Is Change Management Really a Thing?

A lot of people don’t really like change. But can they be coached or managed through the change process to understand and truly appreciate its benefits in the workplace? Guest host Thad Seymour, Interim President of UCF, introduces a panel of staff members from Addition Financial to discuss their recent re-brand initiative and what they learned from undergoing a massive, company-wide change.


Featured Guests

  • Thad Seymour, Ph.D. – Interim President, University of Central Florida
  • Jordan George – Head of Leadership & Talent Development, Addition Financial
  • Christina Lehman – Marketing Manager, Addition Financial
  • Kerby Pickens – Manager of Leadership & Talent Development, Addition Financial

Episode Highlights

  • 0:39 – Introduction from UCF Interim President Thad Seymour, Ph.D.
  • 2:26 – The difficulty of change within an organization
  • 8:22 – How to implement change
  • 16:27 – What makes people resistant to change?
  • 19:34 – “How Stella Saved the Farm”
  • 29:20 – Common mistakes to avoid as a leader
  • 40:27 – Addition Financial’s experience with change
  • 46:36 – Thad Seymour’s final thoughts


Episode Transcription

Jordan George:                 We’re really excited to dive into this topic around changed management. Something that I know that you have overseen a lot in your time at UCF and certainly we’re experiencing a lot internally right now with the name change from CFE to Addition Financial. Getting ready for an acquisition in the next couple of months here. So as we think about change and how disruptive it can be, why is effective change management so difficult?

Paul Jarley:                         Well, the short answer is people don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable for them. But if you drill down into it, I think it comes down to a few things. If your change is very fundamental, a lot of people came to the organization, they were attracted to it maybe because of a specific mission or set of values or culture that you have. And if they see that change is threatening those things, they can have a very emotional reaction to that. People care deeply about those things. And they feel like they fit in an organization. And if they think that change threatens their fit with the organization, that can be a pretty traumatic experience for them.

Paul Jarley:                         Secondly, organizations develop compensation systems and other kinds of reward systems that are in place to encourage the kinds of behaviors and outcomes that they want. And people know whether they’re winning or losing under those systems. Or perhaps they’ve come to be comfortable with wherever they are kind of in the hierarchy of that system. And if those initially proposed change is going to threaten that they get pretty nervous about that. That’s their livelihood, at one level, and that can be very disconcerting. Another real problem here is generally in a change process, the costs of the change are borne first by people. They’re really well known and they’re at a minimum irritating and maximum kind of threatening to their security. The benefits are all about the future. And those are kind of fuzzy and they’re kind of unknown.

Paul Jarley:                         So unless you have a change that’s being motivated by something that’s really compelling and urgent and threatens the entire organization, and it’s just going to force a change, people tend to focus on the cost side of the change, rather than the benefit side of the change. If you’re a leader in the organization, the hardest thing I think it is for a leader to do is to get people to see a future they have yet to experience. That’s really, really difficult for people. And if they don’t see that future experience as something that’s going to benefit them personally, they’re going to resist it.

Jordan George:                 I like what you said about, we receive the cost of the change before we receive the benefits of the change up front. There’s that initial reaction of seeing what this is taking away or how this is going to make my life more difficult, or how I’m going to have to adjust, even if ultimately the outcome down the road is really going to be a positive one. I remember we went through that a couple of years ago, we went through our core system conversion and everybody who was here then just let out of collective sigh. But it was a really stressful time for a lot of people who had been here for a while, because you’re basically taking the core system that everybody operates on day in and day out, and changing it up. So your day to day is changing, even though the new system was radically better. There were a lot of people who were just really hesitant to let them go.

Paul Jarley:                         Absolutely. I think that happens a great deal. And no leader comes into it to announce a change initiative and says, “We’re going to work less now.”

Jordan George:                 I’ve yet to hear Kevin Miller say that.

Paul Jarley:                         That’s just not how that works.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, right. So Christina, you came in at a time when Dean Jarley was talking about how the culture shift changes and how people as they come into the organization may be attracted to one thing, then that’s changing. And that seems a little threatening. But you’ve come into the organization at a time when we were already changing. You came in right at the height of our brand redesign. So what was that like for you?

