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Change management

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Change management

  1. 1. Change Management Leading in Times of Transition The New Reality: Extraordinary Times Are Ordinary Forget the notion of keeping up with change — organizations are awash in it. Employees experience waves of change, one after another. In these times when unrelenting change is becoming the norm, leaders have no choice but to adapt and help others to adapt. Organizational events such as restructuring, mergers and acquisitions or financial problems force leaders to rethink their work and adapt to a changing workforce. Pressure to achieve results and to satisfy often-competing demands builds the intensity. External factors - the economy, industry and market trends, globalization, political and social concerns and rapid technological changes all conspire to make leadership a complex, difficult undertaking. "Leadership today often feels extreme and extraordinary," says CCL's Michael Wakefield. "Paradoxically, the dynamic of extraordinary times in organizations is becoming ordinary and commonplace for most leaders." Rapid change and constant transition have created a more emotional dynamic in organizations. "Uncertainty can trigger all kinds behavioral and emotional reactions from leaders and the people who are affected by the decisions of leadership," explains Wakefield. "Confronted by change, people go through a time of transition that is rarely easy. They adapt at different paces and in various ways, depending upon the circumstances and the individual." People have come to accept change as a part of organizational life and are more comfortable in adapting to it. But the challenge of leadership remains a difficult problem. Leading Change Versus Leading Transition The complexity and intensity of transition is a reaction to change - and the more frequent or more dramatic the change, the more complex the process of transition. Yet, organizations and leaders commonly overlook or dismiss the human side of change. "Many managers have mastered the structural side of leading change - creating a vision, reorganizing, restructuring and so on," Wakefield says. "They are rewarded, evaluated and educated to deal with the structural issues and so have more experience with them." The stresses and pressures generated by structural or operational change lead to an increased need to pay attention to what's going on with the people in the organization. Leading transition is about guiding people though a process of grieving, letting go, building hope and learning. "In many ways, the bigger challenge for leaders is to manage the longer-term, human aspects of change: recovery, revitalization and recommitment," says Wakefield.
  2. 2. What's at Stake? Research shows that 75 percent of change initiatives fail. So what's missing? Managing change requires leaders to deal effectively with both the structural side of leading change and the human dynamic of transition. When the skills associated with either side are overplayed, leaders destabilize the organizational culture by eroding trust. Instead of a loyal, productive and enthusiastic workforce, executives and managers must lead employees who are insecure, fearful and skeptical. By failing to gain sufficient buy-in from employees, leaders slow down and undermine their progress toward new goals. "When leaders ignore or minimize the people side of managing change, perfectly good strategies and change initiatives stall or fail," says Wakefield. Managing change requires leaders to focus simultaneously on managing the business and providing effective leadership to the people. Change Management – Managing change is the most important aspect of any effort to improve organizational performance. We view change management as a deliberate process that starts with an understanding of the need for dealing with change, as well as the motivation for causing positive change. Once we help you accomplish this step, we can then move on to helping you develop internal and external support for your vision, manage the transition, and sustain the momentum.
  3. 3. 7 Essential Skills for Managing Change By Mark Harrison 28 By Mark Harrison It’s a cliché, but change has always been the only constant. In recent times, the pace of change has accelerated greatly, and we all need to find ways to deal creatively with this fact of modern life. Leaders, in particular, need to face
  4. 4. and manage change in a constructive way, but everyone who wants to be successful – in career, in relationships, in life – must learn how to see and manage change the way that successful ‘change leaders’ do. Such leaders are adaptable and creative, responding to change in three key ways. 1. People who respond well to change will have a high ‘ambiguity threshold.’ Change is inherently ambiguous, and those who deal creatively with change will have a high tolerance for uncertainty and ‘shades of grey.’ 2. Skillful managers of change will have a constructive ‘internal monologue.’ They will see themselves as inherently powerful and having the ability to control elements of the situation in which they find themselves. Some circumstances cannot be changed, but the way we respond to them is always a choice, and we always have a sphere of influence, however small. By focusing on this sphere of influence, and not expending energy bemoaning the area outside it, the circle will start to expand and give us progressively more control. Solutions to problems always exist, and the ‘internal monologue’ should reflect the desire to find them and the certainty that they can be successfully implemented. 3. Those who deal well with change will have a good reservoir of emotional, physical and mental energy from which to draw when things get tough. Managing Change The above ways of dealing with change tend to be innate, with some people having a greater capacity for one or more of them than others. However, they can be learned, and the following are seven tips for improving your skills in managing change. 1. Spend time reflecting on your own core values and your mission in life. A sense of purpose is essential to success and effectiveness, and those
