The Matriarchs and Patriarchs

Training, coaching, and mentoring are ways that organisations can assist the development of staff.  Of the many great organisations I work with, you can tell which of them have invested time and money into their employees.  These organisations know that the return on investment in their staff far outweighs the initial outlay.

These organisations spend time, effort, and money on continually updating their work practices. However, not all staff enjoy being introduced to new ways of doing things.  There is a unique group of people who work in most organisations, these are the matriarchs and the patriarchs. 

They are the staunch women and men aged in their fifties who have worked in their particular field of expertise for the majority of their careers. Not all 50+ year old's fit into this category, just one or two. They number about one in forty of the workforce yet have a strong hold over their peers.

These people have seen plenty of change, they have dealt with every type of customer, and have been to every type of training you can name. Or so they say. 

They are reluctant to change, they want to know everything there is to know as to why they need to change, they will reject new ideas and methods of doing things, show disdain towards all performance measurement tools and have a strong ‘them and us’ attitude towards management.    

During coaching workshops they will stare fiercely out the window or at the wall while waiting for their opportunity to blast the coach with why the coach is wrong, why they are right and they know how to deal with people without help from anyone else. 

However, they do have a lot of experience and if you can get them onside they will help you to introduce new initiatives. Simply bringing in a coach for a single session won’t be enough to change their attitude, they must be regularly involved in engaging with the change-coach who will play to their ego so much so that they will believe it was their idea to make the change.      

You have to invest time with these people and show them the benefits of the initiative. They will act as the guide-stick for how well the change is embedding and will ensure groupthink is negated when they are on committees. Give them something to do to introduce the change, this will play to their ego and allow them to focus their energy on something positive.

The matriarchs and patriarchs will always be around, use them to your advantage rather than ignore them. They can make or break you, not the other way around.