Christina Lehman:           I did. I just started six months ago. So I started here as CFE but entrenched in the middle of this rebrand. I’m not only learning about CFE and me, but then I’m also in the process of who’s Addition Financial and what does that mean for us as an organization because I’m learning two organizations at the same time. But there’s so many people, so many team members in our organization that have been here for so many years. So I can’t even imagine how that change must have been for them. And I think something that makes it easier is just trust. And Kevin Miller is really big on communication, and communicating, and speaking about the change, and he’s wrote so many emails and so many week and x about this, and I think that really helps the growth and understanding of why we did it.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, that’s that’s absolutely true. The first part of any change process is to explain to people why you’re doing it. And honestly, you have to explain that to them until you’re sick of hearing yourself explain that to them. And then you should explain it to them some more.

Christina Lehman:           Yes.

Paul Jarley:                         That’s just about how that is. The why is really important. And the deeper the kind of change that you’re going to make, the more compelling the why needs to be right. It’s one thing to say we’re going to change how we’re doing certain things. And people might be uncomfortable like that, like with your IT system. At least they knew that the old system might have been terrible, but they understood the rules of engagement with the old system. And now you’re changing the rules of engagement, that’s going to cause some friction. But that’s a very different thing than coming in and to people, “We’re not going to be something different than we were before.”

Kerby Pickens:                  And so, Dean Jarley, change can be seen as something disruptive or something scary. So how do we implement successful change?

Paul Jarley:                         Well, it’s a long process to be quite honest about it. And it’s one that’s fraught with a lot of difficulty, but explaining that need for change is kind of the first step. What’s the compelling reason for the change? And sometimes that coincides with a leadership change. Frankly, that happens a lot. And it can happen for two different kinds of reasons. Sometimes the board will identify a need and understand that they needed a different leader from the kind of leader that they had before in order to implement that kind of change. And it’s not uncommon in that situation for that leader to come from the outside. Sometimes they come from the inside. But it’s almost certainly the case that the new person is the opposite to the last person. I was the opposite of my predecessor and I’ve known Kevin and Joel a little bit. Yeah, not the same guy. We can all agree. They’re just not the same person. I know I interact with both of them very differently. Right.

Paul Jarley:                         If you come from the inside, you said something really important a minute or so ago. People kind of know who you are and there tends to be more of a trust factor associated with that. When you’re a leader and you come in from the outside nobody trusts you.

Christina Lehman:           Yep.

Jordan George:                 Christina goes, “Yep.”

Paul Jarley:                         Well, that was my situation. So one of the things in that situation that you have to do is you have to borrow somebody else’s trust. And the way that you do that, once you’ve got your idea for change and why it’s important, and you can articulate what that is, you have to get your top leadership team kind of aligned on. So you need to hash out any concerns that you have before you’re going to take that public. If you’re coming in from the outside, you should do an assessment of who on your leadership team people do trust. Because you know what, as soon as you say something, they’re going to go right to that person.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, that’s a great point.

Paul Jarley:                         And a lot of times they’ll run to that person because they want to test whether or not they can say something to me as the leader in that situation. So if that person isn’t on board, that’s a real problem. But even more generally, inconsistency is a killer. For those of you who are parents, how many times does a kid try to split mom and dad?

Jordan George:                 Yep.

Kerby Pickens:                  Yep.

Paul Jarley:                         You’re going to have that exact same dynamic here. That doesn’t mean everybody’s going to agree on every detail. That’s not going to happen. And you want to be really careful here because people have a tendency to tell the leader what they think the leader wants to hear and that’s a really bad situation to be in. So you kind of have to have that sweet spot where everybody understands what the goals are, and the need for change, but can be kind of flexible on how you get there. So how do you build a culture, whether it’s within a team within an organization, where people tell the leader the truth, instead of what the leader wants to hear.

Paul Jarley:                         I know you mentioned trust and trust is a big component of that. Obviously, before you get to that trust, it’s going to be really difficult for people to come up and be honest with you. But as you move through that process as a new leader coming in, and maybe Christina, you’ve experienced some of this and you want to weigh in on it, or Kerby. How do we, within our teams move beyond people telling us what we want to hear or what they think we want to hear, to really being honest with us and giving us the feedback that we need in order to make the team and the organization better? You want to reward honesty, not punish it. That’s kind of the short answer to that.

Paul Jarley:                         You can also sometimes identify by talking to your people who sort of more prone to do that anyway. If you can find out who they are putting them in public forums, or if they’re willing to do that and let others see how you react to that. That’s not a bad thing.

Jordan George:                 All right. That’s the opposite side of the coming in and borrow someone else’s trust, and then find your most vocal person and let them be the mouthpiece for the rest of the team that may be too afraid to say.

