Chameleons have Growing Pains Too

We often use the example of the caterpillar that has to struggle to become a butterfly. It is in the struggle, the metamorphosis, that the change can take place. Often there is a resistance to change, a desire to stay in the comfort zone, but the reality is that can be the equivalent of stagnation. Nothing grows in the comfort zone.

Roy T. Bennett, in The Light in the Heart, said:

“If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”

At Chameleon Skills we believe in change, adapting to the demands of the environment, the changing needs of clients and whatever may come our way. We take our clients on transition journeys, sometimes into the real unknown, other times into a planned but slightly scary new future where the outcomes are not guaranteed.

So, you might think that we don’t have to go through the growing pains. Well, you would be wrong! We still need to focus on identifying the causes of our pain and deciding how we want to grow.

Our key learnings about our growing pains, which you may recognise in your organisation:

Anything more than a one-man band needs structure

As we expand our reach, we need to bring more people into the fold. That means more management, and that in turn means more structure. We realise when we work with our clients that the incorrect structure, or lack of clarity around it, can lead to confusion, work falling between the cracks and conflict. So now we are building our structure more intentionally.

Know your strengths

A reluctance to expand can mean taking on more and more tasks that lead to overwork, irritation and burnout. The reality is too that we are not all good at everything! Shocking to admit but true. So the next hurdle can be outsource those task that you are not good at, or do not like doing so they are energy draining. There are people who love doing the things you hate, so find them. Here we see challenges in organisations where managers and leaders do not delegate. Do you want to be a work horse or a race horse?

Keeping the close connections

When there are only two of you or a small team you can keep the communication going very easily. Particularly when people are working in the same office and bump into each other at the coffee machine. As the organisation grows there is less time to connect that closely, suddenly you are sending WhatsApp’s and emails instead of actually speaking to each other. The team can become less cohesive, people lose that sense of joint purpose and connectedness. You need to guard that personal time for just being together with no agenda.

You forget your manners

You are busy and have many things to focus on and it is easy to forget the basic things that matter to us as humans. You stop pausing to say please and thank you to the people that are working with you and for you. We have clients who tell us they are too busy for that. We all like to be seen and recognised. It does not need to be with trumpets and fanfare! Consideration and understanding do not cost anything. You can be efficient and nice!

Forgetting the boundaries

Your organisation or department is growing. It may be a major part of your world, your baby, but to other people it may be where they work, where they earn a living and so you cannot expect them to have the same level of commitment. Learn to be reasonable and allow boundaries in your workplace. It can be simple like not sending emails or WhatsApp’s after hours so people do not feel obliged to respond. If you couple this with remembering your manners you will do well.

As change and transition consultants we have learned this and (yet) we have to regularly stop and review what we are doing. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say”. I don’t know who said that, but we frequently see it with clients, so we ask ourselves the questions often. We also have to overcome resistance to change at times – we were OK with the online but the video and podcasts and others forms of self-promotion are not our natural spaces. They are taking us out of our comfort zones.

Watch this space to see us thriving through the growing pains.

As a leader in your organisation making some planned changes that will move you, your teams and the individuals forward, why not let us help you. Follow this link to our website and find out how we can support you.

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