September 2017 Executive Director’s Message

Remember What Got Us Here, May Not Get Us There

By Dr. Felita Jones

A few days ago, I met with an employee who asked me about change management and what my overall thoughts were about change for the organization and how I would describe myself in relation to leading change in this new leadership role.  After some thought, my response was…

I am a change agent. I live on “Change Boulevard” and not “Same Old Street.” My goal is to foster a commitment of service and to help lead the organization to the next level of success by setting the stage for an embracement of change, and working alongside those ready and primed to accept it.  Change has never been something that is easy to digest nor does it ever happen overnight. It’s a very delicate and often a painful process; but it need not be.  While it’s true that change literally changes change, it also invites for the opportunity to do something new and to push past old ways of thinking.  While it may be difficult to hear and accept, some things within an organization may have outlived their shelf-life and need to be put aside before new and exciting things can happen for the organization.

Undoubtedly, change is difficult and we often avoid it and sometimes at all cost. Yet change is quite necessary and is constantly happening all around us and often at lightning speed. Regardless of our roles or levels of responsibility within the organization, we are often conditioned to fear change and to avoid it at all cost.  Preserving the status quo becomes our primary goal and as such, we effectively run the risk of being left behind and becoming obsolete.  While we may continue pressing forward, we never quite achieve the pinnacle of success that we know we can get to if we just push past ourselves just a little harder to “think outside the box.”  Each of us must look inward and ask ourselves if we are indeed part of the change or if we are simply failing to adapt to something that we find fearful.

Simply put, most organizations are not wired for change and many will fail to readily accept change and either die out in the process or they’ll stall mid-stream and never truly realize their fullest or greatest potential. But, not on my watch.

Being a change agent has never been a popular position to undertake. One must be able to steadfastly go against the way things are being done and the way things have always been done especially if they no longer work anymore or fail to serve the greater good.  One must be brave enough to challenge a system which does not fully meet the needs of its greatest assets; its employees.  One must be willing to challenge what has become standard in people’s minds and be okay with the fact that not everyone will make it on the journey.  One must be laser focused on the vision ahead of them, and less so on whether everyone is personally pleased with them or their efforts.  One must be willing to stand strong for that which they believe in and that which is worth fighting for.  And most importantly, one must have the support and leadership surrounding them to be able to effectively drive change in an unfettered way that allows them to sufficiently exercise the influence that their role calls for.

No doubt about it, this is often uncomfortable work.  New systems may need to replace outdated processes that no longer work.  New attitudes and mindsets will need to be supported and actively encouraged.  And most importantly new behaviors will need to be upheld as fundamental tenets to achieving long-term success within the organization.  Change is hard but I am encouraged because so many of you have already shown me that you can handle change.

Having so many line staff and managers reach out to me personally to share their goals for the future and to let me know that I have their commitment to being part of the change is simply awe-inspiring.  For example, I’m moved by Latreasha’s forward thinking plans to help bring a new service line to the organization; I’m amazed at Tina’s desire to grow and expand our GAP services; I’m inspired by Lyle’s dedication to the clients he serves; I’m ever appreciative of Francisco’s vocal positivity and welcoming nature for all things change related; and I’m thankful for Leora’s feedback letting me know how much she appreciates our new employee recognition efforts.  I’m humbled at all these employees and even those who I won’t name but who have shared their stories and journeys with me, some painful and some difficult to hear.  I thank you for trusting me with your stories, your future goals, your own visions for the organization and your commitment to working alongside me to achieve great things for FACT– TOGETHER!  Yes, change is hard.  Always has been, always will be.  I however remain encouraged at your willingness to be part of the change and your fearless nature to move beyond what has always been to what we can now become.

Always remember – “What got us here, may not get us there.”  We must be willing to continually evolve and move towards change, for if we do not step forward, we will always be in the same place.

Change nothing and nothing changes.

Please consider sharing your thoughts on change with me at [email protected]