Kerby Pickens:                  But I just had an interesting point come through the chat. It’s someone asked, “But when does that sort of truth telling become where maybe you are detracting from a team or you’re starting to turn into maybe not being a team player.” And I did that in sort of air quotes. I think maybe that’s a fine line.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, that will depend on your leader a bit, but I guess I would characterize it this way. Every organization should have things that are not negotiable. If you do not sign on to those things, you just shouldn’t be here. And those tend to be the values of the organization. Generally speaking, sometimes there’s some key behaviors associated with those values too, but we can argue all day about how to get there. That’s an entirely different matter. And that’s the line I’ve always kind of used when I’m managing up and I’ve been managing down.

Kerby Pickens:                  I think that’s a really important point because we’ve kind of mentioned leaders in the scenario, but we’re not talking about maybe leaders of people, but everyone, you are a leader of yourself, of your daily work. And so, managing up is the term where you maybe see a need and using your influence in a way that is maybe outside of what you have jurisdiction over.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, absolutely.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, because every organization has key influencers in them. There’s two kinds of authority, there’s formal authority, and then there’s informal authority. And during any change process, it would be a huge mistake not to understand where the sources of informal authority are, and making sure that you’re in touch with those processes. That’s really, really key.

Jordan George:                 That was one of those things that I learned the hard way very early on in my career, was the value of those informal influencers. So if you’re listening to this today, and you’re saying well, I’m not a manager, I’m not a formal leader in the organization, I don’t really think this change management stuff really has a lot to do with me. Really evaluate the role that you have culturally on your team or within your branch within your department. A lot of you that have been here for quite a while, we’ve got more than a third of our organization that have been here 10 years or more, several people that have been here 25, 30, 35 years, think about the role that you play in swaying the opinion of those around you. And if your immediate reaction is to be critical to something others are looking to you to see what you’re going to do. You may be not indirectly influencing them on that. And likewise, if you’re really passionate and supportive of something, the same is going to be true there.

Paul Jarley:                         So a really good example of that are administrative assistants because administrative assistants know everyone, everyone interacts with them. They have really diverse network. And so yes, they can have a lot of influence on what people think.

Jordan George:                 Oh, yeah, no one gets to Kevin without going through Jeniffer. We know that-

Paul Jarley:                         Her name is Tina in my organization.

Christina Lehman:           So what might make people resistant to this change, or any change?

Paul Jarley:                         Well, I think there are a few things that come to mind. And these are very closely related I think. Change generates uncertainty. People hate uncertainty. They really, really hate it. And that uncertainty can come in a few different ways, really. They may be uncertain about the role as the role evolves, and they’re not really sure what to do. They may feel that they’re ill equipped for the tasks ahead and usually in that situation, a combination of training and clear instructions from supervisors is really, really kind of key. Sometimes people have nagging concerns about whether the plan will work or not. If they don’t see quick results, for example, they might start to doubt the plan. So it’s really, really important in any change process for the leader to have a few very simple measures that everybody agrees, will show what you’re winning or losing. They don’t have to be perfect measures because no measure is ever perfect.

Paul Jarley:                         And again, this is more of an emotional response than it is an intellectual one. So if you can find just two or three measures, I wouldn’t say more than three, that everybody agrees is an indication of whether you’re winning or losing and you can use that data to show people where you are in that process. That’s really important. I think milestones can be really important to the extent that the leader can say things like, “We’re going to engage in this process. And when we get to A, then we’re going to do B. And when we get done with B, we’re going to do C, I’ll give you an example.

Paul Jarley:                         When I first came to UCF, I fired a department chair and I shut down their PhD program. Those are two of the most disruptive things you can do to a group of people. I brought them all together, and I said, “We are going to engage in an external search for a chair, we are going to get that done in seven months. When we have that new chair, that new chair is going to sit down with all of you and create a new plan to make your PhD program more effective than it is now. We’re going to go out and hire two more senior faculty over that next year. And then we’re going to reopen your PhD program.” We did every one of those things on schedule and on time.

Jordan George:                 Just laying out a clear framework for them to know what the expectation was moving forward. And I think what you did there too, was you gave them a little bit of a sense of when normalcy would return, maybe not in the same way, because obviously, there were some things you needed to change, but you let them know clearly when they were going to get back to that world that they were so used to.

