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Mixed Signals

Mixed signals constitute one of the most confounding forces you would come across in an organization. It’s the contradictory forms of signals a change agent gets from the members of an organization or team into which s/he enters. At one end of the spectrum of signals is the message- “Do transform!” It’s a message as bright as the sun on a summer noon and as loud as America’s fourth of July fireworks. But at the other end would be the exact opposite message- “Restrain! Don’t make a transformation!”

Between these two polar opposites are an array of signals that veer more towards one or the other end. And it’s these cacophonous signals that stand in for a greeting once a change agent begins his or her job of transformation.

Mixed signals are no rare phenomenon. Anyone who has worked at an enterprise level at an organization would have experienced this. For almost all organizations present mixed signals to the change agent when the latter enters the picture.

In any container with multiple members, mixed signals is perhaps inevitable

Two of the most common forces found in a mixed signals scenario are inclusion and exclusion. Even as a container- or rather, its team members- try to be inclusive of a change agent, it also tries to identify those it should expel. (There are other elements too within the mixed signals environment, which we would explore in future blog posts.)

Confounding as the phenomenon may be, mixed signals still don’t pose an impenetrable force field. In fact, a change agent could use the mixed signals as a leverage in the transformation process. By default, mixed signals signify the presence of team members with different attitudes towards the transformation. These differences could in turn be the result of insecurities and fears. Should the transformation take the organization to a better place? Wouldn’t it be better for it to remain in the same space? These might be questions that bother some of the members. And these very questions may be what make them reluctant to follow you down a path of change.

These are but very human fears which you should expect in any container. The first step then, is to acknowledge that it’s natural for mixed signals to exist. The second step is to address the different concerns that the team members have regarding the transformation. If the concerns are unfounded, this is your chance to enlighten them about it, and gain their trust. If the concerns are genuine and are things you haven’t thought of before, this may be the time to incorporate relevant solutions in the transformation plan. In other words, by accepting mixed signals and tackling the problems head on, you get a two-fold advantage: one is that you get a chance to establish trust with your team members, the other is that your transformation plan could get even stronger.

Now, just as you may have thought “That’s all there is to it, now we know mixed signals and the way to tackle them!” let us introduce another fascinating aspect of mixed signals. It’s that the difficulties a change agent faces with mixed signals may come not just from the signals that say ‘Don’t make changes!’

Here is a case in point: If the idea of a transformation didn’t come as a result(direct or indirect) of the activation of your life force or vision, and you still ask someone to come in and initiate the transformation, you may be sending out mixed signals, even though on the surface, the message is, “By all means, make the transformation!”

And once the transformation begins, the very person who invited you to the process may have second-thoughts, at least on a subconscious level, and he or she could stand as an impediment in your way.

In other words, if the transformation process is something of a fantasy of the management, you are bound to get mixed signals. If the transformation is something that leads to the activation of their life purpose or vision, or conversely, something that’s part of their vision, such mixed signals needn’t arise. But the true vision or life purpose could be found inside oneself in the absence of distractions and fantasy. You could cut through the distractions et al using the Temenos process of Discernment.  It’s a methodical process that helps you reach at your true vision.

A snapshot of a Temenos Discernment process

The point here is that the concept of mixed signals is not all black and white. The signals that work against your transformation endeavor may come from the least expected corners. Ergo, the strategies to tackle the problems may also vary from container to container.

The point here is that the concept of mixed signals is not all black and white. The signals that work against your transformation endeavor may come from the least expected corners. Ergo, the strategies to tackle the problems may also vary from container to container.

Mixed signals could be confounding at times

One famous example of a change agent confronting mixed signals is that of Winston Churchill. Churchill became Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940 after Neville Chamberlain had to resign from the position since he was deemed too weak against the Nazi forces. It was the height of the Second World War and a low point in history. During the war, the British Expeditionary Force got trapped at Calais and Dunkirk in France. Churchill ordered a Brigade in Calais to a suicide mission so they could buy time for the troops trapped in Dunkirk to escape.

Following this, many in Churchill’s War Cabinet felt that Britain should enter into negotiations with Germany. At the same time, many among the public, and even the King of England were of the opposite opinion- that they should never negotiate but continue fighting the Germans. From the diverse people for whom he served as the leader, Churchill was receiving mixed signals. It’s a testimony to Churchill’s clarity of vision regarding the merits of democracy that he eschewed  Hitler’s autocratic philosophy and going even against his War Cabinet, fought the Nazis. Otherwise, the world we live in today would have been a drastically different place.

Change agents in modern organizations could also take a leaf from Churchill’s mode of functioning- by never losing their vision regarding the transformation they are making, and guiding the team resolutely towards that objective.

000001 copy_aFor change agents and leaders, not to benefit from meaningful events and gatherings is a missed opportunity! We invite you to indulge in some of the most transformational events from Temenos; designed with hard-earned understanding, organized just for you.

Temenos Vision Lab- Online ( June 29, 2018)

We invite you to this special gathering, which brings together a group of wonderful people who fill workplaces with joy and energy. By connecting with each other, you embark on a journey that leads to better clarity about the changes you seek, gain collaboration opportunities and leave with a concrete action plan.

Temenos Vision Lab- Amsterdam, Netherlands( Nov 2, 2018)

Another venue to take an exquisite inner journey, to find your true Vision.

Temenos Effect Gathering 2018- Bengaluru, India(Dec 8 to Dec 9, 2018)

An event dedicated to the idea of personal mastery, for nurturing your beautiful self, for change agents and leaders to become their true selves.

For more details, visit our website - https://www.visiontemenos.com/events


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