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Para Handy - Change Manager

June 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 238

There is a discipline in Management called Change Management.

The original intent of this discipline appears to have been to employ an expert to guide a business through a tricky transition to the next level of performance or profitability.

Today this original intent seems lost and Change Managers seem now to be the hit men of the corporate world, retained by management to make the changes that they want to happen in a workforce who, because they are individuals, will always resist doing what they are told to do.

Managers on the other hand appear to believe that they have a divine mission that gives them the right to tell other people what they should do.

In the past this worked because the workforce had no options, they had to do what their employer said because if they did not they would no longer be employed and with no other means of support they and their families might starve.

Today's managers can no longer afford to alienate their workforces by trying to force them to do what they want because the workforce is free to find other work.

The cost of losing people is huge, as is the cost of finding replacements, and it is largely incurred because managers cannot imagine any other way to get people to do what they want other than to create conditions that make it so difficult for them that they are forced to comply.

When that happens change is given lip service and the minute management stop focussing on it the workforce will ignore it and revert, or leave.

Para Handy is the skipper of a puffer, "The Vital Spark," running out of the Clyde in Scotland and is the central character in a series of tales written by Neil Munroe in the first half of the last century.

The tales are all hugely entertaining but are generally so well observed that we can take them for more than their pure entertainment value.

One of these tales, "Para Handy's Apprentice," is about Alick, the son of the owner of the Vital Spark, who is desperate to throw up his schoolbooks and run away to sea.

His father, in a very traditional reaction, takes him to Para Handy and instructs him to take him away on the Vital Spark and, "Give it him stiff, as long as he doesn't break a leg on him or fall over the side, see that he's put off the notion of being a sailor."

Anyone who is aware of traditional management practice will recognise that the owner thinks that he is being very clever by applying pressure to make his son do what he wants.

Anyone who has read these stories will know that Para Handy's reaction will not be conventional but will work based on his understanding that applied pressure is rarely effective.

In this case Para Handy knows that by trying to make life difficult for the boy, by trying to make him stay at school, it will only strengthen his resolve to run away to sea.

Para Handy agrees to take the boy away and spends the rest of the trip keeping him clean, feeding him boiled eggs, and making him take all the rest that he needs so that he can tackle the school work that he has sent down to the boat.

By the end of the trip Alick declares "If this is being a sailor I'd sooner be in Sunday School!" and deserts the ship the minute it docks back in the Clyde.

Para Handy explains to the owner " If I was wantin to keep that boy at the sailin I would have taken the ropes-end to him, and he would be a sailor just to spite me."

What Para Handy knew nearly a hundred years ago is just as true today.

When we try to make people do something by applying pressure they will always resist.

I am not suggesting that we can all achieve Para Handy's level of sagacity, but a good first step would be to recognise the pointlessness of trying to force other people to submit to what we want them to do.

Peter A Hunter

If you have ever experienced or learnt something which you then knew was instinctively right - you will never have forgotten it. Peter Hunter learned something years ago which, regrettably, most of us have still yet to learn. When we do - once we have understood the simplicity of 'Breaking the Mould' - it will transform our lives forever!

Source: EzineArticles
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