Paul Jarley:                         So another one. Sometimes the change process requires you to bring in people who are really different than the people that you have. So one of my favorite books of all time is called How Stella Saved the Firm. And How Stella Saved the Firm is a book written by two Harvard faculty members as a children’s book. And it takes you through the innovation and change process. And so, the farm is run by animals, short story. The farm is run by animals and the long time owner of the farm is sick. And his daughter becomes the head of the farm. And she recognizes pretty early that the farm in financial trouble. And it has being run by a project manager who has been there a very long time and has sort of set in his ways.

Paul Jarley:                         And so ultimately she asked for suggestions from the employees. Stella is a donkey and Stella had been on vacation in South America, and she met alpacas. And she knew a little something about the luxury fair market. So the daughter brings in alpacas, well, nobody likes the alpacas. They’re kind of smelly. They stand in the fields by themselves, no one will eat with them. Long story short, the alpacas saved the farm. By integrating people who are really different too at a very different thought process can be really fun.

Kerby Pickens:                  When I think talking to people resistant to change with our brand change and Christina you kind of deal with this externally, our members who are saying, “CFU is was just fine.”

Christina Lehman:           Yes, I help run our social media and about a week after our change, there was a lot of resistance. And I think going back to your story about Stella Saves the Farm, is the comfort zone. And the comfort zone is such a dangerous place. It’s a comfortable place, and it’s a nurturing place. But it’s a dangerous place because if you’re in your comfort zone, you’re not taking any risk, calculated risks. So that’s a scary place to be and that’s when change doesn’t happen. So in your example, they were in their little comfort zone, they’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years, and then this person comes in and wants to disrupt it. And it’s very hard to get out of that comfort zone.

Jordan George:                 But once you get out of the comfort zone, that’s when the growth occurs, that’s when you’re stretched and pushed and challenged a little bit.

Christina Lehman:           Well, the comfort zone leads to mediocrity.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, exactly.

Christina Lehman:           It’s essentially what it does.

Jordan George:                 Its complacency. It’s just, “I’m very comfortable in my cocoon here. I think I’ll stay a while.” But it’s a fine line between… I had a professor that described it as there’s really three phases, in the comfort zone, there’s discomfort, and then there’s alarm and you don’t want people in alarm. Or at least not for very long

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah, that’s right.

Jordan George:                 So discomfort is a good place to be because that that causes you to stretch some muscles that might have been under-used in the past and help you grow and change and evolve. But once you get into alarm, that’s when people start to panic, they start to worry about things like, “Will I continue to have a job? Will I be as good as I was in the past? Will somebody else come in and surpass me or replace me?” That’s not a place that we want to have people operate within at least not for a long time.

Paul Jarley:                         I agree with that. The term I like, I borrowed it from somebody, is positive restlessness. That’s [crosstalk 00:21:50].

Jordan George:                 Oh, I love that. Yeah, that’s a good one. I love that.

Christina Lehman:           I feel like, going back to our members, they felt just like Kerby was saying, “But I like the old CFE,” or they thought, “Oh, they got bought out. This Addition Financial, what’s that? I don’t know who that is.” We actually had to come out and say, “Same great credit union. We’re the same people, same values. We’re just a different name and we’ve done it three other times.” And exactly what you were saying about explain and explain again and explain again, every time I talked to a member online or on Facebook or Will can attest to this. You explain it to them, they’re like, “Oh, you’re not abandoning teachers. Oh, you’re not.” All these things that they speculated in their head we had to explain it again and again, but the explanation calm their fears and brought them to the other side.

Kerby Pickens:                  I think that’s important like letting people vent and giving them that opportunity.

Jordan George:                 Putting people on your couch is one of the things that I spend a lot of my time doing. We’re all counselors in some capacity.

Paul Jarley:                         Exactly.

Jordan George:                 Have seat tell me how you are feeling right now.

Paul Jarley:                         That’s so true.

Jordan George:                 Yeah. Well, I agree, and I had heard similar stories from the folks in the branches in the contact center, there are just some people who are never going to be happy with change, even positive change, no matter how many times you explain it to them. But I think that’s a very, very, very small minority of people. And we saw that with this change, like you were saying, Christina, once we were able to explain it to them, and they understood the why, and they understood that we weren’t taking away anything, this is only going to make things better for them. It’s only going to improve the number of people that we can serve, how we can serve them, the types of products and services that we can provide.

