Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Please welcome Dr. Dewett as the newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Dr. Dewett is a leadership expert and professor at Wright State University, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and Harley nut.  Full Bio

Many people-related innovations in the workplace are adopted for the wrong reasons.  And I will hazard a guess that half of these people-related change initiatives are actually failures (defined as not living up to expectations).  Whether you are talking about the rush towards online learning, the proliferation of telecommuting, the spread of coaching, or the current mad rush to master social media – most of these efforts are misguided.  Not wrong per se, just misguided.

There are three common reasons companies adopt the latest people-related fad.  First, the fashion makers said they should adopt.  The consultancies, gurus, and pundits have spoken!  Second, the competition adopted the practice.  This is very important to know, but it also true that you and your key competitors are different organizations.  Finally, everyone believes (falsely) that change is the only constant.  Thus, to not jump on a new trend and adopt a new practice is simply wrong.

When new trends hit the horizon you should definitely explore the possibilities.  However, there are only two valid reasons to grab a seat on the latest people-related bandwagon:

• Honest fit, and
• Sufficient change capacity

It’s as simple as that.

Fit refers to a genuine understanding of the match between the tool, practice, or partner being used and the cultural fabric that defines your organization.  Sometimes lack of fit will lead to non-adoption.  At a minimum, considering fit will help you tweak the innovation to better align with your unique organization.

Likely the most important consideration is change capacity.  Every organization has a finite ability to reinvent, improve, and transform itself at any one point in time.  Driven by the need to keep up with the Joneses’ and other lackluster motivations, companies regularly exceed their change capacity.  The very best of innovations regularly fail when the company is already drowning in change.

Equally as simple, a prescription for improving your hit rate.

First, scan the organization for all large change initiatives of any kind currently underway and make an honest assessment as to whether, right now, there is any gas left in the tank.  If you implement your latest people innovation when the employee base is experiencing serious change fatigue, your odds are not good.

Second, cut the number of trends, fads, and fashions you adopt by fifty percent, adopting only those with the strongest fit.

There is some irony in our current predicament.  Not many years ago we desperately needed to adopt more people-related innovations.  We needed some coaching.  We needed OD.  We needed leadership development.  We needed all of them!  And interestingly, we have accepted these realities so thoroughly that we have reduced our capacity to effectively implement any single one of them. Take a step back, and try to improve your hit rate by taking those two easy steps above.

Take one step back, and two steps forward.

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