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Your Fear of Job Loss Hinders Innovation

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Change management theories often claim that people oppose change because of:

- Loss of control

- Fear of uncertainty

- Poor communication

- Lack of buy-in

- Fear of underperformance

- More work etc.

Yes, all that and the fact that sometimes the job itself has become unnecessary due to changes in the environment. I remember watching a documentary from the States where coal miners chose unemployment and demonstration for over 18 months claiming their original job back rather than reskilling themselves to do something else. It is clear that the coal miners' jobs are increasingly on the way out, yet, miners chose not to see this. Why? Because their salaries depend on not understanding it. It gives them an argument, even if it is a very weak one.

We can often recognise that behaviour at organisations when people continue processes & tasks that are unnecessary to keep their jobs. For example, they chose not to look at the automatisation of their admin work. I know a PA who once recommended the digital calendar app where people can book themselves with the CEO so she can save a lot of time. She came up with all sorts of excuses why it wouldn't work.

Refusing to admit that what we do might no longer be needed is tough because it immediately shakes people's confidence in reskilling themselves and questions their competence. Understandably, it triggers a reaction of paycheque protection that looks like opposition to change.

It is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it.

Organisations must acknowledge this if they want to implement change. Unfortunately, change & project management professionals fail to address this. Imagine the difference with the American coal miners if somebody told them, "I know you guys are afraid to learn something new in your 50s because it will not be easy, but we are here to help you.".

Reskilling should directly be linked to change because if there is no change, there is no need for reskilling. Reskilling must also include the redundancy of tasks & systems; otherwise, we increase the workload. I remember when we implemented an electronic system of Lost & Find items, security continued to log the items manually in their log books (as previously done). When I asked why the answer was, "In case the system is not working?".

Technology has reduced or can reduce our work by a few hours. Instead of figuring out what to do with that extra free time, we continued doing unnecessary tasks and desperately tried justifying them.

Look around and list five unnecessary things that you do and do something else instead. Even if what you do is go home earlier. That's better than facetime in the office doing useless things. You will say, "My boss wouldn't allow it." Well, then, have an honest conversation about your productivity. Or would your boss give you extra work? Well, it wouldn't be extra if you got rid of those useless tasks and did something useful instead. You will also feel better. Nobody enjoys doing things that make no difference.

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