THE SELF-CHANGE MODEL AND TEAMWORK

by Terry Goodwin [1]

 

An early issue of Nurturing Potential examined the application of the processes of the  Self-Change Model [2] in various areas, including that of business.  It occurred to me that knowledge of the Stages of Change themselves would have been an effective tool for me to have used in my role as team leader of a commercial group some years ago, and I came up with the following:

 

PRECONTEMPLATION

 

As team leader I am unaware of a loss of impetus in the team; a sort of lethargy.  Unaware too that any excitement that had earlier been generated in team meetings is no longer apparent.  Board meetings have become bored meetings.  A sort of lethargy has developed in the team, yet nobody appears to believe in a need for change.

 

When I do get a faint suspicion that team performance is not as effective as it might be - as it has been - I may put this down to factors outside my - or the team's - control.  So a sort of "do not disturb" sign hangs on my mental wall, and may occasionally be slightly stirred by a minor tremor: perhaps an uncomfortable question from a superior, or a particularly apathetic or unsatisfactory response from a subordinate.

 

CONTEMPLATION

 

Slowly I become aware that all is not as it could be - as it needs to be - in the realm of corporate activity.  I feel more and more uncomfortable with our performance, or lack of it.  I have a nagging suspicion that something needs to change . . . but what?  Do I need to offer my team members greater inducements to achieve better results?  Or have I already given them too much, thereby removing any motivation to more active performance?

 

I start to think seriously about this.  I consider ways and means, tasks and exercises, that may be used to spotlight those areas of diminished effort, or diminishing returns.

 

PREPARATION

 

I have succeeded in highlighting some of the areas where change needs to occur.  I face up to the necessity of doing something about the situation, and recognise that unless something is done (unless I do something) things will not improve.  Action cannot be deferred; decisions cannot be avoided.

 

Nevertheless I'm still uncertain about how and where things need to be done.  I explore various options and try to establish whether a solution can be found "in-house", or whether we have to go to an outside consultant.  I am quite reluctant to adopt the latter course, as I have always considered this to be the ultimate proof of my own failure to perform my duties satisfactorily.

 

ACTION

 

I have made a list of all the measures I can think of for rectifying the situation and now have to consider which of them will be most effective; or whether the situation calls for a combination of several.  Amongst them (consigned to the background) is the employment of an outside consultancy.  I do not want to admit to myself that perhaps I, the team leader, have failed in some way to continue inspiring my team members.  Perhaps their apathy has resulted from their perception of a similar lethargy in myself.

 

The first step, I decide, is to discuss the situation frankly and openly with the team.  I have to admit my own part in allowing the situation to develop and persist, place before the team the list of possible measures that I have devised, and ask for feedback.  It may be that the philosophy of the corporation, or our own department's raison d'Ítre, may have changed over the years and I, or they, have failed to notice to adjust to it.  Maybe a new training programme needs to be initiated.  Maybe I am personally in need of re-training or refreshing.

 

MAINTENANCE

 

Whatever may have been decided as a result of the team discussions, a programme of detailed and specific tasks must be established in order to reinforce the action that has been agreed upon.  Regular meetings must be held, where individual members of the team report back on the progress of the tasks they have been allotted, are considered, and discussed constructively by the remainder of the team.  Negative feedback is to be abjured as is any other tactic that might lead to a relapse and a return to the previously unacceptable situation. As team leader I am an equal part of this process.  Unless I can be seen to have accepted my own responsibility for any failure to perform in the past, I cannot hope to retain the support and respect of my team.

 

 A system of efficiency rewards might be considered as well as a new way of reporting progress and results to both subordinate staff and superiors.  Goals must be established and regularly reviewed.

 

COMMENT

 

It may seem to the reader that the conclusions reached in the Contemplation and Preparation stages, and promulgated in the Action and Maintenance stages, might simply have been adopted from the start, without any need to go through the five Stages of Change.  But this is to overlook the importance and benefit of using the right interventions, encouragement  and actions, at the most appropriate time, for most effective results.  As was so rightly pointed out in the original article, [at an early stage] "persuasion is the worst strategy.  Empathy, listening, concentration on the positive effects of change is the best strategy."  [Contemplation] "is a good stage for giving information".  And finally: "Using the self-change model enables a far more effective treatment by moving people (or organisations) from one stage to the next rather than trying to move them directly to Action". 

 

 

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[1] Terry was senior marketing executive at Finexport Ltd in London and Bangkok until his retirement in 1992, since when he has been in private practice as a marketing consultant.

[2] Otherwise known as the Transtheoretical Model of Change