ASK YOUR CAREER COACH: A Transformational Change For The New Year

Q. I’ve been at my job in human resources handling recruitment and selection and training for over 10 years. I started out as a supervisor and am still a supervisor. But I have no complaints: my salary has grown five times over because my company has become more profitable as the years go by. However, I feel a sense of “ennui” or boredom in plain language. To somehow ease this feeling, while working, I multi-task by playing games in Facebook or sending “tweets” in Twitter. Another New Year is coming and I wonder what New Year’s resolution should I make to get out of this comfortable rut?

A. Your e-mail reminds me of Garfield, the comfortably fat cat who loves to eat and laze around. You’ve been comfortable in your job for such a long time that ironically, you find yourself in a “rut.” This 2010, take the opportunity to make some New Year’s resolutions that can really shake you up and rekindle the “fire” of enthusiasm within.

I advise you not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions which are, according to, as follows: spending more time with family and friends, fitting in fitness, taming the bulge, quitting smoking, enjoying life more, quitting drinking, getting out of debt, learning something new, helping others and getting organized. These will not really whack you out of your complacency. What you need is something earthshaking. In other words, an extreme makeover.

I would also guess that your state of mind and body is reflective of the state of your organization which is apparently enjoying the fruits of its financial success. Perhaps your organization is also becoming too comfortable and complacent in its success and becoming less competitive in attitude. I am reminded of many organizations that rested on their laurels at the peak of their success unmindful of the coming storms of new competition and global recession and that are now extinct.

Since I am teaching Organization Development this semester, many OD models are running in my head right now that may help you, and your organization, in your dilemmas. Based on one particular change model, it seems to me that you and your organization need an appropriate “intervention” strategy focusing on “transformational” change.

In 1992, George H Litwin and W Warner Burke developed what is now known as the Burke-Litwin Causal Model of Organizational Performance and Change (B-L Model). In this model, they listed 12 organizational variables which are external environment, mission and strategy, leadership, organizational culture, structure, management practices, systems, work unit climate, task requirements and individual skills, motivation, individual needs and values, and individual and organizational performance.

Burke and Litwin postulated that OD interventions directed towards structure, management practices and systems (policies & procedures) result in what they call first order change or transactional change while those directed towards mission and strategy, leadership, and organization culture result in second order change or transformational change.

Applying this model to your situation, you can undergo personal transformation by finding meaning in your life. Re-examine your purpose and mission and how you intend to go about fulfilling this purpose. You also need to look at your values, attitudes and habits and align these to your new directions.

Your organization can also undergo organizational transformation by revisiting its mission and strategy, re-assessing its leadership and re-evaluating its corporate culture to anticipate future changes in the environment.

While you or your organization may not see or feel the need to tinker with a successful situation now, change will surely kick you out of your comfort zone. Change will happen, whether we like it or not. It’s much better to lead and manage change than to stagger behind it. Now is the best time to begin.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in Management Systems, January 2010 issue.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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