Jordan George:                 It was a much easier thing, but I know someone out there will be able to echo this in their own experience with their family. My own mother was upset that we changed our name. And I remember I was out to dinner with her a couple of weeks before, and I said, “Yeah, we’re getting ready for this brand branch. It’s really exciting. We’ve got a lot going on right now.” And she was like, “Yeah, I don’t really like it.” And I said, “Well, what don’t you like about it?” She goes, “Oh, no, I just really liked CFE,” I said, “Do you know what it even stands for?” She had no idea. But she knew that she liked it. And I heard that, bringing this back to UCF, with the Arena. I know there were some kids who go, “Addition Financial Arena? I don’t like that.”

Paul Jarley:                         “We’re going to win fewer games now.”

Jordan George:                 Yeah. [crosstalk 00:24:34] name the stadium.

Paul Jarley:                         Yeah.

Jordan George:                 But I was thinking to myself, I understand not everyone’s going to like the name. But was it really better or was CFE Arena really any better? At least you know what this stands for, we can be proud of that. But it is it’s an adjustment period. And particularly around the name, we talked about how you think about all the big organizations today that people know as household names. And you look and you analyze their names. Walmart, Apple, Google, Starbucks. What do those mean? What do those names… If someone just Starbucks, that’s really the one that’s… It’s what you make of it, I think. And so going back to your point, it’s how we communicate these things. It’s the influencers, it’s the buy in, it’s understanding that the changes are what we make of them and if we go in with that negative mindset of well, this is only going to hurt me, only seen those immediate costs, and not recognizing the potential long term benefit, I think we’re doing ourselves and our members a disservice.

Paul Jarley:                         I think one place we really missed in our change process going forward, looking back on it, and I still don’t have this completely worked out. Excuse me. Making sure you’re incorporating something into your orientation program for new employees is really important because they’re going to get set into the middle of this and you might think that they come kind of baggage free. And in one way that’s true. But they’re going to immediately be inserted into a conversation that you haven’t prepared them for. And you might want to think through how you do that.

Christina Lehman:           That’s a good point.

Jordan George:                 We saw a lot of that, especially during the name changes, people were coming in because we were really hiring then-

Paul Jarley:                         “I thought I applied to CFE?”

Jordan George:                 Yeah, right. Right. We were hiring…

Kerby Pickens:                  People were throwing away their credit cards and they were like, “I don’t know who [crosstalk 00:26:44] handle it.”

Jordan George:                 Yeah, “I have no idea.”

Kerby Pickens:                  “I’ve been hacked.”

Jordan George:                 Yeah, “I never applied for this card.” Yeah, it was interesting, because we did have some hiring managers that had preempted the discussion with the folks that they brought on board and said, “Hey, we’re going to be changing our name. This is coming, just FYI.” And we had others that didn’t. And that was very clear in orientation when we would start talking about Addition Financial, and you’d see two or three confused looks, sideways glances, “Am I in the wrong…” It’s like going to the wrong class on the first day of school. “Am I in the right room right now? Am I in the right place?” And that was before we changed any of our signage or anything. So it was interesting. That’s a great point.

Jordan George:                 I think when you look at all the different educational channels that as organizations we have to reach people and the different ways that we can do that, the different times in their employee lifecycle that we can do that, that new hire orientation is a really critical piece, because that’s really setting the foundation for their expectations moving forward.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, I think too, because the leadership team and the communications team generally, you’re living and breathing this change process every day. So it’s like the most relevant thing in your life. But for a lot of your people in the field, frankly, that isn’t true. And it only becomes salient when they run up against something that’s changed that they don’t like. And then suddenly the light bulb goes on and they think, “Well, why are we doing this?” And as hard as that can be, that’s when you need to have the answer for them. The fact that you told them before, it doesn’t really matter.

Kerby Pickens:                  So are there any common mistakes that we should look to avoid as leaders or even just as someone trying to influence change?

Paul Jarley:                         I think so. I actually think the biggest failure that most organizations have is they don’t recognize from the outset, that not everything is going to go well. There’s a famous quote, attributed to a number of different generals, [inaudible 00:28:51] is one of them, who was fond of saying, “The battle plan never survives contact with the enemy.” Now Mike Tyson said everybody’s got a plan until you get punched in the mouth. Yes, that’s true.

Jordan George:                 Yes.

Paul Jarley:                         So you want to go into it, kind of understanding that not everything is going to go well. And I think if you fail, that’s sort of three risks in one for you. So I honestly think it’s your biggest risk. If you go into it, particularly if the leader goes into it, thinking that they’re a genius, and have an ironclad plan, that’s just going to work well, honest assessments of progress will not occur. They will not. Because the leader is essentially telling you, they don’t really want honest assessments of progress. Things are perfectly fine from the way he sees it. Secondly, it’s going to lead to a lack of resilience among people. As soon as things get hard, they’re going to want to quit.

