Move jitters

The office move that I've written about a few times is now imminent. Two weeks to go.
This is where the many weeks and months of exhortation to think about packing, reminders that everyone only gets two crates, lists of things which can or can't be taken and weekly change management one hour preparation sessions, not to mention email updates, FAQ site, town halls, management emails, etc, etc, all seem to have fallen on deaf ears – even though people appeared to be attentive, participating and involved.

Suddenly people seem to be waking up to the fact that orange plastic crates beginning to decorate the place are not early signs of Halloween but receptacles for their items. They seem totally baffled by the now reality that their allotted two crates do not hold 10 years of documents, acres of fluffy toys from the tops of their computers, endless commemorative mugs, plaques, and other memorabilia, forests of potted plants, and their personal desktop toaster.

So the move co-ordinators are getting what is called in management jargon 'push-back'. We seem to be spending hours of time not filling our own two crates but answering move questions that have already been answered many times, and the answers are there on the FAQ website as well: "What color are the lockers?" "Can I take my personal coat stand?" "Why do we have to share printers?"

I am not sure where the failure of communication has occurred but it seems a standard thing to happen in this kind of large scale change in spite of what seemed communication over-kill.. Only when the change is right there do people believe it is going to happen. In fact some people still don't think they will be moving in two weeks banking on a last minute intervention that will stay the whole process.

These reactions sent me to my bookshelf to re-read William Bridges book Managing Transitions. Unfortunately I couldn't find it – only his book Job Shift – I hope that isn't telling me something. But I did refind John Fisher's Process of Transition graphic. Looking at it I felt that people had gone from Denial to Depression in a quick movement, with some heading off towards Hostility. I'm hoping that with the draw of coupons, goody bags, management attention, not to mention moving to a totally new space, fully outfitted with state of the art everything, the trend will start upwards towards "this can work and be good".

In any event I will attend the Real Estate Executive Board's event on November 4 called Headquarter Relocation Strategy Playbook. "This teleconference lays out a road map on the best way to tackle a headquarter relocation. Filled with case studies, actionable tools, and time-saving templates, this playbook should be your first stop when creating your own internal strategy. "

It may be too late for us to do anything now but it'll all be grist for the mill next time around.