The office was in need of a little updating and the new office manager thought it would be great to surprise his staff by purchasing new desk organizers and fixing up their workspaces over the weekend.

Making a special trip to the office supply store he was excited about picking out items that he thought would make the staff work more efficiently.

Back at the office he went through each desk sorting the piles, filing them neatly in the new file binders and stackers.  He changed their bulletin boards adding new colored pins, hung new calendars and even purchased new pens and highlighters and put them in a nice holder on each desk. He arranged each desk making them look like the ones in the office supply magazine.

As he finished and looked at each desk, he thought “won’t the staff be surprised in the morning when they see how nice, neat and organized their workspaces are.” Just a little change made such a nice improvement.

Well surprised they were, the next morning didn’t go quite how the manager was expecting.  While he thought that these little changes would make the staff happy, for the most part they were upset and a couple were even mad.

What happened, why weren’t they happy?  There were several reasons.

1. Workspaces become personal spaces and the staff felt their space was invaded without being consulted.

2. The work on their desks had been gone through and reorganized this gave them the feeling that how they organized their work was unsatisfactory.

3. The staff had their desks arranged in a way that was efficient for them, phone on the left side for the left-handed employees, stapler on the right side for the right-handed, etc. Now all of the desks were exactly alike.

4. Even their favorite pens were gone and they would have to use the ones  purchased, which were medium and most liked fine point.

The new office manager was shocked by such an unexpected reaction, he was the one who got the big surprise.  He made a common new manager mistake and that is forgetting what is small to you could be big to others. Especially when it comes to change.  It didn’t even occur to him how these changes might impact his staff.

There are so many lessons for managers to learn and Dan Rockwell Author of Leadership Freak addresses this very issue along with 12 other mistakes that new leaders make.  These common mistakes are not just for new managers, many experienced managers and leaders will make these same mistakes.  The link below takes you to this post, his blog always has excellent information for leaders.

Leadership Freak Article