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spacer " Ole delivers the goods. He is engaging, refreshingly irreverent and tuned into the challenges of small business. You can appreciate why he was named the 2006 Impact Speaker of the Year by the world's largest CEO membership organization – Vistage."

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CDC Small Business Finance


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Change What is Not Working
By Ole Carlson
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Regardless of our intentions, if a method we are using does not work, it needs to be changed. Life changes, situations change, and the way to best handle situations change. What worked for you once may not work for you again. The problem is, all too often we struggle to let go of behaviors that we have clung to for so long. But what price are you paying to cling to those actions?

I once had the opportunity to observe a man named Steve. He had risen to a fairly impressive position in his company, no thanks to himself. He just so happened to be at the right place at the right time. He had no formal education, but knew all about self-interest.

Steve was a manager of a group of sales people. Every Monday they would have their weekly sales meetings. Steve would use this time to demean and belittle his team. He was crude, would shout, and make everyone there feel as worthless as possible.

He did this out of fear. He was fearful that if they preformed badly it would reflect on him, and thus jeopardize his position in the company. Thus, his team continually went through these self-esteem eroding meetings that were poorly planned, unorganized, and completely unproductive. In fact, they were the opposite of what they were supposed to be. Instead of producing positive results they had negative effects and impacts on the team, thus instead of a better performance, it worsened. Thus, each week the meetings became worse and worse. His public belittlements, harassment, and threats were ineffective at inspiring his team. Instead they effectively lost him a job when the company was sold, and a new owner took over.

What Steve did was not working. Unfortunately for him, he was too scared, and too prideful to see that what he was doing did not work, and needed changing. If an action, method, or idea is not working for you, then change it. Do not get in the way of yourself. Learn to appropriately manage your emotions of fear, anger, and anxiety. Recognize the results of your actions. You may find a nice vent on your team cathartic to you, but to the rest of the team it may mean decreased productivity, and decreased respect for you. So, ask yourself what behaviors and actions you have that need changing. Determine what the price is if you do not change them. For Steve, the price was his security, his nice home, his six figure paycheck. Is it worth it?

So, start now to change what is not working. Ask yourself the following question: are your actions and behaviors furthering the individual, group, or organization in a positive and constructive manner? If the answer is no…change! Look at your behaviors in the long and short run. For Steve in the short run he was able to get some steam off his chest, but in the long run, his employees were unhappy, unproductive, and ultimately he was not a successful business leader, and was replaced.

If you have trouble deciphering when you need to change, a good rule of thumb is that when life becomes too familiar, comfortable, and predictable, it is usually a sign that change is in order.


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