Symbols

“Everything means something.”  – William Bridges.

During change and transition everything gets magnified. Small actions take on large meanings. Often unexpected meanings! Being aware of this can help you reinforce the new normal with small, yet symbolic, decisions and actions.

I was a part of a large organizational transition that included moving from a top down to a more participative leadership style. A few months into the transition I noticed our CEO was saying “all leaders from me out to our front-line supervisors,” instead of the typical phrase “down to the supervisors.” A small change in language by our CEO reinforced her commitment to the new leadership model.

Other symbolic actions that you can take to reinforce the new behaviors and actions of your new normal include:

  • who gets invited to meetings
  • assignment or location of parking spaces
  • use of job titles
  • inclusion in phone directories
  • the look or design of name badges
  • the colors of labor contracts (MnSCU readers have experienced this one!)
  • company logos

What opportunities do you have to symbolize the new culture of a change you are leading?

Todd Thorsgaard

 

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