

My colleague was complaining that the debate around change was just adding to her already overstretched workload. “He should just concentrate on the people who aren’t performing” was her view.

‘If the under-performers raise their game, we will all be better off’ is an intuitive and common viewpoint. It was echoed, in fact, in a recent engagement survey I carried out for another firm. Perhaps the underlying hope is that then we can all carry on as we are.

In fact, if you want to raise business performance and want to achieve change, it is the high performers you must concentrate on. High performers thrive on new challenges, so to get answers to the above questions around change, they are the place to start. Moreover, if you can get them to raise the bar, then this raises standards overall.

So; message to new boss: focus your energies on the high performers first. Take them with you. Then work on the rest.

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Janice Caplan

© Janice Caplan 2019