Make us your home page
Instagram
Career Q&A | By Liz Reyer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

In workplace, approach institutional change with care

Q: I just landed a new job as a database developer, for which I'm grateful. I'm finding, though, that security policies here verge on being pathologically paranoid. I'm not a cowboy, and I do believe in Internet and software security; however, some policies are so restrictive that it will be hard to do my job efficiently. Any thoughts on challenging the more ridiculous ones?

A: No matter how good your points are, if you go in with words like "ridiculous," you'll ensure a reputation as a cowboy. Instead, tread lightly at first, understand the background on existing policies, create your case for change and look for allies.

The inner game

Starting a new job requires a lot of tolerance. As a new employee, you need to manage change in general, along with any insecurity you may feel about your competence. Let's face it, when you walk in new, there's a lot you can't possibly know. Taking time before forming judgments is essential to successful integration. Likewise, your new team needs to show tolerance of your learning curve, and needs to be open to ideas from outside.

To help everyone, try to be in observer mode at first. You'll end up with more influence later, and will be able to make a difference more quickly because you won't be doing damage control after a rough start.

How do you do this? It's simple. Approach each new aspect with the question, "What's good about this way of doing things?" You'll have plenty of time to explore the followup question of "how could we do things better?"

The outer game

As a new person, you have the opportunity to ask obvious questions. Take advantage of this to get to know people and learn about the past experiences that have led to current security policies. Some type of crisis may have occurred, or there may have been a pattern of malfeasance. By understanding this, you can pose solutions that give others confidence that the same problems won't recur.

Talking to others will also help you understand if a policy really is a problem or if it's just a different way of doing business. If your peers who have been around awhile don't see a problem, you might reconsider your resistance. However, if there is general agreement that there's an issue, even if people are resigned to it, it becomes a better candidate for action.

Don't try to take on everything at once. Take an honest look at the impact of these policies, and select one place to focus. Choose one that might be less scary to modify (from a management perspective), and that will have a good effect for you.

Develop a case for the realistic risks and costs of the current restrictive policies. Document the effect on your productivity, along with the impact of less stringent standards. Do research on standards in similar companies to help build confidence. Determine who may be willing to be a champion for changes, and lay out your point of view.

The last word

As you advocate for changes, help your cause by remaining positive and focused on solutions.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.

In workplace, approach institutional change with care 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.

  2. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims

    Banking

    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  3. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  4. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  5. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]