By William J. Murray
President & Co-Founder
Eagle Learning Center
Dickens could probably have written the description of the
last half of this century as he did about the late 1700's:
"It was the
best of times. It
was the worst of times.”
Fabulous Fifties ended with the Tumultuous Sixties which
gave way to the Soaring Seventies. The Eighties came in
like a bull and ended like a wounded bear. According to
several studies, 75% of American businesses are
experiencing either little growth, no growth, or an actual
decline in sales and marketshare. Customers seem to be
less loyal than ever before and retaining business is
harder than ever. The Nineties have become what Alvin
Tofler predicted in his book, Future Shock, over twenty-five years ago. There is nothing that is
constant. Everything is changing. Continuing success in
business has become elusive to most.
companies realize that they have to change. The
marketplace is overwhelmed with phrases like downsizing, rightsizing, reengineering, self-managed teams, etc. The
Wall Street Journal reported that most of the
companies that are claiming to be using one or more of
those strategies are merely laying a good percentage of
their people off and really doing nothing more than
expecting the people who stay to do more work.
must do more. They can begin by helping their people get
through the negative emotions of change. This is important
because it is the attitude
of the work force that has the greatest effect on their
business results. Leaders must recognize that it is the
rank and file worker who has the knowledge to make things
better in changing times.
organizations are reporting that 64% their quality
programs or customer satisfaction programs are failing
miserably. In 11%, the quality programs are working (they
are meeting ISO 9000 or other quality standards), but they
are still not
experiencing the leap in marketshare that they wanted.
What is the problem? They
are not considering the negative impact of The Anxiety
view of all this, let’s look at the attitudes of
management and the work cultures of organizations and
their effect on the energy of a company.
attitudes of any organization are cyclical. These
attitudes tend to follow a particular order and are
continually rotating as change itself affects the
organization. Consider this diagram.
organization can be in an attitude of contentment. Results
are happening. Things are going well. Because the work
units are so positive, most of what is attempted is
accomplished. This is a wonderful time. Success is
repeated and things continually get better. You extend
large budgets, the employees have good benefits and good
salaries, while profits are fantastic.
Denial— This attitude is
analogous to a conversation between two dinosaurs. One
says, "We're rulers of the earth.
Isn't it great?"
The other answers, "Yeah, nothing can touch
us. (Pause) Isn't it getting a little cold?"
Management of many organizations today have this attitude.
They believe that they are rulers
of the earth and they believe that nothing is wrong.
Yet, they hear their salespeople saying things like: "I'm
hearing from our customers that they are not getting
delivery fast enough." "We've got to change
that." "Our competition is coming out with a new
line. We'd better keep up." "The economy is
hurting our place in the market." "We need to
change the way we . . ." Those may not be the
exact words, but they're close. And, in the corners of
their minds is a whisper: "Isn't
it getting a little cold?" And, it is. Reality is
that delivery isn't fast enough, competition is more
aggressive, the economy is hurting, or whatever. The
simple truth is that they are in trouble and denying it.
Alvin Tofler, author of Future
Shock, have been telling us for over twenty-five years
that the pace of change would only accelerate. The
organization’s ability to grow and change depends on its
ability to help its people deal with the anxiety of
Anxiety Factor. When people are anxious their
performance fails. The work unit fails to solve problems,
to meet requests, to meet quotas, etc. During change,
anxiety is high. Most of us want to be known as people who
accept and deal with change—who accept and deal with
present reality. In fact, many of us will set about
proving that we welcome change. For some, this challenge
is too great. It goes against too many beliefs they have
learned in the past. Changes provide new situations and
new tests where weaknesses may reveal themselves or past
beliefs may be proven wrong. Many try to hold on to the
old ways and do not see change as an opportunity. For
them, change equals
threat. Their effectiveness takes a nose dive.
Renewal is the attitude for those organizations who deal
with the Anxiety Factor and begin to grow and change. They
are still anxious, but the anxiety contains a positive
view of the future. There is a commitment and cry by
everyone in the organization for innovation, for doing
things differently. Albert Einstein said, "The
significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same
level of thinking we were at when we created them."
A new level of thinking is happening. The organization has
chosen to break free of the anxiety of change and embrace
has typically thought in the past that they could use
their positional power to get the results that they
wanted. Research shows, however, that there is only a .2
correlation that if management dictates the results that
they want that those results happen. Just a short while
ago, prevailing management thought was that by simply
going to the downsized work unit and demanding, “You do
this. You document this. You treat the customer better.
You improve this,” the results they wanted would happen.
They were wrong.
there is something that does make the results happen. In
fact, there is a .55 to a .60 correlation, a very high
correlation, that if management will just help create a
more positive work culture, increased quality and customer
satisfaction will be the result. Of course, this adds up
to increased results.
is the culture that drives results. Management has less
impact on any employee than the culture does. Performance is culture linked.
research is clear—the more positive the culture, the
better and more consistent are the results.
at Eagle Learning Center have discovered from our research
that 75% of companies are experiencing the Anxiety Factor.
Our expertise is to work with organizations so that, in a
very short period of time, people’s anxiety is reduced
so that the organization can move quickly towards Renewal.
is a Chinese allegory that concerns one being in a dark
cave with a tiger. You can barely see the tiger, but the
tiger must be faced. The only way out of the darkness into
the sunlight is to face the tiger. The tiger is fear, and
the story challenges us to face whatever fear (anxiety) we
must in order to live and grow -- to become what is
must face the fear! What you are capable of becoming is
the result of facing the fear. Despite The Anxiety Factor, this
is a time for optimism. T. George Harris, psychologist
said, "Social movements are not caused by failure and
frustration, but spring from rising strength, 'a snake of
hope'. Even prison riots start when the food is getting
better, not worse." Getting through anxiety,
as painful as it seems, is a predictor of a positive
future, not of a negative one.
By facing The Anxiety Factor, you can
create this “snake of hope” and inspire people to
charge past the tiger.
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