by: Lynda McNutt Foster
During a change management process at work, there tends to be two type of people. The thermostats and the thermometers. Knowing which one you are and how to handle the other can be helpful reaching the desired outcome you want to achieve.
Thermometers take the temperature at work and may be quick to give you their observations. It doesn’t take much effort to tell others what you think. Nope. Thermometers are the type at work who are quick to tell you why what ever new idea or innovation won’t work. Thermometers think they are helping by consistently pointing out the problems and rarely offering any solutions. They react to what is happening outside of themselves.
Thermostats are different. A thermostat sets the temperature of the room or building. Being a thermostat that sets the focus and response at work to one of positive, forward motion isn’t easy. It’s actually a pretty tough job. Thermostats have to think ahead and the good ones are strategic. Thermostats hold themselves accountable and in a leadership position, create a culture of accountability. What they do doesn’t always happen immediately so they have to be a patient. Sometimes the thermostat in the room heats things up to pull things out that need to be discussed or noticed in order to deal with the current reality of a situation and change course to a more prosperous outcome.
Thermostats don’t like sweaty conversations, they just know they are necessary.
Do you want to be a thermostat leader or a thermometer?
Here are 5 ways to be more like a thermostat:
- Have realistic expectations. You are not going to point things out that others don’t want to face, develop ideas that require your team or organization to change, or even suggest a sweaty conversation (the kind of conversation no one wants to have, is tough, but must happen to move forward) without causing some waves. An experienced business colleague of mine told me once, “Lynda, if you aren’t leaving a wake, you’re not moving forward with a speed that leads to momentum.”
- Thermostats can bring thermometers value. It’s easy for the thermostat to think that the people pushing back are just lazy or ill-informed. Perhaps. It is more true, from my experience, that they might move at a different pace then you, be focused on something you aren’t, and may be reluctant to change. Their point of view may be valuable if they feel safe enough with you to share it. It is likely that the thermostat “naysayers” actually have valuable information that you need to know to create or implement that great idea or proceed with the next innovation that is necessary for the organization to stay alive and profitable. Stop arguing and telling them and start being curious and asking open ended questions. After all, your point of view is your point of view. You have blind spots in your thinking. We all do. You need others with a completely different perspective to give you feedback so that you can execute effectively.