Client stories: change management at E.TV

Sailing Through Changing Weather : a workshop for

“Our department received Personal Change Management training facilitated by CONTRACT SA. The workshop was well organized and executed and uniquely structured to suit our requirements engaging us from start to finish. The content covered provided staff with practical, theoretical and emotional tools to cope with change for effortless application within work and personal contexts. The expert facilitation guided us through a healthy balance between learning and having fun in a relaxed and comfortable environment leaving us with enduring impressions and valuable insights on change as a positive force within our team.”

Lynn Johnson; Systems Manager and Trainer: Libraries & Archives Department

All quiet on set…..Places….Camera… Action!

What a surprise to notice that we are being filmed for our one-day change management workshop – but on the other hand, is that really surprising when working with a large national TV station in South Africa?

It was a typical windy, rainy day when we facilitated our one day Change Management Workshop with at Cape Town’s Waterfront. With 25 employees from the Libraries and Archives department, we started with an appreciative look at delegates’ past, namely when before they experienced positive change, and what strengths they tapped into when they experienced this change.

This initial question was only the start of a personal journey for people attending our workshop. Not only did they learn about change, phases of change, and the emotional patterns that people go through when experiencing change, but they were also asked to relate these changes personally. What choice did they find themselves making when being faced with change?

Building an action plan

As the day progressed, we got into some ‘serious’ work and discussed the changes being experienced at at the moment. What did the organisation need to do to stay abreast with what was going on in the industry, and what role could each person play to make the transition easier? The focus of the session intensified as people started thinking about their respective roles to be played during the change, and discussing actions to take in the near future.

Once action plans were set, we divided into groups, and the delegates worked on demonstrating the benefits and opportunities of changes for the organisation and its people in a humorous way. The fun started when the groups prepared their skits, and by the time they presented their demonstrations, we could hardly contain ourselves with laughter. From beautifully coordinated boat crews chanting change benefits in chorus, to drunk captains of boats and pirates, to crews pulling lost sailors out of the waters, we all realised the beauty of team work in times of ‘bad weather’ or change.

Surprises all around

Having started with a surprise for us – being filmed whilst facilitating our workshop – the workshop ended on a surprising note as well. Of all the aspects we covered during the workshop and discussion we had, what stood out for almost everyone was the discussion on the freedom to choose. This had been an earlier discussion on personal reactions when faced with change. Do we choose to be shocked by change, be intimidated by it or even threatened? Or alternatively, do we face it with courage and determination, seeing it as an experience in which to learn and grow?

Most people realised that when faced with something unexpected, or when faced with something that might be new and unclear, they still have the ability – in spite of feeling the fear, or the worry – to choose a reaction that is more constructive, makes them feel better about themselves, and ultimately more powerful. Agreeing with a change in our lives or at work is not a prerequisite of this standpoint – sometimes we might find the change unpleasant, or we are unable to understand it. But for the group at the take-away message was: feel the fear and do it anyway – as common as this saying might be, it still rings true for many of us in these times of constant change.

We know that as delegates noted their insights into the toy sailing boats they received at the end of the day, many of them wrote themselves a reminder of their experience during the workshop. Listening to their comments at the end, we gathered that many of those related to facing ‘stormy and changing weather’, and the realisation that when dealing with the storms of daily life, their own and personal way is the best route and is entirely in their own hands.
On reflection, the appropriateness of the workshop’s location was a pleasant realisation. We thoroughly enjoyed and referenced to the many boats floating in Cape Town’s harbour. Elegantly poised in the waters irrespective of weather conditions, and having to cope with ever changing seas. And whilst it was an un-usual scenario for us to be filmed facilitating a workshop, we decided that in the spirit of change, just like those boats outside, it could become something we could adapt to.

Judith Haupt and Helene Theron