Clenched Fists Work Well in Cage Fighting, Not in Organizational Change

“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” 

Indira Gandhi

Whether you are going through a change at the team, business unit or organization level, expect to experience a communication snafu or two as roles and boundaries are tested and defined. The opportunity / challenge is to manage through these moments as effectively as possible.

I recently received a professional certification from Daniel L. Shapiro, PhD., the faculty at Harvard University and coauthor of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. Shapiro confirmed the criticality of gaining role clarity from you manager and how to do it.


Ask your boss these four key questions in a neutral and safe way (translation: without a lot of attitude):

  1. What are my responsibilities?
  2. What decisions should I be involved in?
  3. How do I ensure that I get the information I need to do what I am expected to do?
  4. Is there any advice you can give me that would prevent this from happening again?

Result: Your manager will respect your actions to work reduce the drama that can be present during organizational change.  Good luck.

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Sandra Schwan

Sandra Schwan

Managing Partner at Evolving Strategies LLC
Sandra is the Managing Partner of Evolving Strategies LLC, a consulting firm helping companies and people learn, adapt and perform. Sandra holds a Master of Science degree in Adult Learning and Strategic Organizational Change from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas. Previous employers include the Corporate Executive Board, Lante Corporation, Kensington International, and Accenture where Sandra was awarded mentor of the year.

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