Change Activists Wanted

role in delivering performance improvement is crucial, especially in a slowing
economy. So how are you going to get your message across? asks Carmel McConnell

economy is cooling down, which means the cost-cutting agenda is back. Senior
management looks for ways to keep the shareholders happy. The “doing more with
less, and still smiling” posters go back up on the walls. Sound familiar?

this may not be the case where you are. But you still aim to give the team more
performance bang for each training buck anyway, right? So the big question is,
what is the best strategy for yourself and your department during this coming
downturn? How can you increase awareness of the training and development value

Change Activist, I demonstrate that there are valuable lessons to learn from
the passion and focus of social activists; lessons that can be used by anyone
to make big (ethical) things happen fast in the workplace. After 10 years of
change leadership in the film industry and financial services, my experience
has been that people who consistently develop their skills to meet the needs of
the changing marketplace have made the biggest contribution. And reaped the
biggest rewards in terms of personal and material recognition. Are you one of
those people – in the making? It is your choice – your contribution level
equals your satisfaction level.

success depends on your ability to take action. Let me give you an example.
Development professionals need to be close to their senior team, to help them,
in turn, get closer to their customers. How exactly? Well, the right skills and
behaviour provide the right performance – which might be the difference between
success and failure, for you and your firm. Could you be the development
manager who speaks up to remind the business of that?

the answer is yes, let’s consider first things first – getting in front of
people. How to help others understand the marketplace benefit of your
contribution. Hard? Maybe. But believe me, it’s not as hard as reading an
e-mail stating that an external vendor has been appointed to provide online
development as part of some great new strategy (which you know won’t work!).

can make things happen as a training change activist. Such as:

– Decide you are going to help the senior team – and your colleagues – be in
the best shape to deal with the coming slowdown

– Start here. Proactively educate yourself about the marketplace. For example,
what is the most profitable niche in your marketplace? Can you build skills and
behaviour to maximise on that?

– Put yourself in the shoes of the external customer. What do they need from
your firm? What could you do to reinforce existing strengths?

– Work out allies on the senior team. Who recognises skills and behaviour as
critical to survival?

– When are you going to meet them? You have a really useful message on how to
reinforce peak performance during this downturn, so make it a priority to tell

know all that stuff about partnering with the business, leading through
learning, common focus on achieving the business priorities, those good
seminars, conferences, courses. Guess what – it wasn’t all theory.

you choosing to make sure your skills are seen as critical during the next few
months, or are you hoping it will all go away?

is where you get yourself into the right place and take action to make it happen.
As I tell people: the only way to do it – is to do it.

details of current Change Activist development programmes, send an e-mail to  or call 07710 057955. Change Activist is
published in the Momentum Series by FT/Pearson

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