Change to the positive
How organisations can and should embrace and encourage challengers
29 September 2014
In order to survive the next decade organisations, managers, teams and individuals will need to see change as the one constant in their work. Smart organisations will require their people to cause and promote change rather than having to respond to it after the fact. At present in many organisations to raise questions is to be considered a critic, negative and even a troublemaker. However if we are to succeed in future we will need to stimulate these ‘challengers’ and make safe spaces for them to raise issues, consider alternatives and contest the very nature of ‘the way we do things here’.
There are many ways in which challengers can be embraced and even encouraged. From small steps such as setting up in-house blogs or other forums ensuring that anyone can (without personal risk) discuss contentious issues positively; to arranging meetings where challengers identify and share tasks together looking always to produce something useable as a result.
Whether or not such options are implemented the challengers will continue to question and -without constructive channelling - may become increasingly negative. So do not close ranks on your challengers and treat them as complainers who take up valuable time and undermine plans, rather engage them to be drivers within your organisation who can promote and hopefully accelerate positive change.
For more information about successfully managing challengers you may find this article - Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism - and sites like www.rebelsatwork.com helpful. Both distinguish between constructive and destructive forces and encourage organisations to release their positive ‘rebels’ to ‘challenge assumptions and create new ways forward.’
Look around in your organisation. Are you ahead of the next wave of development? Riding it? Or will you be struggling to swim in the aftermath? How you manage your ‘rebels’ may be the deciding factor in what you find.