Paul Jarley:                         This is related to the third thing, you’re going to miss opportunities to learn and pivot. And some amount of pivoting always has to occur. So you want to think about those sorts of things up front. Now, you’re never going to be able to come up with a document that says, “Here’s all of the ways things can go off the rails.”

Christina Lehman:           That’d be great, you don’t have that?

Paul Jarley:                         Well, back to my introduction. I have 8,500 students. If there are cracks there, they are like water, they’re going to find those cracks, wherever they are. And so, it isn’t that you’re going to be able to do all of that up front, but you will reduce the scope of the number of times you’re surprised. And you can start to think through at least what your options are because the place you’re most likely to make the worst decision is when you think you’re in that crisis situation, because of something you didn’t anticipate. That’s a really bad spot to be. In those spots, generally people don’t see all of the alternatives that they have in front of them, and rarely pick the best ones.

Paul Jarley:                         So if you have a good system in place, I think a lot of times people think communication is about the leader standing up and explaining the why over and over again, and that’s important. But the other side of communication, is making sure that the person up front is actually listening to what people are telling them as part of that process, And not dismissing them, but understanding that those are real issues that somehow you got to get out in front of.

Christina Lehman:           I found that really great quote that I think would fit well there. It says, “I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. But I’m going to tell you it’s worth it. So join me.” And the leader needs to lead by example. And I think if they’re transparent, and they say, “This isn’t going to be easy, but together, we’re better together. Trust me, trust my team. Let’s do this.” And I think the culture here, which is so wonderful, that I didn’t experience in the past, is that we all fail forward. It’s okay, we’re going to make mistakes. Let’s learn from those mistakes and then let’s move forward. So we don’t have those critical [inaudible 00:32:41] that we’re not prepared for. We can always come back reflect and let’s keep going. That’s also scary. I don’t like making mistakes. Fear almost, is crippling to me.

Jordan George:                 It’s paralyzing for some people.

Christina Lehman:           Like, feeling is crippling to me. So that’s a huge thing to have that trust in an organization. It’s like, “Okay, I’m going to tell a member this.” So I hope that what I’m saying someone’s going to back me up, because I’m putting my faith in what they told me.

Jordan George:                 Yeah.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, and that’s my understanding, your culture is really important.

Christina Lehman:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Jarley:                         There are written rules and regulations, but the culture is about how the organization and the people in it really respond.

Christina Lehman:           Yes.

Paul Jarley:                         And what’s really important to them and what’s not really important to them. I remember being at a round table one day where someone said, “Culture eats strategies’ lunch.” That’s true. The second mistake that most people make is they don’t understand how the change is going to interact with the culture that they have, not the culture that they want. That’s a different thing. Any experienced leader worries the most about their culture. It’s the single most important thing.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, absolutely.

Kerby Pickens:                  And I think though, talking about how our cultural interacts with some of our strategies or things that we have coming down the pipeline, our enterprise board is a great tool for that, that forecasting, that planning of looking at, “Oh, goodness, here’s a big system change coming up within the next quarter. How have I prepared my people? Have I been communicating along the way, so it’s not two weeks before we go live and all of a sudden, Hey, everybody, the system we all know and love while we’re switching in a week. So get ready.” But really, as a leader, looking at that enterprise board and seeing how do these projects, how do these things that are happening interact with my area, and are going to impact my people’s day to day and planning for that. And setting people up for success ahead of time, instead of waiting for maybe that one email to say, “Okay, it’s in two weeks. Starts in a week.”

Jordan George:                 I think that’s part of any large organization. There’s so many things going on that it’s easy to get pigeonholed into just thinking about what your next day or week is going to look like and not understanding the broader perspective. And the enterprise board has a great way that we try to overcome that through communication. I know that our team and several other teams have done the same thing have adopted a version of that, where we do a weekly stand up meeting, 15, 20 minutes every Monday morning, which is just a quick update on all of our projects. So not something long and drawn out and protracted because I know it’s difficult to get entire teams together and you don’t want to sit down at the table, lets go around the table for two hours talking about updates, but just a quick 15, 20 minutes so that everyone knows what’s going on and his understanding of the other priorities.

Christina Lehman:           Well, you know what that provides? Is accountability.

