This post is the first in a series written by Saleha Wadee CEO of Laurus Development, the first mutual to spin out of the probation service.
5 Stages of grief
In the classic 5 stages of grief model developed by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, she explains that individuals experiencing major change, such as a loss through death or divorce, go through 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally, Acceptance.
The model was first published in the late sixties but it quickly became clear that this model didn’t just apply to individuals but also to organisations. This led to the development of the change curve which is a clear and graphic way to describe the stages.
When we examine what the Probation sector is experiencing at present and apply this model to Probation staff and Probation Trusts, we can see why there is so much denial, anger, depression and bargaining in our day to day business.
LAURUS OD Solutions is a Joint Venture which was set up by the five North West Probation Trusts, Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside in order to develop and deliver training centrally for the Trusts. The longer term plan was for LAURUS to “spin out” and stand on its own feet as a private provider using scale and self management to make it a commercial success.
During this process and the laboured progression of the transforming rehabilitation agenda we at LAURUS have been through all five change stages but, in the last few months, have used the acceptance stage to become more focused on what we needed to do to make the new training company a commercial success that continues to serve the training requirements of staff delivering offender services.
Employee engagement is central
A key part of this acceptance was the realisation that employee engagement was central to driving forward plans to transform ourselves from a service-based and passive organisation to a dynamic commercially focused one. We had to recognise that our future careers depended on us developing products, delivering great service, attracting and motivating the best staff and persuading potential customers that we are the best option for all their training needs in the sector.
It quickly became obvious that we wanted to turn ourselves into a mutual where employees have a stake in the business, where “profit” is used to grow and reinvest and where all decisions on business strategy come from “bottom-up”. This process of self renewal has helped us to speed up our progress through the change curve and has driven high levels of engagement in the process of renewal.
A good example of this has been the crazy but necessary way in which our preparatory work for the new mutual has had to be done outside of normal working time and funded by ourselves.
We introduced “twilight” sessions during the evening where staff, who do not know whether they will have a job going forward, gave up their personal time driving halfway across the region to meet, unpaid, for development sessions to shape the new company. This is a level of engagement that has never been seen before and confirmed to us that we had made the right decision.
This is a great example of the mind-set being freed from its former constraints. Trainers call this “breakthrough thinking” where employees, faced with a decision, don’t ask, “what did we do before” but “what could we do?”
In fact, our internal experience has been nothing but good once we had been through our stages of grief for our previous existence.
Undergoing the change curve is
- one way only
- undertaken at different speeds by different people & organisations
My experience is that the journey can be made much quicker by involving the staff in decision-making, strategy, business development and the overall direction the new venture will take.
In my next post, I will cover the options for mutualisation, the steps involved and the potential pitfalls and benefits.
If you have been inspired by this blog and are interested in joining LAURUS as an associate trainer you can access further information at http://www.laurusdevelopment.co.uk/our-team/
You can also follow Larus Development on Twitter: @LaurusDev