Practical Gestalt techniques
Last week, I discussed the concept of gestalt psychology and how it relates to change management from something of a theoretical perspective. With the theory in place, what I would like to do in this post is get down to some Gestalt techniques that can help you facilitate change in the corporate environment.
This sets the groundwork by managing expectations and intentions. Where major change is coming, it is worthwhile to spend some one-to-one time with each member of the team. Here, you can encourage them to set aside their preconceived ideas about what the future holds, because none of us know that. Encourage curiosity and challenge participants to attend to the next stage of group meetings with the attitude not of “what do we have to do,” but “what do we need to find out?”
At the fundamental level, this practice asks individuals within the team to define and reassess the landscape themselves before anyone even starts thinking about formulating solutions.
This is an intriguing step that allows team members to experiment with new ways of doing things without any pressure or obligation. Talking about change achieves very little, while experimenting with new ways of doing things encourages trial and error, risk taking and challenging the status quo.
More importantly, it once again has the effect of opening eyes to new possibilities of how things can be done differently, and that disturbing the familiar pattern can result in improvements. The point here is to come to a group understanding that change is more than just for the better, it is right.
Gestalt techniques help us to see and understanding the “big picture”, and there is no way that anybody can do that without perceiving things from the perspectives of others. Role play is an important way of not only lifting the scales from the eyes, but also of enhancing employee engagement.
It is worth taking the time and effort to put employees into the role of managers for half an hour and invite them to come up with solutions to challenges such as increasing productivity, improving profitability or combating staff absenteeism.
Bear in mind that the learning process is not purely for the benefit of employees. As a manager, there are valuable lessons to be learned about staff and what makes them tick from the way they react to these challenges and the solutions they put forward.
Slow down to arrive faster
Inevitably, leadership teams often want change to happen fast. An approach based on gestalt techniques challenges this — the process of framing the landscape, then allowing the team to experiment with different methods and settle into a new paradigm naturally, cannot be achieved overnight.
One of the biggest challenges is for management itself to have faith in the system, sit back and be open to new practices and approaches. It is impossible for work to grind to a halt while change takes place, yet change is nevertheless a business-critical process. If executed correctly, a gestalt approach to change management means that by slowing down, you can forge ahead faster.