  5. 5. without a clear idea of what they are doing and why they are doing it will not have the foundation to keep going in the face of change. 2. Be persistent. Success is usually more to do with tenacity that genius. Persistence is only possible when you have clarified your values and when you are able to build on the bedrock of purpose. Successful people keep going in the face of change, finding new and creative ways to achieve a positive outcome. 3. Be flexible and creative. Persistence does not mean pushing through by force. If you are unable to achieve success one way, try another, and then another. Keep looking for more creative solutions and innovative responses to problems. 4. Think outside the box. Read widely, and don’t confine yourself to your own area of ‘expertise.’ Try to see links between apparently separate and diverse elements in your life and experience. 5. Accept uncertainty and be optimistic. Life is inherently uncertain, so don’t waste your energy trying to predict the future. Of all the possible outcomes, focus on the most positive one. This is not to be a ‘Pollyanna,’ but to accept that if you respond well and work to the best of your ability, a good outcome is as likely as any other. Don’t waste your energy being negative. 6. Keep fit and healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly. Meditation can help, too. This will keep up your energy levels and allow you to keep going in tough times. Not taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually is foolish and short sighted. 7. See the big picture. Change is inevitable, but if you take a bird’s-eye-view of the landscape, the change won’t be so disorientating and you will keep perspective at all times. Managing change means managing people's fear. Change is natural and good, but people's reaction to change is unpredictable and irrational. It can be managed if done right.
  6. 6. Change Nothing is as upsetting to your people as change. Nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production, or falling quality. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your organization as change. History is full of examples of organizations that failed to change and that are now extinct. The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the employees, is definition and understanding. Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. The front-end of an individual's resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The back-end is how well they are equipped to deal with the change they expect. An individual's degree of resistance to change is determined by whether they perceive the change as good or bad, and how severe they expect the impact of the change to be on them. Their ultimate acceptance of the change is a function of how much resistance the person has and the quality of their coping skills and their support system. Your job as a leader is to address their resistance from both ends to help the individual reduce it to a minimal, manageable level. Your job is not to bulldoze their resistance so you can move ahead. Perception Does Matter If you move an employee's desk six inches, they may not notice or care. Yet if the reason you moved it those six inches was to fit in another worker in an adjacent desk, there may be high resistance to the change. It depends on whether the original employee feels the hiring of an additional employee is a threat to his job, or perceives the hiring as bringing in some needed assistance. A promotion is usually considered a good change. However an employee who doubts their ability to handle the new job may strongly resist the promotion. They will give you all kinds of reasons for not wanting the promotion, just not the real one. You might expect a higher-level employee to be less concerned about being laid off, because they have savings and investments to support them during a job search. However, the individual may feel they are over extended and that a job search will be long and complicated. Conversely, your concern for a low-income employee being laid off may be unfounded if they have stashed a nest egg in anticipation of the cut. Your best salesperson may balk at taking on new, high potential account because they have an irrational feeling that they don't dress well enough. If you try and bulldoze this resistance, you will fail. The employee whose desk you had to move will develop production problems. The top worker who keeps declining the promotion may quit rather than have to continue making up excuses for turning you down. And the top salesperson's sales may drop to the point that you stop considering them for the new account. Instead, you overcome the resistance by defining the change and by getting mutual understanding. Definition On the front end, you need to define the change for the employee in as much detail and as early as you can. Provide updates as things develop and become more clear. In the case of the desk that has
  7. 7. to be moved, tell the employee what's going on. "We need to bring in more workers. Our sales have increased by 40% and we can't meet that demand, even with lots of overtime. To make room for them, we'll have to rearrange things a little." You could even ask the employees how they think the space should be rearranged. You don't have to accept their suggestions, but it's a start toward understanding. Definition is a two-way street. In addition to defining the problem, you need to get the employees to define the reasons behind their resistance. Understanding Understanding is also a two-way street. You want people to understand what is changing and why. You also need to understand their reluctance. You have to help your people understand. They want to know what the change will be and when it will happen, but they also want to know why. Why is it happening now? Why can't things stay like they have always been? Why is it happening to me? It is also important that they understand what is not changing. Not only does this give them one less thing to stress about, it also gives them an anchor, something to hold on to as they face the winds of uncertainty and change. You need to understand their specific fears. What are they concerned about? How strongly do they feel about it? Do they perceive it as a good or a bad thing? Manage This Issue Don't try to rationalize things. Don't waste time wishing people were more predictable. Instead, focus on opening and maintaining clear channels of communication with your employees so they understand what is coming and what it means to them. They will appreciate you for it and will be more productive both before and after the change. -------

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