The Devil's Approach to Change Management

Have you ever read The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis? It's a little book about a junior level Devil who is being mentored by his uncle, a more senior Devil named Screwtape, on the ways to tempt and entrap a human soul.
In the spirit of Lewis' classic, here are some fiendish tips from another Devil on some of the worst ways to lead people through organizational change.
"Off with their heads" - In an M&A, make the first order of business a massive blood-shedding. Immediately eliminate all the old management that could threaten or block progress.
"Ram it down their throats" - At the first Town Hall meeting, make it crystal clear that "it's a new day" whether you like it or not. And you had better get with the program.
"You people suck" - Round up the "survivors" of the downsizing and herd them into an intense indoctrination session where the facilitators belittle and demean everyone in the room.
"Leave the workforce out" - When planning for the change, only include those who "need to know." The front-line workers don't need to know...until it's time for them to be told.
"Limit communication to 'Because I said so'" - Don't raise people's hopes by listening or making a show of caring what they think. Silence the naysayers.
"You don't know jack" - Be sure to denigrate the ideas of the acquired employees at every turn.
"Keep em in the dark" - The best approach to communication during a significant organizational change is The Mushroom Theory: Keep em in the dark...and feed them s**t.
What inspired the above diabolical post? Recently, a colleague shared an advertisement from a major provider of management education (I won't name them to save them the embarrassment) where the write-up about Change Management promised that you would learn "ways to silence the naysayers."
Silence the naysayers??? I couldn't believe that such was actually in print!
That hellish bit of advice seemed to come straight from the Devil.
It reminded me of a real M&A experience of mine where all of the points listed above actually happened! To this day, my head still spins when I think back on it.
While it is true that "the devil is in the details," you do not want the devil influencing how you lead others through change.
Terrence Seamon guides his clients through change. Follow him on twitter @tseamon

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