Jordan George:                 Well, you know what, Christina? It’s like you read my mind because I saw the last bullet on the slide up here and I wanted to talk to the Dean about that, that lack of accountability. Because I think we see that sometimes within the organization, that is a huge killer to productivity, to trust, to the positive culture that I think leaders are trying to build. How do you overcome that lack of accountability at an individual or team level?

Paul Jarley:                         Well, ultimately it comes down to people being willing to make difficult choices when they have to make them.

Jordan George:                 Yep, I agree.

Paul Jarley:                         Those are never fun.

Jordan George:                 Nope.

Paul Jarley:                         Never ever, ever [crosstalk 00:36:38].

Jordan George:                 Yeah, speaking from experience.

Paul Jarley:                         Although sometimes I will tell you this, though. I have been in situations, too more often than not, that you have a person who’s underperforming or perhaps doesn’t fit. They know that.

Jordan George:                 Well, I think we’re doing a disservice not just to ourselves, but to the team, to the organization, and to that individual to allow them to continue to struggle in an environment that’s not right for them.

Paul Jarley:                         Well, yeah, there’s a few steps there too. The first one is fair notice and I think it’s the most important one. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where someone can come to me who were terminated. And they say to me, “I did not know I was having a problem.”

Jordan George:                 Absolutely. Yeah.

Paul Jarley:                         And frankly, there have been some situations where that was true. So, regular, honest performance evaluations, followed up by things like needs for changes in behavior or training or those sorts of things, if it’s going to get to termination, you want that to be the last step in a process where you’re at least convinced that you’ve done what you’ve could to make that person successful. But also I think you’ll find any change process, particularly the more fundamental it is, some people will opt out, you should expect some turnover. That’s going to happen in a process like this. And honestly, that’s not a bad thing. I mean, you want to understand why that turnover is occurring. But if the turnover is this is an organization that’s changed, and I’m no longer committed to the goals or values of that organization, yes, then you should move on.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, I always say we spend too much time at work to be miserable.

Paul Jarley:                         Oh, absolutely.

Jordan George:                 So if we as individuals are not feeling fulfilled and valued and aligned with where the organization is going, then don’t stay there.

Paul Jarley:                         Incredibly miserable place to be.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, right. And that’s not the kind of place that you want to go. I mean, I know that not everyone’s going to look forward to Monday mornings, and I’m realistic about that, but at the same time, you shouldn’t be dreading it either. You shouldn’t be just, “Urgh, I can’t do it. I can’t get out of bed today, I can’t go in it.” We need to be more honest about those types of things because that’s a that’s a difficult conversation to have is helping people recognize when this is no longer the right fit, which is after taking all the other steps that you talked about. Having a deeper understanding, having discussions to understand what’s going on, making sure that the communication is clear so that people can make an informed decision about what’s right for them and for their family and further their stage in life.

Paul Jarley:                         Treating everybody like they’re an adult sometimes goes a long way.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, imagine that. I wanted to touch on one of the things that you had up here that I really liked. So that second to last bullet point. And I’ll admit, I think this is an area I won’t say for the organization but that certainly I wish I had done a better job with right after the brand change, which was, and Christina, and Kerby, and Valerie, everyone else in the room that was here knows what a tremendous undertaking that was. Even just replacing the signage, there were like 6000 signs or so. John Thomas told me at one point. Updating all the materials, just every time there was a policy, a procedure, a job aid, a reference, a training course. And that’s just one piece of it, but everyone within the organization really was stretched especially the months immediately leading up to that brand change and immediately following because of the member reaction

Jordan George:                 One thing that I wish I had done differently was take a little bit more time to celebrate what a tremendous win that was for us and for the organization instead of so quickly moving on to, “All right, that’s done on to the next thing.” That’s kind of the pace that we move at, but it’s so important to recognize those things.

Paul Jarley:                         So I have a chief excitement officer. That’s part of her role. Those of you who are laughing know who she is. But no, I think it’s a mistake not to do that. Again, it doesn’t need to be a parade. No, I’m not suggesting that. But, a little appreciation goes a long way. I think we overlooked at some times, particularly, I think early in the change process, highlighting the early adopters and holding them up as role models for the kind of people that you want to have in your organization, can really help out. But I do want to go to the one you skipped over.

Jordan George:                 Yeah.

Paul Jarley:                         Okay. And that’s the failure to align reward structures with your new [inaudible 00:41:50].

Jordan George:                 Sure.

