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Terry Duffy - Who says being two faced is wrong?

Friday 20 January 2017

Terry Duffy Terry Duffy, Senior Adviser

Terry Duffy is a Senior Adviser in the North West. He has worked for Acas for 15 years, and is a mediator and conciliator with extensive experience of resolving individual and group disputes. He also works with organisations to manage change programmes and deliver bespoke training on employment law and employment relations issues.


Who says being two faced is wrong...?

Certainly not the Romans who celebrated the god Janus precisely for this ability to simultaneously look backwards as well as forwards. Thanks to a lovely birthday present, I'm now reconnecting to the wonder, wisdom, wildness and wit of the Roman Empire. Janus was the traditional god of beginnings and transitions - the doors of his temple were kept open in times of war and only closed when peace was declared. This idea of transition by looking backwards and forwards got me thinking about change.


For many people, 2016 was seen as an extraordinary year. Events like the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the passing of many iconic figures had a dramatic impact.

Many commentators unhappy with 2016 couldn't wait to see the back of last year, as if its challenges and concerns could be wiped clean by the dawn of a new year. But that's not how it works is it? In 2017, those same concerns and challenges of 2016 remain stubbornly in place and now have an added sense of imminence.

So what's this got to do with change? Research on change in organisations reveals that less than 60% achieve what they set out to do.

This is where being more like Janus can help. Going forwards is always a step into the unknown - and it can be uncomfortable and unsettling for people. Thinking, talking and making plans can go some way to making any changes easier for people to understand, accept and deliver. Learning lessons from what has gone before by looking backwards can be instrumental in making the changes you need to make succeed.

The pace of the modern world often makes it difficult to stop and devote time to thinking about what we really want to achieve. And let's not forget that change is also an emotional journey for the people in your business. While some will embrace and relish change - and look forward with no looking back - others will be anxious and preoccupied with having to let go of old certainties and will find it hard to look forward away from what they see as lost.

Working out how to meet the challenges ahead and taking everyone with you is not easy and you might find it helpful to talk to someone about learning lessons from the past and mapping out your future direction. Acas has a network of local senior advisers that you can contact for a chat. You could also have a look at our guidance on Managing change.

Don't worry we're not actually two faced - and we will always aim to provide open, honest and practical advice to help your business succeed.

Now where was I? Right...Caesar's just about to cross the Rubicon... Oops - I think I know how this ends!


Add a comment+
  • Posted by Peter Copping  |  25 January 2017, 11:08AM

    Terry seems to be adressing orgnisational change but the practice of staff appraial provides a Janus process of review and going foward which offers asimpler model to start with. 

    But Janus does everyhting at New Year like  the performance review rather than a development plan which can continual and included in Management/ Employee interactions

  • Posted by Mary  |  21 January 2017, 10:13AM

    Interesting comparison ;) I love mythology but I've never thought of interpreting Janus's image this way. I hope more leaders will start thinking this way.