steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the tag “development”

the challenge of change

Change is inevitable. It may be a gradual, subtle process or it may be an unexpected crisis that happens out of the blue which necessitates change – but change happens. Without change a church or organisation will stagnate and, in my view, eventually die. How we approach and manage change is therefore vitally important if we are to support and keep the confidence of the people the change effects. 

I think I’m pretty good at change. I enjoy the challenge of improving systems and processes at work, and I love seeing people develop into new areas at church. Many of the projects I’m involved in at work require a change in work practices (currently a new internal communications system). Although there can be mileage in the thinking ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ I firmly believe that you can only ‘not fix it’ for so long. At some point change will have to take place, or we essentially are going backwards.

Subtle changes are relatively easy to manage – most people may not even be aware of the changes until they look back over a period of time. Major changes are much more of a challenge. 

Most reasons for change will fit into one of three categories – and there is one key thing that best alleviates objections or aversion:

Keeping up to date.
These are primarily the more subtle, day-to-day changes that keep a church, organisation or relationship relevant and active. It’s the organic process that should (in my view) be embedded in the ethos of any organisation. Examples of this could be as simple as keeping a website up to date, improving systems, making and developing new personal contacts etc.

Development.
This category often is centred around people. Whether it’s a promotion or new job, moving into a new role at church, or a change in direction for an organisation – because the change will affect people directly it is more difficult to manage. Change in this instance can be accepted differently depending on your perspective. I hope that I would see the positive, trust the people proposing or appreciate the necessity for change – even if it doesn’t feel right at that time to me personally. I’m then in a much better place to help shape and facilitate the change. Some people, however, seem to always fight against change – just because they can.  I’m all for constructive discussion, but that’s very different from being deliberately obstructive. I think this is the hardest type of change to manage and throws up the greatest challenges.

Crisis.
Change due to crisis is dramatic and often fairly instant. Whether it’s being made redundant from work, the death of someone you love or the final breakdown in a relationship – the effects are immediate and usually painful. I know that when my dad passed away back in February, the changes I (and the rest of the family) had to come to terms with were very difficult. Paradoxically, it can be easier to cope with the challenge of change due to crisis, as you have been forced into a situation (willingly or otherwise) and have no option but to work with the implications of it.

The best tool to manage change.
In my view the single, most effective way to best manage change is good, clear communication. ‘Announcing’ a change will more often than not lead to an automatic reaction or objection.  If a change has been carefully explained, and the rationale given, it is much more likely to be accepted and people will work with you to implement those changes – something for us all to work on, no matter how good we might think we are at communicating!

Points to ponder:

  • How do I instinctively react to change? 
  • When was the last time I encouraged someone to develop into a role and help them implement their changes? 
  • Are my comments about change part of constructive discussion or deliberately obstructive?

managing quality

The latest session for my Diploma was on managing quality, which I found really interesting from a business point of view.  Having read through my notes again and written up a ‘reflection of learning’, it became clear that managing quality should not just be restricted to business.  If we, in all areas of our life, are looking to improve quality, it seems reasonable to have some way of measuring where we were, where we are, and where we want to be in a given time frame.

We were asked to define quality in three words, and as you can imagine, there were lots of suggestions from the group like, professional, efficient, experienced, knowledgeable, proficient which are all good things to strive for in business.  The course leader came up with ‘fit for purpose’ which I slightly struggle with – partly because it’s an over-used phrase which has watered down its meaning, but mainly because it doesn’t convey (to me) a willingness to improve and aim for better.  It’s a ‘does the job’ and nothing more approach – but maybe that’s just me!

After writing up my notes, I started to think of words that would describe quality in terms of a person.  Integrity, honest, reliable, dependable, encourager, faithful, all come to mind.  The challenge is, to improve and develop these qualities – and have a way of measuring those improvements. This may be done on a day by day basis, or over a period if some time.  For example, if I aim to be more encouraging, it could be possible to look back and see those people I have encouraged flourish in what they are doing.  If I aim to be more dependable, I can look back and see how many times I have let people down.  It may just be that you say to yourself ‘ I want to be more reliable today’. Most things are measurable in some way.

Having a mindset of ‘continual development’ in our work and personal life can only be a good and healthy thing.

As a christian, I do of course have a set of qualities set out for me in the Bible – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV). I have these on my work computer desktop as a continual reminder to myself!  Some of these are harder to measure as they’re not always an ‘instance’ thing, but more a way of life – which is often easier for other people to see and measure.

Certainly I know people who have obviously developed in their faith and are showing more and more of these qualities, but they don’t see it themselves sometimes as its a gradual process, and it’s much harder to be self reflective on qualities of character.

Points to ponder:

  • What are my three best qualities?
  • What other qualities could I strive to develop?
  • How will I measure these developments?
  • What effect will these developments have on other people?
This post was written, but not published the day my dad passed away.

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