You Have to Go Slow to Go Fast… Here’s Why

Did your parents ever spank you in an effort to force you to be better? How’d that go?

Maybe you succumbed to their will on the surface, but at your core you probably didn’t learn the lesson they were trying to teach… or perhaps you even developed a retaliation mindset.

You were likely overcome with fear, shock, and powerful resistance to this corrective approach. Perhaps if your parents had used more clear communication, guiding support, and gentle accountability, then you would have actually grown in the direction which they were leading you.

I thought of this analogy when working with a client who had brought in a new CEO to drive change within their organization. She led with a heavy hand, putting on the pressure and pushing people far out of their comfort zone – essentially breaking a lot of glass. This caused people to be paranoid, confused, and upset. Some people did lean in, but that caused fractions and division within the team. While she was there to change the trajectory of the organization for the better, she ended up causing a lot of damage. She came in with a pre-formulated solution which she tried to force-fit without any consideration of the actual nuances of the organization. Fast and hard was the name of the game — no matter what. But as we know, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to effective leadership. After about a year, the hoped-for change didn’t take and the organization was back to square one (actually, worse off), and had to start over with finding the right leader to drive the change in the organization.

Let’s compare this to another organization that we worked with around the same time, whose leader chose to take the latter approach from the get-go. Their change leader was thoughtful, intentional, and empathetic in her approach. We worked together to build a customized roadmap based on our collective understanding of the current culture, future goals, and how to effectively connect those dots. She set measurable goals, explained the why, provided clarity on the path, and got people excited and engaged with the change. The process was not rushed, and the outcome was infinitely more valuable. 

Now, that’s not to say there’s no value in the ‘rip the bandaid off’ approach. Each organization is unique, meaning the optimal style and pace of change is too. Companies that are deeply entrenched in the way they work will take longer to get things moving along, while more agile or modern organizations (like tech companies and young businesses) might adapt more easily.  

Each turnaround deserves its own well thought out process and plan. Every change process has phases, which, when rushed, will not take. Just because a company is approaching a crisis doesn’t mean they need drastic measures. In fact, the calm and quiet measures are often more effective than their big, loud, showy counterparts.

There’s no one correct style for facilitating change within an organization. Some need tough love and others need hand-holding. The important thing is to recognize that no two companies are alike, and trying to translate the same approach across a variety of organizations is bound to fail.

No matter what style of change an organization needs, it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to take time if you truly want the change to be lasting. Mindset, behaviors, policies, processes, and people have to change. In going from where you are to where you want to be, it’s a trot not a sprint. In allowing space and time for the changes to unfold, you set yourself up for more sustainable outcomes.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and when you try to force it to fit into your timeline, then you’re probably going to find yourself in the same spot or worse at the end of the mad-dash. Sometimes, you have to go slow in order to go fast.

The Silverene Group is proud to be a 100% minority, woman owned business.