Paul Jarley:                         So, the most famous article in human resource management was written by a general and it was called Rewarding A While Hoping for B. And he asked two simple questions. How did soldiers get to go home from World War Two? Anybody know? Well, the answer was when we won the war. How did soldiers get to go home from Vietnam? When they had accumulated enough points to rotate back to the States. Which of those two wars did we win? His point being in Vietnam, we were hoping for victory, but we were awarded survival.

Jordan George:                 Yeah.

Paul Jarley:                         That’s what we got. And that’s a very dramatic example obviously.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, I know. I like that. It’s good.

Paul Jarley:                         But all organizations do this all the time. So if you’re going to go through a change process, it’s really important that you review your reward structures and I’m just not talking about compensation. There are all kinds of reward structure. And to ask the question, are these still the things that we want to reward? Are there new things we want to reward and how are we going to do that? Because your reward structures are the most powerful thing that you have, people respond to incentives. So you should think really carefully about what your incentives are because you’re going to get them.

Jordan George:                 I think a really good point is not just thinking about that as compensation. We so often do, we think of it as some sort of bonus or sales commission or something like that. It’s not just about the compensation. It can be how we reward people with time off or the flexibility.

Christina Lehman:           Or not even that, like what’s wrong with… One of my favorite things I receive are handwritten letters. I just want to feel seen. I want to feel that somebody saw that I did something that bettered the organization. And because I wasn’t feeling that way, I came here. So good people you want to stay in your organization will leave if they do not feel valued, or they see other people being rewarded for their bad behavior.

Jordan George:                 Oh, that’s the worst.

Paul Jarley:                         Different people want different things sometimes. Before I came to Orlando, I was in Las Vegas. I’ve been staying at UNLV for five years. My assistant at you and UNLV had a list of seven names on them, of which she could not schedule an appointment with more than two of them on the same day with me. And these were all high achievers. They were not problem employees at all. But their need for recognition and affirmation could be emotionally exhausting. Literally, I couldn’t do more than two. What was so striking about that is for most faculty, they’re the opposite. The last thing they want to do is see the Dean. So if I want to make their day a good day, I just don’t talk to them.

Jordan George:                 Just stay away.

Paul Jarley:                         But for these seven people, they wanted me to know in excruciating detail, what it was they were doing, and they wanted affirmation from me, even though at times I would have to tell them an hour and 35 minutes in, “I really love you and what you’re doing, but I’m not going to remember any of these details. And when somebody calls me and asks me about them, I’ll call you. Honestly, that’s what I’ll do.” But no, I think that’s really important, is understanding people work for different reasons. They really do. I mean, everybody got to eat, I’m quite sure. But yeah, understanding people and kind of how they work and what they really respond to, yeah, that’s an important part.

Jordan George:                 Well, and you can have a job at a lot of places.

Paul Jarley:                         Yes.

Jordan George:                 You talked about, everyone’s got to eat, well you can choose where you get your paycheck to put food on your table.

Paul Jarley:                         Absolutely.

Jordan George:                 There’s lots of options, we have to do more than just provide a paycheck for people. And I think understanding as a leader, what your team values as individuals is really critical, even as fellow team members understanding how your peer is on the team, like to be rewarded and recognized because again, it could just be something as simple as saying, “Hey, thanks. I really appreciate what you did today,” or a handwritten note. I know so many people when you walk around this building, and I know it happens out in the branches as well have little trinkets and things that they’ve collected over the years that they’ve received from people, received from members, that from a monetary sense have no value.

Jordan George:                 But from a pride and respect and kind of as a reflection of the things that they’ve done and accomplished and how they have helped somebody else, have a measurable value that they keep out in displayed that somebody has given them just because it’s a reminder that they made a difference, to Christina’s point, that they were seeing that they were valued and that they were appreciated for what they did. So even understanding that not just from the leader’s perspective, but as an individual on a team, and how you might be able to do some of that for those around you.

Paul Jarley:                         It’s impossible to have a shared set of goals and objectives if people don’t know and understand each other.

Jordan George:                 Yeah, I love it. Awesome. Well thank you Dean Jarley so much for being here. Thank you Christina, Valerie, and of course as always, Kerby it’s great to have you here.

Kerby Pickens:                  Thank you, Jordan.

Paul Jarley:                         And thanks to Addition for being such a great partner.

Jordan George:                 Thank you. Thank you.


Listen to all episodes of “Is This Really a Thing?” at